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Brad Schultz and Mary Lou Sheffer

A theoretical perspective of technological determinism was used to assess what, if any, changes Twitter is causing in journalism news work. This change was assessed based on the responses of sports journalists around the country. Results indicated very little change in terms of the journalists’ perceptions, but different groups were using the new technology differently. Younger and broadcast journalists were more likely to see Twitter as having stand-alone value and use it in forward-thinking ways. Older and print journalists were more likely to use Twitter for traditional purposes such as promoting printed work on other platforms.

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Mary Lou Sheffer and Brad Schultz

This was an extension of research by the same authors (2010) that investigated sports reporters’ perception of their use of Twitter as part of their professional journalistic duties. Using content-analysis methodology (N = 1,008), the authors investigated how sports reporters actually used Twitter. Analysis showed a discrepancy between journalist responses and measured content. Although journalists said they were using Twitter for breaking news and promotion, the dominant result of the content analysis was commentary and opinion. There were also differences related to print and smaller media outlets. The implications of such differences are discussed, including a possible paradigmatic shift in journalists’ approaches.

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Ann Pegoraro

This case study investigated athletes’ use of a specific social-media platform—Twitter. Social media are a rising force in marketing and have been fully embraced by the sport industry, with teams, leagues, coaches, athletes, and managers establishing presences. Primarily these presences have been focused on Twitter, a microblogging site that allows users to post their personal thoughts in 140 characters or less. Athletes, in particular, have engaged in tweeting at a fast pace, which raises the question, What are they saying? This case study investigated the tweets of athletes over a 7-d period in an attempt to answer that question. The findings indicate that athletes are talking predominantly about their personal lives and responding to fans’ queries through Twitter. The results indicate that Twitter is a powerful tool for increasing fan–athlete interaction.

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Olan Kees Martin Scott and Alicia R. Stanway

The higher education sector increasingly uses social media as an educational tool to develop a sense of community and foster student engagement, particularly as social networking sites have become an integral part of the lives of digital natives. The current study sought to explore whether the use of Twitter could foster student engagement in a sport marketing course, specifically by embedding Twitter through two assessments, online lectures and weekly tasks. Mean score comparisons indicated that over a 13-week semester, students (N = 68) felt more engaged and included in the course because it had Twitter, found Twitter to be relatively easy to use, and the use of social media aligned with course objectives. The results of the current study have salience in sport management education, because the effective use of Twitter within a higher education context demonstrates how the use of social media can foster engagement with course materials.

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Sherry L. Pagoto, Kristin L. Schneider, Jessica Oleski, Brian Smith and Michael Bauman

Background:

The present feasibility study describes engagement and spread of a Twitter-based core-strengthening challenge.

Methods:

A challenge that entailed completing a core-strengthening exercise using a hashtag (#PlankADay) was circulated via Twitter. This study surveyed users who joined during the first 2 months of the challenge to describe their characteristics, including social support for exercise and to what extent they invited others to join. The study continued to track total users for 10 months.

Results:

Of 407 individuals who joined in the first 2 months, 105 completed surveys. Among these, 81% were female and 86% white and mean age was 35.8. 72% participated for at least 1 month and 47% participated for at least 2 months. Survey participants reported that the challenge increased their enjoyment of abdominal exercise. Of the 68% of participants who invited others to participate, 28% recruited none, 66% recruited 1–5 users, and 6% recruited 10 or more users. Participants reported that online friends provided as much positive social support for exercise as family and in-person friends. In 14 months, 4941 users produced 76,746 tweets and mean total tweets per user was 15.86 (SD = 75.34; range = 1–2888).

Conclusion:

Online social networks may be a promising mechanism to spread brief exercise behaviors.

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Jonathan A. Jensen, Shaina M. Ervin and Stephen W. Dittmore

Social media have become an increasingly important tool for college coaches and administrators to connect with fans, alumni, and recruits. However, despite their increasing prevalence, it is not well understood which factors may contribute to the reach and popularity in social media of high-profile figures such as coaches and athletic directors. Using Football Bowl Subdivision head football coaches and the popular social-media platform Twitter, this case study sought to explore the potential influence of on-field performance on coaches’ popularity in social media. Among the results is the finding that the most influential factor is the football program’s prestige (long-term success), while the coach’s on-field success and the size of the school’s fan base are of lesser importance. Given the increasing influence of social media in intercollegiate athletics, the case study’s results feature several important considerations for administrators seeking to use social-media platforms to increase the reach of their athletic programs.

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Galen Clavio, Lauren M. Burch and Evan L. Frederick

The purpose of this study was to employ systems theory to analyze the social network of a Big Ten football team’s Twitter community. An identifiable network was found among the observed actors (N = 139), with fan accounts composing the largest percentage of the network. The number of observed reciprocal interactions was low, only 11.8% of the interactions and only 21.5% of the nodes. Traditionalmedia accounts frequently interacted with other media accounts, while fans interacted primarily with other fans. Overall, nontraditional-media accounts’ users were most focused on interactivity. Team-related accounts were almost nonexistent in the interactive network. A systems-theory-based network was found in terms of input, transformation, and output components. The feedback loop was the weak link in the network, indicating a possible lack of importance of direct feedback in Twitter social networks.

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Michael L. Naraine and Milena M. Parent

The purpose of this study was to examine sport organizations’ social-media activity using an institutional approach, specifically, to investigate the main themes emanating from Canadian national sport organizations’ (CNSOs) social-media communication and the similarities and differences in social-media use between the CNSOs. An exploratory qualitative thematic analysis was conducted on 8 CNSOs’ Twitter accounts ranging from 346 to 23,925 followers, with the number of tweets varying from 219 to 17,186. Thematic analysis indicated that CNSOs generally used tweeting for promoting, reporting, and informing purposes. Despite the organizations’ differing characteristics regarding seasonality of the sport, Twitter-follower count, total number of tweets, and whether the content was original or retweeted, themes were generally consistent across the various organizations. Coercive, mimetic, and normative isomorphic pressures help explain these similarities and offer reasons for a lack of followership growth by the less salient CNSOs. Implications for research and practice are provided.

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Megan B. Shreffler, Meg G. Hancock and Samuel H. Schmidt

Unlike traditional media, which frames female athletes in sexualized manners and in socially accepted roles such as mothers and girlfriends, user-controlled social-media Web sites allow female athletes to control the image and brand they wish to portray to the public. Using Goffman’s theory of self-presentation, the current study aimed to investigate how female athletes were portraying themselves via their Twitter avatar pictures. A total of 207 verified Twitter avatars of female athletes from 6 sports were examined through a content analysis. The avatars from each player were coded using the following themes: athlete as social being, athlete as promotional figure, “selfie,” athletic competence, ambivalence, “girl next door,” and “sexy babe.” The results revealed that athletic competence was the most common theme, followed by selfie and athlete as social being. Thus, when women have the opportunity to control their image through social media they choose to focus on their athletic identities.

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Annelore Deprez, Peter Mechant and Tim Hoebeke

Literature states that incorporating social media as a journalistic tool in news reporting generates opportunities for journalists to not only dialogue with the audience but also to publish, to seek information, and to profile themselves or their organizations. This study broadens the empirical data on the journalistic use of social media, more specifically Twitter, by sports journalists in Flanders. A multimethod research approach was used to examine the content of tweets, the followings, and the profiles of the sports journalists. Results show that almost half of the sports journalists have a Twitter account, just over a third of them actively post tweets, and Twitter serves predominantly as an information source to learn more about athletes and their teams. Journalists also publish and communicate on Twitter and to a lesser extent use Twitter to interact with their audience. The study also reveals that Twitter is rarely used as a profiling tool for self-presentation.