Internet-based sport communication mediums represent a crucial area of scholarly inquiry for the field. The continuing growth in popularity of blogs, message boards, and other Internet-specific types of sport communication presents sport communication scholars with a plethora of avenues for research. This commentary examines one such avenue, through a survey administered to users on 14 college sport message boards. Survey results indicated that message-board users were primarily male (87.8%) and White (90.8%) and possessed at least an undergraduate degree (76.0%). In addition, 42.2% of users reported a household income of $100,000 or more per year. The analysis of the resulting demographic and usage data highlights some of the key aspects of this sample of users, including information relating to race, gender, income, education level, and salience of message-board use by both subscribers and nonsubscribers. These and other factors are presented as potential areas of future scholarly inquiry for sport communication researchers.
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.
Galen Clavio and Andrea N. Eagleman
Prior research into the portrayal of females in sport media has demonstrated that females are given less written coverage than males (e.g., Fink & Kensicki, 2002), and that the coverage given is more sexual in nature (Hardin, Lynn, & Walsdorf, 2005). Internet-based sports blogs have become both an alternative and a competitor to traditional sport media (Fleming, 2008; Hardin & Zhong, 2009; King, 2009). As such, it becomes necessary to examine the portrayal of females in sports blogs, to compare the medium’s content to traditional forms of sport media, and to establish a baseline for future research. Utilizing content analysis of the 10 most popular sports blogs, the study discovered that males received significantly more photographic coverage in sports blogs than did females, and that female portrayals were far more likely to be sexually suggestive in nature. These and other findings are discussed, and recommendations for future studies are included.
Galen Clavio and Ted M. Kian
An Internet-based survey was posted on the Twitter feed of a retired female athlete to ascertain the demographics, uses, and gratifications of her feed’s followers. Analysis of the data revealed that followers were predominantly White, affluent, educated, and older than prior research into online audiences has shown. The perception of the athlete as being an expert at her sport was the most salient reason reported to follow the Twitter feed, followed by affinity for the athlete’s writing style. Analysis of variance uncovered 5 significant differences in item salience between male and female followers, with women more likely to use this Twitter feed because of affinity for the athlete and men more likely to use it because of perception of the athlete as physically attractive. Factor analysis uncovered 3 dimensions of gratification: an organic fandom factor, a functional fandom factor, and an interactivity factor.
Galen E. Clavio and Matthew H. Zimmerman
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.
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.
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.