Since 2015, I’ve been involved with some work in athlete branding, media management, and crisis communication with my colleague Thilo Kunkel of Temple University. The first of our publications was published in late 2016 about the work we have done with Michael Lahoud, who is a professional currently playing for Miami FC in the North American Soccer League (NASL). He was born in Sierra Leone, where he escaped civil war when he was six years old. As a refugee, soccer helped him to integrate in the United States of America, where he was drafted as the ninth overall pick in the 2009 Major League Soccer (MLS) Superdraft. He is a community advocate who uses his sport to support charitable efforts, such as The Wall Las Memorias project, the NoH8 campaign, and Schools for Salone. He was the Major League Soccer Humanitarian of the Year in 2010, and together with Kei Kamara, he is the recipient of the 2015 FIFPro World Players’ Union Merit Award (a prize worth $25,000), which recognized their involvement in the Schools for Salone project that builds schools in their home country of Sierra Leone. His brand is Soccer can make a difference. This interview consists of two parts, with the first part being conducted in December 2015 when he was a player of the MLS team Philadelphia Union, and the second part being conducted in July 2016 after two transfers within 4 months. The interviews provide an overview of his approach to athlete branding via social media, and its impact on his career.
In the context of international sporting contests, which typically attract great interest globally, the coverage of these events by newspapers help to define, influence, and sometimes reflect mainstream beliefs. Although media consumers have no influence over how stories are framed, editors and journalists can construct their narratives and stories to attract, maintain, and foster continued media consumption (Scott, Zakus, & Hill, 2014; Vincent & Crossman, 2012). Informed by framing theory, this study strove to investigate how two nations’ coverage of the Rugby World Cup (RWC) was characterised. Framing occurs as the media actively select certain aspects of an issue to report, affecting the understanding of the message people receive (Entman, 2007).
We conducted a content analysis of the newspaper coverage of the 2015 RWC in New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia and have recently had it published in the International Review for the Sociology of Sport. This study is currently in press at this journal and is available from the publisher, academia.edu, and researchgate.
Recently, I was able to work with Dr Bo (Norman) Li and Dr Steve Dittmore on a paper to uncover how Western and Chinese sport fans, particularly those following the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team, ecome attached to the club. This study will be published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Sport and Social Science’s forthcoming special issue on Sport in China.
Given the availability and usage of Twitter, professional sport organizations attempt to embrace this emerging medium to engage with sports fans around the world. While many sports fans use Twitter globally, Chinese sports fans primarily embrace localized social media platforms, such as Weibo, to follow their favourite teams because many international mainstream social media services are banned in China. This study aimed to investigate the similarities and differences between Chinese National Basketball Association (NBA) fans and Western NBA fans in terms of their social media usage and points of attachment to a team with a global presence. The results revealed that Chinese digital NBA fans expressed higher dependence on using social media in their daily life compared to Western counterparts. In terms of sports fans’ points of attachment, Chinese NBA fans had higher associations with basketball, NBA players, and the NBA than Western counterparts, while Western fans perceived a higher attachment to the team.
SEGMENTATION OF A PROFESSIONAL SPORT TEAM’S SOCIAL MEDIA COMMUNITY
Katherine Bruffy (Unitec Institute of Technology) firstname.lastname@example.org
Olan Scott (University of Canberra) email@example.com
Michael Naylor (AUT) firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony Beaton (University of Canberra) email@example.com
The relationship people have with sport teams ranges from the very casual (those who might view parts of matches on television when their schedule suits) to being an avid fan and organising one’s life around the activities of the team. The varying strength of this connectedness has been captured in Funk and James’ Psychological Continuum Model (PCM; 2001). Four stages of increasingly deep connection were proposed (Awareness, Attraction, Attachment and Allegiance), and have now been explored thoroughly with Beaton and Funk (2009) developing an algorithm that relies on facets of the involvement construct (Beaton, Funk, Ridinger & Jordan, 2011) as a staging mechanism for placement along the PCM.
One way in which sport fans now connect to the teams they follow is through social media. With the proliferation of social media, consumers are able to connect to teams more easily and more often. As early adopters of social media, organisations within the sports industry have embedded social media into marketing (Eagleman, 2013), communication (Thompson, 2013), and public relations (Sanderson, 2010) mix. The purpose of the current research is to explore a professional sport team’s social media community and segment based on connectivity.
Data (n = 311) for the study were collected online over several days during the second half of the New Zealand Breakers’ most recent ANBL season. The sample was predominantly female (58%) and the mean age was 36. Most respondents reported using Facebook (98%) and Twitter (42%) at least once a week, while a significant majority of respondents (77%) reported engaging with the Breakers’ social networking sites at least “a few times per week”. Exploring the underlying psychology and behaviours of a professional sport team’s social media community using the PCM and involvement construct represents an important contribution to sport management literature. In addition to questions that generated the above demographic and behavioural profile, individuals were also asked to respond to questionnaire items designed to measure the involvement construct (Beaton, et al., 2011) and resistance to change (Pritchard, Havitz & Howard, 1999). The involvement construct dimensions (Hedonic Value, Centrality, Symbolic Value) and resistance to change were measured with three items each. These items were included so that data could be fed into the staging algorithm that was to be used in subsequent analysis.
A larger than expected segment (40%) of those within the Breakers’ social media community who completed the questionnaire were placed within the Attraction stage of the PCM. This finding has significant implications for those working to enhance the depth of the relationship between a professional sport team and its fans. Indeed, important processes like attitude strengthening and the development of relationship meaning are believed to be ongoing at this stage so social media can be used to nurture that growth. Less than 15% of questionnaire respondents were placed in the Allegiance stage. These findings may help to dispel the myth that social media is nothing more than an additional means to connect with already deeply loyal and identified fans.
Why I Movember
For the past seven years, I have taken part in Movember, which is a charitable initiative in which men grow moustaches and raise money during this campaign. The Movember campaign seeks to raise awareness for health issues facing men, such as testicular cancer and depression. You can read more about Movember’s mission, vision, and values here: http://au.movember.com/about/vision-goals
I have a deeply personal reason for doing Movember and that is that my family suffered dearly as a result of my father’s life-long battles with depression after serving with the Canadian Armed Forces in the Korean War. We now know this more commonly as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but this was not a common phrase in the 1960s to 1990s.
Through his depression, my father also had a dependence on alcohol and our family suffered because of it. Truth be told, I’ve never seen him have a drink in my life. He wasn’t an everyday drinker or even an occasional drinker; he was a binger whereby he’d go out for a few days and binge, then sober up and come back home like nothing had happened. This binging obviously put strain on our family, as mom had to make alternate arrangements for her children’s caretaker when he wasn’t around and she was working in the evenings. It also impacted the family in that my father missed some family events over the years, so our family photos are incomplete because he wasn’t there.
My father died in 1998 and I often wonder, what if? What if he didn’t drink, would he still be alive? Would he have attended my university graduations (I’ve had four)? Would he have walked my sister down the aisle at her wedding? There are a myriad of other ‘what if’ questions that I could type, but won’t. I, obviously, will never know the answer to these (and all other) questions, but it’s something that I never want my family, friends, colleagues, and anyone else to ask about me. What if Olan didn’t drink, would he have (been to this event with us, gone for an early surf with us, been fit for life, supported us, and anything you can think of)?
This is why I do Movember annually and will continue to do so. Many men go unchecked for health issues for a myriad of reasons and my goal is to raise money for Movember so resources and programmes can be put in place to help me with their health issues. After reading this, if you feel compelled to donate to my Movember endeavour, click here http://mobro.co/scottolan to donate.
Thanks for reading, Olan
About Movember’s mental health initiatives
AUSTRALIAN MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVE
In October 2014, the Movember Foundation announced the largest ever non-government investment in men’s mental health in Australia, allocating $22.3 million to fund programs to help change the face of men’s health. The Australian Mental Health Initiative will bring together teams from across sectors and around the country to collaborate on projects that focus on keeping men and boys mentally healthy in the community and workplace, encouraging those with a mental health problem to take action early and reducing the stigma associated with mental health.