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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 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 Benoit Seguin

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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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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, Benoit Seguin and Ornella Nzindukiyimana

This study, guided by the relationship marketing theoretical framework, adopted an observational netnography method to investigate professional sport teams’ use of Twitter as a relationship marketing tool. Specifically, the study focused on the three core components of the theoretical framework of relationship marketing: communication, interaction, and value. The observational netnography is based on data gathered from the official Twitter account of 20 professional sport teams in the four major North American leagues over a seven-month period. Results outline seven emergent communication types, six interaction practices, and ten values (co)created by the teams or/and fans. Theoretical and practical implications, as well as impetus for future research, are identified.

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, Benoit Séguin and Ornella Nzindukiyimana

This work critically assesses the history and current state of social media scholarship in sport management research. Methodologically, the study is based on a comprehensive census review of the current body of literature in the area of social media. The review identifies 123 social media articles in sport management research that were mined from a cross-disciplinary examination of 29 scholarly journals from January 2008 (earliest found) to June 2014. The work identifies the topic areas, the platforms, the theories, and the research methods that have received the (most/least) attention of the social media research community, and provides suggestions for future research.

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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.