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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.