Rising interest in sports media and communication research

Rising interest in sports media and communication research

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When I started my Ph.D., my supervisor introduced my colleagues and me to the European Association for Sport Management (EASM), which was established in 1993. We went as a group to attend the 18th EASM Conference in Prague in 2010. I was able to discuss my topic, share ideas and learn from many pioneers in the field who had similar interests.

It was the place that helped me stay up to date. Since then, I have been keen in following the event’s news to learn more about what is new in the field and about my specific interests — sports media and communication.

Although the event takes place in a different European country every year, the 28th edition — held virtually this year due to the pandemic — attracted about 3,028 attendees throughout the week, including delegates from 98 countries.

I have to say that for the past 10 versions there has been significant variation between topics. Yet, it is also crucial to acknowledge the existence of interest and the importance of further research on the pandemic through the use of social networks and their impact on the promotion of sports participation.

Here are the salient points of the topics discussed in the 28th EASM about sports media and communication and how social media impacts many fields, including sports:

It is essential to clarify that some of the topics introduced by researchers are still a work in progress, such as the study: “Examining USA Gymnastics Presidents’ Responses to a Sexual Abuse Scandal: A Crisis Communication Perspective,” by researchers Andrea Geurin and Erin McNary from Loughborough University in the UK and the University of Miami in the US, respectively. The purpose of the study, according to the authors, is to examine the crisis communication strategies used by four presidents of USA Gymnastics who led the organization following the news of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal in 2016. The study looked to highlight why specific strategies were more effective than others.

In “Engaging an Online Audience: Content Analysis of Female Social Media Influencers in Golf” by Robbie Matz and Allison Smith from California State University and the University of New Mexico in the US, researchers came up with an initial analysis that found two types of common interactions that occur: Users seeking interaction related to golf inquiries, and users that comment on the physical appearance of women influencers. Another finding from the study was the prevalence of a strong “support group” among fellow women social media influencers.

A third exciting topic discussed was based on the study “The Motivation Behind Following Athletes Social Media Pages — Creating and Validating a Measurement Scale,” by Attila Kajos from Corvinus University of Budapest in Hungary. Here, results indicated that the most important motives in following an athlete’s social media pages were seeking emotions towards the athlete’s team, the athlete’s private life and role model function, while performance, physical appearance and fame had no significant predictive effect on social media consumption behavior.

Meanwhile, another study addressed the media consumption angle, “Against the Main Stream: Field Evidence on a Positive Link Between Media Consumption and the Demand for Sports Among Children,” by Danie Weimar and Christoph Breuer from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany and German Sport University in Cologne. Research showed that the anime program “Attack No. 1” significantly boosted volleyball club enrollments among young female children in Germany. Even though the main characters were female, their sport-related characteristics might have also led to role model effects among young male viewers, researchers said.

The “Perceptions of the Role of Traditional and Social Media in Communicating Corruption” study by Argyro Elisavet Manoli from Loughborough University underlined how volatile perceptions towards media can impact people’s future interest in, and engagement with, traditional and social media.

In “Assessing Crisis Response Strategies in Sport Organizations: Using Text Mining to Understand Fan Online Engagement,” authors Han Soo Kim, Minjung Kim and Taeyeon Oh from the University of Mississippi in the US claimed research can serve as a reference to the development and assessment of diverse strategies for crisis management employed by sport organizations.

Last but not least is COVID-19-related study “Digital Media and Engagement in COVID-19 Times: A Preliminary Study in Brazilian and Portuguese Football Clubs” by Nicolas Caballero Lois, Alan de Carvalho Dias Ferreira, Andre Imbroisi MartinsBorba and Paulo Henrique Azevedo from the Higher Education Institute of Brasilia, Porto University in Portugal and the University of Brasilia in Brazil, respectively. A preliminary analysis showed that the reality of social distancing amid the pandemic failed to prevent sports organizations being active in the market, despite a lack of sports competitions.


• Dr. Razan Baker is a director  of international communication at the  Saudi Olympic Committee, member board of directors, Saudi Bowling Federation; media and marketing committee member, Saudi Arabia Olympic Committee;  specialist in corporate social responsibility in sports, and a sports columnist/journalist. Twitter: @RazanBaker

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