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Josh Compton

Inoculation theory is a classic theory of resistance to influence, modeling a way to confer resistance to challenges based on biological inoculation processes. This commentary explores inoculation’s efficacy in the applied context of sport communication, with special consideration of how inoculation may guide sportmarketing strategies to preemptively bolster existing support for a team in the face of challenges (e.g., a losing season).

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Josh Compton and Jordan Compton

Open letters offer a unique focus for rhetorical analysis in sport communication, forming a message that is both interpersonal (the attempt to reflect dialogue through a letter writer and its recipients) and public (the “open” part of the open letter). The National Football League (NFL) attempted image repair when it used open letters to respond to accusations that it was not doing enough to protect athletes against devastating effects of concussions. Through the use of Benoit’s theory of image repair, the authors found that Commissioner Goodell’s open letters relied on 2 main image-repair strategies: reducing offensiveness and corrective action. They consider the implications of these rhetorical choices for the complicated merging areas of sport, communication, and health in the NFL’s open letters.

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Michael B. Devlin and Natalie Brown-Devlin

The purpose of this study was to first examine the effects of individual personality on the average time spent consuming sport media each week, and then to examine the extent that team identification mediated the effects of personality on sport media consumption. Personality was assessed using the HEXACO Personality Inventory, which provides a theoretical framework to examine the degree to which six broad personality domains and several underlying personality traits influence behavior. A survey using a national sample of 715 participants indicates that personality traits significantly predict team identity, and directly and indirectly predict sport media consumption. Using this personality framework presents a new area of research for sport communication theories and offers practical application for targeting specific types of individuals when promoting mediated sports events. Future research examining the role of personality in a variety of sport communication areas are offered in conclusion.

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John Harris and Mark Lyberger

The Ryder Cup is undoubtedly the biggest and most prestigious team competition in golf but has received little attention from scholars with an interest in sport communication. This commentary examines print- and electronic-media accounts of the 2006 event and looks at how the Ryder Cup is used to (re)present images of the U.S. nation. The analysis highlights how the defeat was positioned within a broader narrative of a supposed “crisis” in U.S. sport and was also linked to a discourse of larger cultural decline.

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Ketra L. Armstrong

Sport managers and marketers strategically include individuals with specific characteristics as spokespersons in their persuasive communications (i.e., advertisements, promotional messages, development campaigns, and announcements) to appeal to and influence the attitudes and behaviors of their intended audience. This study was designed to examine African-American students’ responses to race (when moderated by the students' ethnic identification) as a salient characteristic of the person featured in a persuasive sport communication. It sought to examine the role of race in the communication process as: (a) a heuristic/peripheral cue for inducing message responses and evaluation, and (b) a variable that influenced the students' tendency to engage in biased or objective strategies to process the information presented. The results offer an illustration of how sociological variables such as race and ethnicity influence the communication process in general and the means of communicating sport related issues to African-American students in particular.

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Adia Waldburger

Audiences had the opportunity to applaud for sport films at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT. Two sport-themed documentary films won audience awards. The U.S. winner, Buck, follows the life of horse trainer Buck Brannaman, and Senna, a look at the life of Formula One hero Ayrton Senna, won in the international category. Other sport films screened this year included Win Win, in which Paul Giamatti stars as a volunteer high school wrestling coach; Benevides Born, about a teen female wrestler trying win a scholarship; and two short movie entries, Bike Race, an animated film about a race and a love triangle, and Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul, a documentary about skaters in war-torn Afghanistan. This review provides an examination of the sport films at this year’s festival and discusses the impact that this form of sport communication has on the entertainment industry.

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Nicholas M. Watanabe, Tie Nie and Grace Yan

The Olympic Games are one of the most popular global televised sporting events. In the greater body of sport communication literature, a great deal of focus has been placed on examining sport media from the West. This article considers the unique and specific case of Chinese Olympic broadcast commentary televised by state media. In this, an evolutionary process of sport media can be seen in the analysis of several themes: nationalism and identity, heroes and failure, collectivism and individualism, and the portrayal of female athletes. In considering the dynamic changes that have come about in the past 3 decades of Chinese commentary, it is evident that many themes in Chinese sport media have become reflective of those found in Western sport media. While Chinese sport media have similarities to Western sport media, it is important to note that Chinese sport media are unique. Results of this work can help provide richer understanding of sport media and consumers in China.

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Chris Gibbs, Norm O’Reilly and Michelle Brunette

Without exception, all professional sport teams in North America use social media to communicate with fans. Sport communication professionals use Twitter as one of the strategic tools of engagement, yet there remains a lack of understanding about how users are motivated and gratified in their Twitter use. Drawing on a specific sample from the Twitter followers of the Canadian Football League, the researchers used semistructured in-depth interviews, content analysis, and an online survey to seek an understanding of what motivates and satisfies Twitter followers of professional sport teams, measured through the gratifications sought and the fulfillment of these motives through the perceived gratifications obtained. The results add to the sport communications literature by finding 4 primary gratifications sought by Twitter users: interaction, promotion, live game updates, and news. Professional sport teams can improve strategic fan engagement by better understanding how Twitter followers use and seek gratification in the social-media experience.

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Blair Browning and Jimmy Sanderson

Twitter has become a popular topic in sport communication research. Little research to date, however, has examined Twitter from the perspective of student-athletes. This research explored how student-athletes at an NCAA Division I university used Twitter and reacted to critical tweets from fans. Semistructured interviews with 20 student-athletes were conducted. Analysis revealed that student-athletes used Twitter in 3 primary ways: keeping in contact, communicating with followers, and accessing information. With respect to critical tweets, student-athletes reported various perceptions about them and diverse strategies for responding to them. The results suggest that Twitter is a beneficial communicative tool for student-athletes but also presents challenges, given the ease with which fans attack them via this social-media platform. Accordingly, athletic departments must be proactive in helping student-athletes use Twitter strategically, particularly in responding to detractors.

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Trygve B. Broch

This article explores gendered sport communication in Norway. The data highlight Norwegian TV2’s live game commentaries of the 2009 women’s handball world championships, as well as live and studio commentary and journalistic reports concerning the Norwegian national women’s handball team from 2009 to 2013. The narrative-analytic approach is structural-hermeneutic and concerned with processes of meaning making. Instead of reading off gender/macrostructure in data, this project maps the semiotic culture structure of mediated women’s handball and shows how gendered meaning is creatively used to inform understandings of female handballers’ situated practices. The analysis first outlines the cultural binaries that constrain the media presentations of Norwegian women’s handball, then scrutinizes how gendered conceptions of sport and female athletes are used to understand this binary culture structure. Analytically revealed is a staging of Norwegian women’s handball that portrays successful and powerful female bodies’ contextual conduct. Norwegian women handballers are playing the aggressive and physically violent game in what is analyzed as a gender-appropriate manner.