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Jimmy Sanderson and Kelly Gramlich

On August 5, 2014, the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA) made history by hiring Becky Hammon as the first full-time, paid assistant coach in mainstream North American sport. Hammon’s hiring provided an impetus to examine how Twitter opened avenues for discussions around gender in sport culture to generate and permeate. Using Radian6 social media extraction software a sample of 1,434 tweets were obtained. A thematic analysis was conducted and revealed three themes: (a) opening the space for conversation; (b) offering evidence of sport cultural change; and (c) expressing resistance to sport cultural change. The results suggest that Twitter functions as a space where aspects of sport culture are disseminated and contested in ways that transcend traditional media’s treatment of these topics. As people share content that is personally meaningful and relevant and participate in shared conversations about sport cultural issues, it invites them to engage in active citizenry through joining in these discussions.

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Yuan Wang and Shuhua Zhou

Social media have been increasingly used by sports organizations to communicate with the public. This study explored the Twitter-using practices of National Basketball Association (NBA) clubs (N = 30) in the U.S. in building relationships with their fans during the 2013–14 season. Specifically, it focused on how these clubs used Twitter to build professional, personal, and community relationships through a content analysis of 5,561 tweets on their official Twitter sites. The results suggested that NBA clubs tended to use social media to develop professional relationships with their publics via sharing information and promoting products. There were significant relationships between relationship dimensions and the number of retweets and favorites from Twitter followers. Sports organizations should use social media effectively to strengthen the professional, personal, and community relationships with their publics.

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R. Douglas Manning, Margaret C. Keiper and Seth E. Jenny

Pedagogical innovation involving smartphone technology paired with complementary applications may offer sport management faculty the opportunity to create an environment of engaging instruction. Technologically enhanced and innovative assignments have the potential to stimulate student interest and critical-thinking skills by presenting new experiences and active learning opportunities via participatory education. Through the discussion of technology integration and pedagogical innovation when teaching millennial students, the purpose of this paper is to provide a conceptual framework—namely, the concerns-based adoption model (CBAM)—to introduce mobile technologies, such as Socrative and Twitter, into the sport management classroom.

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Jan Boehmer and Edson C. Tandoc Jr.

The current study explored factors influencing content sharing on Twitter in the context of sport news. It employed a 2-step text-based analysis combining qualitative and quantitative approaches and found that 3 main categories of factors are influencing retweeting decisions: characteristics of the source, characteristics of the message, and characteristics of the user. A subsequent hierarchical-regression analysis revealed that factors related to a user’s encounter of a Tweet are the best predictor of retweeting intentions. More specifically, interest in the exact topic of the tweet, the perceived relevance that the tweet might have for the user’s own followers, and similarity in opinion play important roles. Implications for communication practitioners, as well as research investigating human behavior on social media, are discussed.

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Joseph Ray, Jimmy Smith and Brian Fowler

Social media has become a powerful source of sports information. The uncertainty of outcomes of a sporting event is a contributing factor to fan satisfaction, which in turn affects fans’ social-media habits. If teams can determine specific factors that affect these social-media habits, marketing conclusions can be drawn. The current research followed the Twitter accounts of 4 National Hockey League (NHL) teams throughout the 2015 NHL postseason to observe changes in fan engagement. The results displayed increasing growth during each subsequent round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which indicates an advantageous time to gain fans and develop brand loyalty. The current research showed that retweets and favorites earned on team tweets were shown to have the greatest correlation to followers gained. The growth demonstrated during the postseason provides sports organizations the opportunity to cultivate a strong and loyal following for their teams through strategic marketing initiatives.

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Chris Roberts and Betsy Emmons

Sports journalists’ use of Twitter to cover live events raises questions related to institutional practices, the increased “branding” of journalists, and the work patterns and work products of journalists on a game day. College football was used as the sample sport for the researchers to analyze 2,600 tweets sent by 51 print-focused journalists covering 11 college football games on 1 Saturday. Provi ding contextual insight, the researchers interviewed 10 of the subject journalists to discern how they use Twitter for game-day coverage. Results indicate a more opinion-based use of Twitter during live reporting, shifts in reporting and writing routines, and widely varied opinions about social media’s effects on sports journalism.

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Brandi Watkins and Jason W. Lee

This case study examined how a large university in the southern U.S. incorporated branding strategies into its social-media content. Specifically, the strategies for using text-based social media (Twitter) and visual-based social media (Instagram) to communicate brand identity through brand associations and brand personality were investigated. To do this, the authors conducted a 2-part study. The first, a content analysis of social-media content, revealed how the athletic department communicated the football team’s brand identity through brand associations and brand personality. Second, a survey assessed the perceived brand personality of the football program through social-media content to determine external perceptions of the team. Results support the use of Instagram as a branding strategy. Instagram was used more than Twitter to communicate brand associations and brand-personality cues, while survey results indicated that respondents exposed to Instagram content reported higher perceptions of brand personality than those exposed to Twitter content.

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Kevin Hull

This case study explored how professional golfers participating in the Masters tournament used Twitter during the week of the event. Basing the research in self-presentation theory, the author conducted a content analysis of 895 tweets by 39 golfers. The results suggest that athletes are using Twitter to give fans both a front-stage and a backstage glimpse into their lives, with engaging with fans (front stage) being the most prominent. By balancing between front stage and backstage, the athletes are able to give fans a more intimate view of their life, while also maintaining a public persona that can please sponsors. Limitations and directions for future research are also discussed.

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Kevin Hull

This study explored how student-athletes at UNC-Wilmington (UNCW) used Twitter to help save their swimming and diving teams from being eliminated. Both a series of interviews and a content analysis of 1,775 tweets by 25 athletes were conducted. The results suggest that athletes and advocates can use Twitter to raise awareness about their cause. The UNCW athletes’ goal to demonstrate community support by alerting as many people as possible through social media was achieved through tweeting consistently, becoming opinion leaders in the two-step flow of information, and using weak ties to get followers of other accounts to rally behind their cause. Limitations and directions for future research are also discussed.

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B. Colin Cork and Terry Eddy

The purpose of this study was to examine endorsement-related tweets from athletes and determine which characteristics of those tweets could increase the degree of electronic word-of-mouth marketing (eWOM) generated by the message. Previous literature has suggested that the retweet function in Twitter is a form of eWOM. Through the lens of eWOM, the concepts of vividness, interactivity, and congruence are used to understand what tweet characteristics generate the most retweets. A sample of professional-athlete endorsement and sponsored tweets (n = 669) was used and coded based on frameworks adapted from previous studies. Results indicated that the interaction between levels of high vividness and high interactivity generated the highest frequency of retweets. Reported findings could inform athletes and/or brand managers in ways to increase the eWOM of sponsored messages on Twitter.