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Gregory A. Cranmer

Previous research has suggested the potential for enduring and influential messages (otherwise known as memorable messages) to serve as mechanisms of athlete socialization but has failed to explore how these messages might help athletes adjust to their teams. This study used open-ended questionnaires to explore how the memorable messages that Division-I student-athletes receive before their college career influence them before and after they join their teams, as well as the associations between message content and function. The results of this study indicate that memorable messages shape student-athletes’ attitudes, expectations, and participative decisions before beginning their college careers and their attitudes, relationships, and performance once they began their careers. However, few associations between message content and functions were observed, and no associations between student-athletes’ sex and sport type with message functions were observed. These results highlight the role of discourse in sport socialization by revealing that specific messages help prepare and acclimate student-athletes for college athletics. However, this study fails to provide insight into why specific functions might occur.

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Gregory A. Cranmer and Sara LaBelle

Despite advancements in concussion treatment and management, health and sports professionals largely depend on athletes’ self-reporting of symptoms to begin the process of diagnosis. With this in mind, recent scholarly attention has focused on understanding the barriers and processes of athletes’ self-disclosure of symptoms. The current study applied the disclosure decision-making model to understand high school football players’ disclosure decisions after experiencing symptoms of a concussion. Data obtained from 184 high school football players from across the United States demonstrated 2 significant paths by which players’ disclosures of concussion symptoms during a game can be understood. First, the perceived severity of these symptoms predicted athletes’ self-efficacy to disclose concussions, which subsequently predicted their intentions to disclose concussion symptoms during a game. Second, the felt stigma around disclosing concussion symptoms predicted athletes’ anticipated responses from coaches to such disclosures, which subsequently predicted their intentions to disclose concussion symptoms during a game. Furthermore, the effect of perceived stigma on the anticipated responses from coaches was moderated by the quality of athletes’ relationships with their coaches. These results highlight the importance of convincing athletes to take concussion symptoms seriously and the role of athlete–coach relationships in combatting stigma around concussion disclosures. These findings suggest that scholars and practitioners should acknowledge the social contexts surrounding disclosure of concussion symptom and shift educational efforts to focus on the dangers of concussions and the process by which athletes should report potential symptoms.

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Gregory A. Cranmer and Maria Brann

Coaches are recognized as important sources of athlete experiences (e.g., learning, sport satisfaction, relationships with teammates), but little attention has been devoted to how coaches foster positive self-perceptions. The current exploratory study proposes that coaches are likely sources of confirmation (i.e., feeling of recognition, endorsement, and acknowledgment). This assumption was substantiated via 12 interviews with Division I volleyball players during the 2013 season as 6 confirming acts and messages used by coaches were identified (i.e., individualized communication, personal relationships, encouragement, demands for improvement, recognition, and demonstration of investment). In addition, 4 phenomena that influence confirmation were identified (i.e., adversity, knowledge of other coaches, athletes’ roles on the team, and timing). These results extend confirmation to the sport context, provide sport communication scholars with a novel framework to understand athlete–coach communication, and illustrate that various phenomena (including starting status) can influence confirming communication between athletes and coaches.

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Gregory A. Cranmer, Maria Brann and Nicholas D. Bowman

Previous studies have suggested that media reify frames that subtly enforce sex differences in a manner that detracts from women athletes’ athleticism. This phenomenon is referred to as ambivalence. To analyze ambivalence, this study introduces a theoretically and empirically supported coding scheme that was used to conduct a quantitative frame analysis of 157 images featured in ESPN’s The Body Issue. These images were coded for frames that de-emphasize athleticism, sexualize athletes, or deny a sporting context. Results suggest that athlete sex is associated with de-emphasized athleticism and sexualized frames, and sport gender is associated with context frames. Results also support longitudinal trends in The Body Issue series, which suggest that the series has become more sexualized and removed from a sports context but has decreased the use of frames that de-emphasize athleticism. In general, The Body Issue continues to reinforce established media trends that trivialize female athletes, despite claiming to do the opposite.

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Gregory A. Cranmer, Alexander L. Lancaster and Tina M. Harris

The disparity in framing in sport media based on athlete race has historically garnered extensive attention. In the past, the media promoted historical stereotypes of Black athletes that emphasized their physical prowess and diminished their intellectual capacity. However, recent research provides evidence that these traditional frames are changing and that recent media coverage is more racially equitable or even contradicts old patterns. Advancing this critique further, the current study examined novel visual frames (i.e., the emphasis of athleticism, sporting context, and sexualization) of White and Black athletes in ESPN’s The Body Issue. The findings contradict historical patterns of representations of Black athletes through the identification of a shift in the framing patterns for Black male athletes, whereas Black female athletes still face frames that portray them in a stereotypical manner. This study recognizes these tensions while successfully illustrating the importance of examining the intersections of difference for revealing and confronting the unique portrayals of Black female athletes.