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Big Data in Sport Industry: Interview With Michal Lorenc, Head of Industry—Ticketing and Live Events at Google

Gashaw Abeza

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The Past, Present, and Future of Social Media in Professional Sports: Interview With Shannon Gross, Director of Content Strategy, Dallas Cowboys

Gashaw Abeza

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Interview with Joe Gottfried, Director of Digital Integration, Global Partnerships at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment

Gashaw Abeza

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Interview with Brendon Hanley, Head of Global Social Media at FIFA

Gashaw Abeza

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Theory and Social Media in Sport Studies

Gashaw Abeza and Jimmy Sanderson

A key feature of a robust academic discipline is that its homegrown theories and investing in theory contribute to building good research. In the field of sport and social media research, the rigorous utilization of theory is one of the areas where the field is still facing “disciplinary pain.” In fact, the unique features of social media provide researchers in the sport research community with a valuable opportunity for proposing, testing, applying, critiquing, comparing, integrating, and expanding theories. In this commentary, the authors, based on their own experience (as researchers, readers, and reviewers of social media in sport), contend that reference resources are lacking on this topic to help young (or existing) researchers locate appropriate theories for their research. Hence, this work identifies, documents, and discusses the theories used, advanced, and developed in social media research for sport studies. Furthermore, a compilation is brought together of different theories from various disciplines that researchers in this community may consider for their future work.

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Social Media and Sport Studies (2014–2023): A Critical Review

Gashaw Abeza

Building on the foundational study conducted by Abeza et al., this work extends the investigation by critically reviewing social media research in sport studies published from June 2014 to June 2023. Methodologically, the review involved an examination of 153 original research articles from five prominent journals in sport communication and sport management, namely the International Journal of Sport Communication, Communication & Sport, Journal of Sport Management, Sport Management Review, and European Sport Management Quarterly. The study identified the research streams, platforms, theories, and research methods that have garnered attention in the social media research community. The findings reveal several key insights that contribute to the ongoing dialogue in the field, stimulating further exploration and advancing knowledge at the intersection of social media and sport.

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Social Media and Sport Research: Empirical Examinations Showcasing Diversity in Methods and Topics

Jimmy Sanderson and Gashaw Abeza

This commentary introduces the second of two special issues in the International Journal of Sport Communication centered on social media and sport. The empirical studies presented in this issue illustrate both the diversity of topics and methodological approaches utilized by researchers working at the intersection of social media and sport. Research articles in this issue analyze topics ranging from sport consumer behavior to online fan communities to coaches’ perceptions of activism-related content posted on team social media accounts. The research presented here also employs a variety of methodological approaches including experimental design, critical discourse analysis, rhetorical analysis, and applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Collectively, these studies offer a foundation on which future research in social media and sport can build to continue to enhance our understanding of social media’s impact on the sport world.

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Assessing the Social Media Landscape in Sport: Evaluating the Present and Identifying Future Opportunities

Gashaw Abeza and Jimmy Sanderson

This article introduces a special issue of the International Journal of Sport Communication containing insightful commentaries by distinguished scholars in social media scholarship in sports studies. By inviting 25 scholars in the field, who contributed a total of 16 scholarly commentaries, the issue benefits from their extensive knowledge of the interplay between social media and sport. The scholarly commentaries address current trends, critique methods, challenge theories, and propose fresh approaches to understanding the impact of social media in sport. These scholars offer unique perspectives, innovative methodologies, and engaging writing that caters to a diverse readership. The articles provide valuable critiques; shed light on critical issues, controversies, and gaps in knowledge; and identify future directions for sport and social media scholarship to traverse. Importantly, the diverse perspectives presented in this issue stimulate academic dialogue and foster productive discussions within the field of social media in sport studies.

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Costing Participation in Sport: The Best Option Dilemma of a Student-Athlete

Michael Alcorn, Gashaw Abeza, and Norm O’Reilly

Rebecca Griffin, a student-athlete, is coming off the best off-season training program of her 8 years as a rower. She is highly motivated knowing that a strong summer season could propel her to be both a major contributor to her university team in the fall and a contender to make it to the National Under 23 team. However, before she can pursue her athletic dreams, she needs to decide where she is going to row this summer and figure out if she can afford to pay for it. She needs to assess and consider the benefits and drawbacks of her summer rowing club options. Her considerations include club registration fees, travel, equipment, coaching, and competition entry costs for each, and how they will contribute to her career goals in rowing. Therefore, while working toward her goals, Rebecca must consider the affordability of her options, and make the best decision she can.

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Social Media Usage During Live Sport Consumption: Generation Gap and Gender Differences Among Season Ticket Holders

Yann Abdourazakou, Xuefei (Nancy) Deng, and Gashaw Abeza

This study sought to examine season ticket holders’ usage of social networking sites during live sport consumption. Informed by uses and gratifications theory, the study examined three types of social media use by fans—Twitter/Facebook posting, Instagram/Snapchat posting, and mobile app use—during a live game. Survey data of 400 season ticket holders of a professional National Basketball Association team were analyzed. Regression results showed that age was a significant predictor of the fans’ in-game social media use in terms of Instagram/Snapchat posting and mobile app use, whereas gender was a significant predictor of their Twitter/Facebook posting behavior. Moreover, the study showed a mixed result for the predicted moderating effect of the season ticket holders’ tenure on the predicted relationships between the two personal characteristics (age and gender) and the three types of social media use. Theoretical and practical implications of the study for sports marketing management are discussed.