The purpose of this case study was to determine what image-repair strategies the University of Louisville employed immediately after the announcement of an FBI investigation involving multiple universities and college coaches taking bribes in order to steer high-profile recruits to certain agents. Specifically, this case study examined the image-repair strategies used on the University of Louisville’s official Facebook page and the comments made to those posts to gauge public reaction to the university’s image-repair strategies. The University of Louisville primarily employed the image-repair strategies of transcendence, bolstering, stonewalling, and a newly identified strategy referred to as rallying, or unifying and “moving beyond” the scandal. Three themes emerged from an inductive analysis of users’ comments, including support, rejection, and scandal. The high volume of support indicates that many users were receptive to the university’s attempt to reduce the offensiveness of the scandal through the use of bolstering and transcendence.
Evan Frederick and Ann Pegoraro
Evan L. Frederick and Galen Clavio
The purpose of this study was to explore self-presentation among highly ranked high school football recruits on Twitter. The top 10 athletes in the ESPN 300 were selected for analysis. Specifically, an inductive thematic analysis of the athletes’ tweets was conducted using grounded theory and constant-comparative methodology. Tweets were analyzed from the beginning of the football season through national signing day on February 5. Five self-presentation categories emerged from the data analysis including the personalist, interactivist, promotionalist, culturalist, and vocationalist. Overall, the high school athletes in this study were more likely to use Twitter to engage in backstage (i.e., candid) self-presentation than front-stage (i.e., calculated) self-presentation. While these athletes did use front-stage self-presentation, the performances were characterized by a highly personalized approach to communicating. The candid nature of these athletes’ use of Twitter suggests that proactive education of how to properly use social-media platforms is essential.
Evan Frederick, Ann Pegoraro, and Jimmy Sanderson
The purpose of this study was to investigate how Donald Trump used Twitter to position sport within the greater sociopolitical landscape. An inductive analysis of Trump’s sport-related tweets revealed four themes including (a) sport as self-promotion, (b) sport as fandom, (c) sport as battleground, and (d) sport as American identity. This study found that Trump positioned sport as a status symbol. In doing so, he leveraged his power, wealth, and connections to the industry to belittle and champion sport entities. Trump simultaneously leveraged Twitter to display how sport relationships can further one’s business ventures and build a personal brand. In addition, Trump’s discourse shifted sport away from fulfilling a central role in society, as a beacon where social inequities can be critiqued and perhaps elevated into the public consciousness.
Evan L. Frederick, Choong Hoon Lim, Galen Clavio, and Patrick Walsh
An Internet-based survey was posted on the Twitter feeds and Facebook pages of 1 predominantly social and 1 predominantly parasocial athlete to ascertain the similarities and differences between their follower sets in terms of parasocial interaction development and follower motivations. Analysis of the data revealed a sense of heightened interpersonal closeness based on the interaction style of the athlete. While followers of the social athlete were driven by interpersonal constructs, followers of the parasocial athlete relied more on media conventions in their interaction patterns. To understand follower motivations, exploratory factor analyses were conducted for both follower sets. For followers of the social athlete, most of the interactivity, information-gathering, personality, and entertainment items loaded together. Unlike followers of the social athlete, fanship and community items loaded alongside information-gathering items for followers of the parasocial athlete. The implications of these and other findings are discussed further.
Galen Clavio, Lauren M. Burch, and Evan L. Frederick
The purpose of this study was to employ systems theory to analyze the social network of a Big Ten football team’s Twitter community. An identifiable network was found among the observed actors (N = 139), with fan accounts composing the largest percentage of the network. The number of observed reciprocal interactions was low, only 11.8% of the interactions and only 21.5% of the nodes. Traditionalmedia accounts frequently interacted with other media accounts, while fans interacted primarily with other fans. Overall, nontraditional-media accounts’ users were most focused on interactivity. Team-related accounts were almost nonexistent in the interactive network. A systems-theory-based network was found in terms of input, transformation, and output components. The feedback loop was the weak link in the network, indicating a possible lack of importance of direct feedback in Twitter social networks.
Matthew Blaszka, Lauren M. Burch, Evan L. Frederick, Galen Clavio, and Patrick Walsh
Sport organizations, teams, and athletes are growing constituencies that use socialmedia platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to engage in dialogue with their respective audiences. The purpose of this study was to examine Twitter hashtag use during a major sporting event. Specifically, this study analyzed #WorldSeries during the 2011 World Series. The study employed a content-analysis methodology to determine who was using the hashtag and how it was being used. Using systematic sampling, 1,450 tweets were analyzed. The results demonstrated that #WorldSeries was being used predominantly by laypersons to express fanship, as well as interactivity. When individuals were being interactive with this hashtag, they were doing so mainly with MLB/league officials and other laypersons. Most of these interactive tweets were also expressions of fanship. The implications of these findings are discussed further.
Evan L. Frederick, Galen E. Clavio, Lauren M. Burch, and Matthew H. Zimmerman
For this case study, an Internet-based survey was posted on a popular mixed-martial- arts (MMA) blog to ascertain its users’ demographics and usage trends. Data analysis revealed that users were predominantly White men between the ages of 23 and 39, with some college education and an annual income of $40,000–59,999. An exploratory factor analysis revealed 6 dimensions of gratification: evaluation, community, information gathering, knowledge demonstration, argumentation, and diversion. The most salient motivation statements were related to the speed of information access, the depth of information and coverage, and the availability of information not typically found through traditional media outlets. Most users spent 1–5 hr/wk watching MMA programming and 1–10 hr/wk on MMA blogs, making 1–20 comments per week. Findings indicated that users used this particular blog for both interactive and information-gathering purposes.