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Grace Yan and Nicholas M. Watanabe

After the South Korean men’s soccer team beat its Japanese counterpart in the bronze-medal match at the 2012 London Olympics, South Korean player Park Jung-Woo celebrated with a banner that displayed Dokdo is our land. Dokdo is called the Liancourt Rocks in English, the sovereignty over which has been an ongoing point of contention between South Korea and Japan. This study conducts a critical discourse analysis to examine media representations of Park’s banner celebration, as well as the ensuing discussion in major Korean and Japanese newspapers. The analysis reveals a contrastive picture: The Korean media vocally approached Park’s behavior as an emotional response of self-righteous indignation and quickly enacted memories of Korea’s victimhood in World War II to make justifications, whereas the Japanese media participated in a relatively disengaged absence. Japan’s silence disclosed a glimpse into its rich postwar history of social conflict and political resistance. Such contrast is also indicative of how sport media can be engaged in nuanced social contexts, generating representations that serve nation-state regimes situated in different political dynamics.

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Nicholas M. Watanabe, Tie Nie, and Grace Yan

The Olympic Games are one of the most popular global televised sporting events. In the greater body of sport communication literature, a great deal of focus has been placed on examining sport media from the West. This article considers the unique and specific case of Chinese Olympic broadcast commentary televised by state media. In this, an evolutionary process of sport media can be seen in the analysis of several themes: nationalism and identity, heroes and failure, collectivism and individualism, and the portrayal of female athletes. In considering the dynamic changes that have come about in the past 3 decades of Chinese commentary, it is evident that many themes in Chinese sport media have become reflective of those found in Western sport media. While Chinese sport media have similarities to Western sport media, it is important to note that Chinese sport media are unique. Results of this work can help provide richer understanding of sport media and consumers in China.

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Nicholas Watanabe, Grace Yan, and Brian P. Soebbing

From the perspective of economic demand theory, this study examines the factors that determine daily changes in Twitter following of Major League Baseball teams as a form of derived demand for a sport product. Specifically, a linear regression model is constructed by taking consideration of factors relevant to fan interest: team performance, market characteristics, scheduling, and so on. The results reveal specific determinants that have significant relationship with Twitter following. From a team management perspective, factors such as the content of social media messages, certain calendar events, and postseason appearances can be used to enhance fan interest on social media. In so doing, it brings together communication inquiries and economic literature by delineating a comprehensive and nuanced account of interpreting sport social media from a consumer demand perspective.

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Grace Yan, Hanhan Xue, and Chad Seifried

Since the concept of redeveloping Wrigley Field became prevalent, the Chicago Tribune has notably constructed a variety of narrative strands on related urban dynamics. Through a framework that connected post-Gramsci insights of hegemony, discourse, and critics of spatial and economic neoliberalism, this study examined how the newspaper strategically assembled discourses in mediatizing urban politics surrounding the Wrigley renovation. First, the newspaper fostered hegemonic consent that endorsed the redevelopment(s) by promoting old tropes of economic development and market growth despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Second, it also produced a parallel discourse that expressed moderate recognition and sympathy to the interest and experience of the community. Without fundamentally challenging neoliberal power, however, such discursive construction was a strategic and instrumental intervention that reinforced the contingencies and boundaries of neoliberal hegemony. Through such investigations, this study shed light on the ongoing rearticulation(s) of the media regime that strategically produced neoliberal rationalities, subjectivities, and discursive antagonism as it assisted to shape urban imageries and political economies of sporting spaces.

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Grace Yan, Ann Pegoraro, and Nicholas M. Watanabe

Although social media has been increasingly noted as an outlet for athletes to openly address social issues, there has been very little systematic examination on the organizational capacity of social media. To address this, our study seeks to focus on the strike organized by the football players through Twitter at the University of Missouri in 2015. Specifically, it adopts the theoretical framework of resource mobilization and conducts a comprehensive analysis composed of two parts. First, by identifying geographic characteristics and participant groups for #ConcernedStudent1950, it seeks to reveal the mobilization scope and impact. Second, a social network analysis is used to delineate the organizational dynamics of the players’ protest networks. The results yield both theoretical and practical implications for athletes’ engagement in social activism in the digital era.

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Nicholas Watanabe, Pamela Wicker, and Grace Yan

The awarding of the hosting of the Football World Cup to Russia and Qatar initiated discussions about temperature and travel distances related to the game. This study examines the effect of weather conditions, travel distances, and rest days—three factors potentially causing fatigue—on running performance using player-level and teamlevel data from the 2014 World Cup. The results show that the heat index (combining temperature and humidity) significantly decreased running performance (number of sprints, high-intensity running), while a clear sky was positively associated with distance covered at high intensity. Travel distance and rest were insignificant. When these models are used to predict running performance at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, the projections show that the combination of heat and wind could hinder the performance of both players and teams and create potentially dangerous conditions. The present study has implications for policy makers regarding the choice of future host countries.

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Nicholas M. Watanabe, Hanhan Xue, Joshua I. Newman, and Grace Yan

With the expansion of the esports industry, there is a growing body of literature examining the motivations and behaviors of consumers and participants. The current study advances this line of research by considering esports consumption through an economic framework, which has been underutilized in this context. Specifically, the “attention economy” is introduced as a theoretical approach—which operates with the understanding that due to increased connectivity and availability of information, it is the attention of consumers that becomes a scarce resource for which organizations must compete. Using data from the Twitch streaming platform, the results of econometric analysis further highlight the importance of structural factors in drawing attention from online viewers. As such, this research advances the theoretical and empirical understanding of online viewership behaviors, while also providing important ramifications for both esports and traditional sport organizations attempting to capture the attention of users in the digital realm.

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Nicholas M. Watanabe, Grace Yan, and Brian P. Soebbing

Understanding how consumers interact with sport brands on digital platforms is of increasing importance to the sport industry. In this study, through a nexus of consumer behavior and economic literatures, the examination focuses on consumer interest in major league baseball teams on social media platforms from July 2013 to June 2014. Specifically, two generalized least squares regression models were used that considered a variety of factors, including market characteristics, scheduling, and social media use and management. The findings display varying results of short- and long-term consumer interest in teams on Twitter. From this, important theoretical and practical understanding can be derived by considering consumer behavior in the automated “like economy” of social media.

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Nicholas M. Watanabe, Grace Yan, Brian P. Soebbing, and Wantong Fu

Although numerous discussions have taken place on the environmental policies and practices of sport organizations, there have been very limited examinations of sport consumer behaviors in direct response to a polluted environment. To address this gap, this research examines air pollution and attendance at soccer matches of the Chinese Super League, where deteriorating air quality in recent years presents everyday challenges for urban activities. By employing actual air quality data gathered from various locations across China, this study conducts a regression analysis to examine factors that impacted Chinese Super League match attendance from 2014 to 2016. The estimated results suggest that consumers did not change their consumption habits despite the presence of air pollution. They yield critical managerial implications that need to be considered by consumers, sport organizations, and the government.

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Nicholas M. Watanabe, Grace Yan, Brian P. Soebbing, and Ann Pegoraro

Prior studies have investigated consumer-based economic discrimination from a number of contexts in the sport industry. This study seeks to further such a line of inquiry by examining consumer interest in Major League Baseball players on the Twitter platform, especially considering the emergence of social media at the forefront of consumer behavior research. Specifically, the analysis uses six regression models that take into account an array of factors, including player characteristics, performance, market size, and so forth. Results reveal that when controlling for all other factors, Hispanic players receive significantly less consumer interest on social media than their counterparts, while Asian pitchers receive more. These findings yield critical insights into tendencies of sport consumer biases on digital platforms, assisting the development of an equal and efficient sport marketplace for stakeholders.