This case study examines star Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens’s image-repair strategies during a press conference he held to respond to allegations that he had used steroids and human-growth hormones earlier in his playing career. When professional athletes are confronted with allegations of cheating or illegitimately enhancing their athletic performance, they are faced with a crisis situation, and selecting and performing the appropriate response is paramount in repairing their image and mitigating personal harm (e.g., loss of endorsements). In many cases, however, professional athletes rely on attorneys, agents, or other individuals who might underestimate the relevance of appropriately communicating image repair, thereby resulting in the athlete’s image being further damaged. Although Clemens employed various image-repair strategies during his press conference, his failure to enact these strategies appropriately further harmed his reputation and ultimately raised more questions than he answered.
Argyro Elisavet Manoli
An escalating number of crises appear in the sport industry in general and the football industry in particular that make the area of crisis communication an increasingly important matter in both the everyday running and the long-term viability of football. However, the sensitivity of the topic makes an extensive analysis on current practice in crisis communications a particularly challenging task. This study examines how crisis communications is managed by investigating the current practices and techniques employed in English Premier League clubs, as they were presented by communications professionals employed in the clubs. The analysis of the clubs’ practices underlines the lack of proactivity and presents the most popular strategies of crisis-communications management: “Wait for the dust to settle” and “React promptly before the noise grows.” In addition, an underdocumented technique is examined: the use of the informal personal relationships between the employees of the clubs and the members of the media. This study also introduces the “crisis communications management in football” model, which illustrates the practices identified through this study and can potentially act as a guide for crisis-communications analysis in a number of other industries.
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.
Lauren Reichart Smith and Kenny D. Smith
This case study, using social-identity theory as a framework, examines how sport consumers and producers used different identifiers to engage in conversation during the final games of the 2012 College World Series of baseball. Five major hashtags were noted for each baseball team as primary identifiers; users fit in 3 main groups and subgroups. The analysis of tweets revealed 5 major themes around which the conversations primarily revolved. The study has implications for social-identity theory and team identification, as well as broader implications for audience fragmentation and notions of the community of sport.
Via their social-media postings, student-athletes are increasingly creating public relations issues for college athletic programs. With social media’s emergence as a popular communication tool, exploring the messages student-athletes receive from their athletic departments about social-media use is warranted. This research examined social-media policies in student-athlete handbooks from 159 NCAA Division I schools. Using thematic and textual analytic procedures, analysis revealed that policies heavily emphasize content restrictions and external monitoring and frame social media as laden with risk. The results suggest that social-media policies should be more reflexive to identify both positive and negative outcomes for student-athletes. In addition, athletic departments must assertively monitor social-media trends to ensure that policies and training stay relevant.
Jung Woo Lee
This article investigates a sign system in promotional campaigns for the 2 sport/energy-drink brands PowerAde and Monster Energy. More specifically, the paper examines advertising materials published on the British Web sites of the 2 drink brands. The media texts are analyzed using semiotics and critical discourse analysis. In so doing, the author attempts to identify the meaning of sport in different contexts and settings and to interpret ideological connotation embedded in the commercial discourse on sport. The PowerAde advertising presents the meaning of sport as controlled and calculated physical activities associated with high-performance sport. This articulation suggests an idealization of productive individuals, and this appears to be the reification of capitalist ideology through sport. Monster Energy advertising tends to endorse alternative sporting subculture emphasizing the aspects of fun and spectacle, but such endorsement is only validated within the boundaries of consumer culture. The author concludes that advertising involves communication practice through which the meaning of sport with some ideological connotations is continually constructed and disseminated to today’s wider society.
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.
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.
Jimmy Sanderson, Blair Browning and Annelie Schmittel
College athletes are active on a variety of social-media platforms. As a result, most athletic departments require them to participate in social-media education. Although this practice is becoming more prominent, little research has explored how college athletes perceive such training. This case study explored college athletes’ social-media use and their perceptions about social-media education. Semi structured interviews of 20 college athletes at a Division I university were conducted. Using social-cognitive theory as a framework, analysis revealed that while participants expressed a desire for social-media education, they indicated that most of the messages they receive about social media tend to be forgettable. Consequently, athletic departments need to take a more refexive approach to social-media education that incorporates college athletes’ feedback to optimize this instruction.
Yongjae Kim, Soojin Kim and Elizabeth Rogol
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of consumer innovativeness on sport fans’ behavioral intention to adopt and use sport team apps. Combining the diffusion theory with the technology acceptance model, the current study proposed three extended technology acceptance models. The proposed models were tested with data collected from 233 sport team apps users in the United States. The findings indicate that consumer innovativeness has direct and indirect influences on behavioral intention through beliefs about sport team apps. The partially mediated model fits the data well, was more parsimonious, and had a greater proportion of the variance explained by intention than the other models and thus was chosen for further analysis. Consumer innovativeness and beliefs about the apps explained 55.4% and 42% of the variance in intention to adopt sport team apps, respectively. Empirical evidence also provides strong support for the integrative approach. The study suggests an extended model of technology acceptance model for the acceptance and use of the sport team apps, which can help scholars and marketers understand sport fans’ media behaviors.