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Katie Lebel and Karen Danylchuk

This study investigated how professional athletes present themselves in their Twitter profile pictures and how athlete self-presentation is interpreted by a Generation Y audience (N = 206). Goffman’s theory of self-presentation guided the analysis with a specific focus on the notions of front- and backstage performances as they relate to impression-management strategies. Participants assessed a sample of profile photos of the most followed male and female athletes on Twitter by providing their first impressions of each athlete’s image and then evaluating photo favorability and effectiveness. This research provides evidence to suggest that individuals invest meaning in the social cues provided in athlete profile pictures. Athletes who highlighted a sport context were consistently ranked most favorably and effectively and were linked with positive word associations. These findings underscore the importance of a strategic alignment between social-media profile content, profile photos, and the brand established by athletes.

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Katie Lebel and Karen Danylchuk

The innovations of social media have altered the traditional methods of fan–athlete interaction while redefining how celebrity athletes practice their roles as celebrities. This study explored gender differences in professional athletes’ self-presentation on Twitter. Content analyses were used to compare male and female athletes’ tweets relayed by all professional tennis players with a verified Twitter account. Profile details and messages were scoured for themes and patterns of use during the time surrounding the 2011 U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Goffman’s seminal 1959 theory of self-presentation guided the analysis. While athlete image construction was found to be largely similar between genders, male athletes were found to spend more time in the role of sport fan while female athletes spent more time in the role of brand manager.

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Katie Lebel and Karen Danylchuk

The purpose of this study was to gain insight into Generation Y’s perceptions of women’s sport in the media. Twenty-four participants were recruited and organized into 4 gender-specific focus groups. Participants identified televised sport as a primary and preferred method of sport consumption. Women’s sports were linked with inaccessibility and perceived as inferior to men’s sport in terms of athletic skill and general atmosphere. An underrepresentation of women’s sport in the media was held responsible for the limited awareness surrounding women’s sport. Societal expectations instilled during early socialization processes and limited female opportunity in sport also emerged as critical barriers. Most participants regarded the inequality in women’s sport with indifference and were satisfied as sport enthusiasts with the opportunities for consumption available in men’s sport. This conservative approach to women’s sport suggests that Generation Y’s perceptions wield noteworthy influence on their sport consumption behaviors.

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Katie Lebel, Karen Danylchuk and Patti Millar

This research explored the use of social media within the sport management discipline in a North American context, specifically investigating how sport management academicians use social media as a teaching and learning tool. An online survey garnered the social media literacies of sport management faculty (N = 132). Compared with cross-discipline studies that have measured similar interests, sport management faculty appear to have a limited awareness of social media applications. Only 61% of study participants reported having incorporated social media into their course design. While a majority of faculty agreed that the use of social media in education can provide positive enhancement to both teaching and learning, in practice, participant social media teaching strategies were narrowly employed. Results suggest a potential disconnect between the digital pedagogies currently employed by sport management faculty, the expectations of students, and most importantly, the demands of the sport industry.