Sports Communication 2017 Abstracts

Two Sides of the Chinese Sports Media Story: Contrasting State-Owned and Commercially-Sponsored Chinese Websites by Nation and Sex of Athlete • Andrew Billings, University of Alabama; Qingru Xu; Mingming Xu, Beijing Sport University • This study utilizes social cognitive theory to content analyze news coverage of two state-owned and two commercially-sponsored Chinese sports websites over a 14-day period, focusing on issues of nationality and biological sex. Examining 3,417 news stories and 2,327 news images, this study uncovered fruitful, substantial, and significant results, indicating that the online sports coverage on state and commercial media can be largely divergent, with the former prioritizing party-state ideology and the latter pursuing commercial profits. Compared to the state websites, the commercial websites tended to provide foreign athletes or teams more coverage; whereas the sexualization of women athletes on commercial websites was significant, yet virtually non-existent on state websites. Implications and further research directions are also offered.

How Athletes’ Health-related Messages on Social Media Affect Exercise Attitudes and Behaviors • Jan Boehmer; Galen Clavio • Improving dietary and exercise habits is one of the best ways to reduce cardiovascular disease and improve general public health. However, despite increased academic and professional interest in the promotion of healthy behaviors, recent years have seen a decline in individuals’ adherence to healthy lifestyle choices. And even if individuals start exercise regimens, high rates of attrition are common across many programs. This study investigates two major elements that could help deliver health messages to underserved audiences and increase their likelihood to exercise: athletes and social media. More specifically, we investigate how athletes’ health-related messages on social media affect individuals’ perceptions of athletes as role models, as well as exercise attitudes and behaviors. Results of Structural Equation Modeling suggest that exposure to health-related messages is related to increased perceptions of athletes as role models, which in turn predicts more positive attitudes towards physical exercise and subsequent exercise behavior.

Contributing to the Decline of the American Male: Bottom-up Framing of Pop Warner Safety Policies • David Cassilo, Kent State University; James Sanderson • This research explored bottom-up framing in response to U.S. youth football organization Pop Warner eliminating kickoffs in its three youngest age divisions. Data were obtained from 1,043 Facebook comments posted to news articles covering the policy announcement. Through thematic analysis, participants framed the policy as: (a) Effect on the NFL; (b) Overreaction; (c) Competitive Disadvantage; (d) Negative Effect on Masculinity, (e) Evidence of America’s Decline; and (f) Policy Legitimization. Results reveal that the public has complex and divergent interpretations of health and safety initiatives and sport, equating these changes with declining American social structures. Consequently, health and safety initiatives in football are likely to be with strong resistance, as people seek to protect the sport from elements they perceive to be weakening American society.

The Making of Social Sports Fans: Factors Affecting Sports Consumption on Social Media • Sylvia Chan-Olmsted, University of Florida; Min Xiao; Lisa-Charlotte Wolter, Hamburg Media School • With the goal of investigating sports fans’ social media behavior in more depth and incorporating consumers’ overall media consumption habit in the process, this study explored how various sports fandom and media platform factors influence sports consumption on overall media and social media. From the perspective of motivation and behavior driver for overall sports media use, the finding suggests the importance of information and socialization. From the perspective of consumer media habits, a reliance on TV and mobile phone seems to be most relevant to one’s level of sports media consumption. Comparatively, sports consumption on social media is affected by a slightly different set of variables. It was found that the negative aspect of “cutting off reflected failure” promotes a more active fan engagement on social media as consumers try to handle the disappointment. Information acquisition is also more likely to motivate higher engagement level when consumers use social media for sports. The analysis of moderators suggests that prosocial behavior enhances the social-identify driven fan behavior in terms of engagement levels on social media platforms, especially from the perspective of CORFing in all aspects and both BIRGing and CORFing for the higher-level engagement of social writing. Prosocial behavior boosts the value of information and escapism when consumers actively co-create content on social media for sports purposes.

From 1996 to 2016, two decades of NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage • Roxane Coche, University of Memphis; C.A. Tuggle, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill • Scholarly literature about gender issues in sports coverage supports two main conclusions: women’s sports receive little coverage in the media compared to men’s sports, and the little media coverage they receive rarely focuses on female athletes’ athletic skills. Media coverage during the Olympic games is the one exception to these rules. The Olympics offer female athletes the opportunity to shine on the biggest stage and media tend to cover women’s sports more and better during those events. The 1996 games in Atlanta were called the “Olympics of the women” mainly because of the unprecedented amount of media exposure some female athletes got. Since then, five more summer Olympic games have taken place and during each of these, NBC was the Olympic network in the US. How has its primetime Olympic coverage evolved throughout the years? The study is a quantitative content analysis of NBC’s United States primetime broadcast coverage of the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 summer Olympic games for gender equality. Results indicate that while NBC’s coverage of women’s sports has increased, it has also become increasingly less diverse, focusing on only five major sports, all deemed “socially acceptable” per stereotypical gender norms (gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, swimming and diving). Meanwhile, competition involving physical power or hard body contact is almost never featured in primetime. Furthermore, NBC uses more male speakers than it does female speakers and sources are more likely to be men, unless they are friends or family members of an athlete.

Concussions, the Emerging Public Health Crisis and why Media Advocacy is Needed • Christian Dotson-Pierson • Health practitioners call concussions an emerging public health crisis, with over four million concussions reported annually in the United States. Former NFL players were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) during autopsies, spurring some current players to retire. This qualitative study interviewed concussion advocates to learn which communication channels they use to spread awareness. Findings reveal that traditional and new media are top choices to convey information to parents, athletes and coaches.

Sport for Development and Peace: Framing the Global Conversation • Virginia Harrison, The Pennsylvania State University; Jan Boehmer • This study seeks to understand news coverage of Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) and Sport for Peace (SFP). A content analysis of 284 English-language newspaper articles from August 2013 to November 2016 was conducted using Iyengar’s (1991) thematic and episodic frames and Semetko & Valkenburg’s (2000) five generic news frames. Results indicate that coverage is often episodically framed and emphasizes responsibility and human interest. Recommendations were made for journalists covering this topic globally.

Life in Black and White: Racial framing by sports networks on Instagram • Rich Johnson, Creighton University; Miles Romney, Brigham Young University • Research on racial framing in sports is a robust area of scholarship. Studies have shown that minorities are frequently framed along racial stereotypes. However, as social media platforms (SMPs) continue to grow in importance as a space for sports networks (SNs) to share news and information, the question emerges whether the images SNs’ social media accounts reflect racial framing found in news coverage on traditional platforms. The purpose of this study is to determine whether racial framing occurs in the everyday news coverage of the four major American sports networks ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, and CBS Sports. Researchers examined the content of images SNs shared on Instagram—a social media application that focuses on visual communication. Operating under framing theory (Goffman, 1974) and using a framework established by Hardin et al.’s (2002) study on framing of Olympic athletes in newspaper coverage, this study examine nearly 2,000 images shared by the SNs on Instagram and discovered that significant discrepancies exist between the way Black subjects and White subjects were framed. Specifically, Black subjects’ athletic achievements were overemphasized at the expense of their other virtues and skills. Ultimately, this study corroborates scholarship on race in sport.

Sponsor Advertisement Embedded in Instant Replay Video (AIRV): The Effectiveness of AIRV in Professional Tennis Events • Jihoon (Jay) Kim, University of Georgia; Joe Phua, University of Georgia • Despite increasing usage of instant replay video (IRV) in sport game broadcasts, no systematic research has been done on the effectiveness of an advertisement embedded in IRV (AIRV). The purpose of the current study is to test the effectiveness of AIRV and to explore how AIRV influences perceived brand attitude, behavioral intention, and brand trust of sport spectators. Details about the effects of AIRV on brand preferences are presented, and theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.

Effects of Social Media Use for Sports Events and Discussion Network Heterogeneity on College Students’ Identification and Collective Self-esteem • Bumsoo Kim, University of Alabama • Based on the perspective of social identity theory, this study focuses on the effects of college students’ social media usage for school sporting events and discussion network heterogeneity on psychological outcomes—college identification and collective self-esteem. The research empirically explores the direct effect relationships between social media usage for sports and discussion network heterogeneity and between network heterogeneity and collective self-esteem/college identification. The moderating effects of ethnicity (White vs. other ethnic groups) on the relationship between discussion network heterogeneity and the two outcome variables were also examined. Finally, the indirect effect of social media usage for sports on college identification/collective self-esteem through discussion network heterogeneity was tested. The results support the direct and indirect effect relationships among the variables, but only a significant moderating effect of ethnicity was discovered in the relationship between network heterogeneity and college identification.

Gender Differences in Sports Media Consumption • Daniel Krier • This study investigates whether increases in sports team identity and sports media involvement correlate with increased amounts of daily sports media consumption. In addition, antecedents to involvement are incorporated into the research model to determine which discrete motivations show significant relationships with changes in involvement and time spent consuming. An investigation into significant gender differences in motivations to consume as predictors of consumption per day is carried out via Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM).

Twitter and Olympics: Exploring Factors which Impact Fans Following American Olympic Governing Bodies • Bo Li, St Ambrose University; Olan Scott, University of Canberra; Steve Dittmore, University of Arkansas; Sheng Wang, University of Sussex • Guided by economic demand theory, researchers aimed to examine how Olympic audiences utilized Twitter to follow American National Governing Bodies during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. After studying 33 NGBs’ Twitter accounts, researchers found that team’s performance and the number of tweets had positive relationships with increasing the number of NGB’s Twitter followers. The researchers expect that the results will help communication practitioners of Olympic sports have a better understanding of fans’ social media usage.

Parental perceptions of USA Football’s Heads Up campaign • Judson Meeks, Texas Tech University; Harper Anderson; Alexander Moe, Texas Tech University; Mary Norman, Texas Tech University; Trent Seltzer, Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication • USA Football’s Heads Up campaign was established to address the concussion epidemic in youth football and teach adolescents good foundational skills. Parents must perceive the USA Football campaign as trustworthy and credible for the program to be successful. Through a series of interviews with parents, we assessed parental trust in the campaign. Findings indicate that most parents are unaware of the campaign but would feel safer if their children participated in Heads Up football leagues.

Just how they drew it up: How in-house reporters fit themselves into the sport-media system • Michael Mirer, University of Wisconsin • Drawing on perspectives on professionalism that view it as a process of defining boundaries and building relationships, this paper uses interview data and content analysis to examine how in-house reporters locate themselves within the sports-media production complex. In-house reporters accentuate professional similarities to journalists and use this to define their roles in sports organizations’ corporate structures. Their view of professional authority has implications for sports journalism and study of the sports-media production complex.

Bleeding the Team Colors: An Examination of Fan-Team Emotional Brand Attachment and Identification on Instagram • Hollie Deis West, University of Wyoming; Cindy Price Schultz, University of Wyoming • Because of social media, brands can better understand how their consumers are responding to messages. This study found that fans who were digital natives and followed their favorite professional athletics team on Instagram had greater brand attachment and identification with the team than non-followers, and could more strongly identify brand messages. This held true for Facebook and Twitter followers. Therefore, sports marketers must provide meaningful digital content for fans to enhance brand attachment and identification.

Off the record: The popularity, prevalence, and accuracy of unnamed sources in NBA trade coverage • Sada Reed, Arizona State University; Guy Harrison, Arizona State University • The following study examines the prevalence of unnamed sources in National Basketball Association trade stories; cross-references unnamed sources’ claims of a potential trade with the NBA’s official transaction log in order to determine if the trade actually happened (and the unnamed source’s information was accurate); and scrapes Twitter in order to determine how frequently stories using unnamed sources were shared and if such stories were shared more frequently than stories with named stories.

Challenging a Boy’s Club: Reputation management and the case of pay inequity in professional women’s sport • Terry Rentner, Bowling Green State University; David Burns, Salisbury University • Media attention regarding the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Championship and the U.S. women’s hockey team boycott have put pay inequity in sports in the spotlight. While the debate itself is not novel, it is clearly unsettled. This paper explores how sport organizations may face a reputation crisis due to growing equal pay demands. The paper addresses discrepancies and impact of media rights, sponsorships, and culture. Best practices, communication strategies, and reputation management are discussed.

Sometimes It’s What You Don’t Say: College Football Announcers and their Use of In-Game Stereotypes • Brad Schultz, University of Mississippi School of Journalism; Mary Sheffer, University of Southern Mississippi; Nathan Towery • A content analysis of live college football broadcasts was conducted during the fall of 2016 to analyze the comments of the game announcers. The analysis sought to determine whether such announcers (play-by-play persons, color analysts and sideline reporters) used stereotypes and how such stereotypes were used. A random sample of games (one per week for each of the 13 weeks in the season) revealed that announcers still rely on racial stereotypes, especially regarding the skill of the players. Stereotypes related to masculinity and aggression were not as prevalent. Implications of this trend were analyzed and discussed.

Gender, Parasocial Interaction, and Nonverbal Communication: Testing the Visual Effect of Sports Magazine Cover Models • ben wasike, university of texas rio grande valley • An experiment examined gender, parasocial interaction, and nonverbal communication regarding sports magazine cover models. Correlation exists among parasocial interaction, nonverbal communication, and gender. Female cover models elicited larger effects. However, gender did not correlate with parasocial interaction or nonverbal communication among subjects, contradicting literature. Parasocial and nonverbal scales positively correlated. In conclusion, static images are reliable experimental stimuli for parasocial interaction studies and nonverbal scales, and sports magazines are better served by featuring more women.

It’s Going to Be Our Year! Examining Online Engagement Behaviors Among Sport Fans • Brandi Watkins; Stephanie Smith, Virginia Tech • Understanding sport fan engagement is an essential for developing effective strategic communication plans. Karjaluoto and Salmi (2016) suggest investigating communication strategies organizations can implement to connect with fans. This paper answers that call by following a cohort of sport fans during a season to determine how team involvement and expectations for the team influenced online engagement. Findings revealed sport fan online engagement is consistent throughout the season and offer insights into online fan engagement.

Gender Differences Through the Lens of Rio: Australian Olympic Coverage of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games • Qingru Xu; Olan Scott, University of Canberra; Andrew Billings, University of Alabama; Melvin Lewis; Stirling Sharpe • Forty-five broadcast hours of the Seven Network’s were examined regarding clock-time, name mentions, and descriptions divided by gender, finding that the Seven Network devoted nearly equal clock-time to men and women athletes, yet 14 of the top 20 most-mentioned athletes (70%) were men. In terms of word-by-word descriptors, gender differences were also uncovered on many levels relating to attributions of athletic success, failure, personality, and physicality. The findings of this study suggest that—at least within an Australian sports context—gender portrayals ranged from relative equality to significant differences depending on the metric employed. Theoretical and practical implications are provided.

Collaborative touchdown with #Kaepernick and #BLM. Sentiment analysis of Tweets expressing Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during national anthem and its association with #BLM • Joseph Yoo, Jordon Brown and Arnold Chung, The University of Texas at Austin • Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem caused heated debates on Twitter. Users expressed emotions by using the hashtags #Kaepernick and #BLM. Based on Papacharissi’s (2016) affective publics, this study conducted sentiment analysis to interpret the sentiment toward Kaepernick’s protest. The hashtag #BLM contributed to the formation of positive sentiments. While most tweets with negative sentiments criticized Kaepernick and his protest, others tweeted negative words to express their feelings about racism.


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