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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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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.

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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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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, and John Nadeau

Sport and communication have existed since humans began interacting with one another, with organized sport and planned communication formalized for hundreds of years. However, social science scholars have only taken a high-level of interest in sport communication over the past decade. Over the past 10 years, much has been written and researched in the field, and its formalization continues, justifying a need for a review of its current status and the articulation of its future directions. Thus, this article identifies and critically discusses the developments in the field of sport communication in terms of its academic infrastructures and the resulting body of knowledge. It also assesses how the field’s developments are affecting scholarly advancements and identifies areas of “disciplinary pain.” The work concludes by providing suggestions for future research.

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, and Benoit Seguin

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, and Ian Reid

Relationship marketing (RM) is about retaining customers through the achievement of long-term mutual satisfaction by businesses and their customers. Sport organizations, to retain customers by establishing, maintaining, and enhancing relationships, need to communicate and engage in dialogue with their customers. To achieve this on an ongoing basis, sport organizations need to employ effective communication platforms. In this regard, social media (SM) is becoming an ideal tool for a continuing 2-way dialogue. However, the effects of SM, primarily in terms of addressing RM goals, are not yet well understood. This study explores the opportunities and challenges facing managers in sport organizations in using SM in an RM strategy. Eight case studies were undertaken on organizations that put on running events. The article presents the findings on the use, opportunities, and challenges of SM and recommendations encouraging continued investigation.

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, and Jessica R. Braunstein-Minkove

Relational perspectives have influenced marketing theory and practice over the past 40 years, with a volume of relationship marketing (RM) research accumulating over this time. In sport management specifically, a number of RM research articles have been published since the late 1990s. Although an influx has been seen, a review of said literature informs us that RM is a diverse field with no single best explanation, no clear domain and scope, and no universally accepted definition and that, most particularly, the literature is a melting pot of various concepts. This circumstance creates frustration and confusion among new researchers. Additionally, as strategic communication strategies rely on clear and consistent messaging, it is pivotal to holistically address the issue. Therefore, adopting an integrative literature review approach, this commentary revisits the RM scholarship to present, brings attention to the complex nature of the RM literature, and identifies a point of departure for researchers attempting to find a fitting “home” for their research.