Dear Australia, it’s been a blast

Dear Australian friends and family,

It is with mixed feelings that I write this post as the end of an extremely long and wonderful era in my life comes to a close. Four weeks from now, I am set to travel to St Catharines in Canada where I have taken a new job at Brock University, so I’ll be leaving Australia for the foreseeable future. I have truly enjoyed living all over Australia starting on the Gold Coast and ending in Canberra. I have done some amazing things in this country, made some amazing lifelong friends, and achieved a lot both personally and professionally. It has been a wonderful ride that I will look back on with fondness and cherish the memories that I have forever.

Initially, I came to Australia to live for one year while I studied a Master of Sport Management by coursework and I ended up doing a thesis, then a PhD, working all over the country and travelling the breadth of the country too. It’s been a most wonderful and magical 13+ years and I’m so thankful that I was able to spend so much time here.

I’ve made some many lifelong friends, many of whom are like family to me. From the folks I met during my studies on the Gold Coast, who I keep in contact with to those wonderful people in Canberra who I see more regularly and all the rest of the people at various stops in-between, I will truly miss you all and I look forward to keeping in touch with you via all the methods we now have at our disposal. My friends have meant the world to me and have shared in all the great and good times with me and supported me through the less good times, so to all of you, I say Thanks! You’ve been fantastic. For those travellers, you’re all most welcome to come visit me; particularly those travelling to Niagara Falls or Toronto as I’ll be very close by.

Over the years, I’ve done so many wickedly cool things, like skydive, learn how to surf, travel the outback, scuba dive all over the country, and so many other things that I could spend days naming. Nonetheless, it’s been a brilliant experience and I’ve memories to last many lifetimes. It has been such an eye opener being able to experience so much of Australia (and the world) during my time here and I’ve loved it beyond measure. I look forward to experiencing more of Australia as life moves into different chapters and teach my niece the nuances of the pick-and-roll and ensure she becomes a basketballer.

However, this isn’t saying goodbye, it’s me saying so long and in the words of Arnold in Terminator 2: “I’ll be back”

My move will be 24 August when the new chapter in life starts and this one concludes.

With lots of love, Olan

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Analysing the water cooler: Conversation analysis of the University of Canberra Brumbies’ social media users

Analysing the water cooler: Conversation analysis of the University of Canberra Brumbies’
social media users

Olan Scott, Ann Pegoraro, Jerry Watkins

This paper describes a conversation analysis of social media activity by fans of the University of Canberra Brumbies, a professional rugby union team based in the capital of Australia. Although sport only makes up a small percentage of overall television programming, around half of all content posted to Twitter in 2013 was related to sport (Neilsen, 2014). Facebook, Instagram, blogs and other social media are also extensively used by sport organizations, athletes and consumers. Therefore it is increasingly important for sport organizations  and athletes to prioritise these platforms in their marketing, communications, public relations, and management strategies (Hambrick, Simmons, Greenhalgh, & Greenwell, 2010); as social media give these actors an unfiltered voice in an increasingly cluttered marketplace (Wallace, Wilson, & Miloch, 2011; Scott, Bruffy, & Naylor, in press).

Historically, communication between (sport) organizations and consumers was one-way through the mass media. With the advent and proliferation of social media, the media landscape has been changed like never before (Pegoraro, 2013). Social network sites (SNSs) allow individuals and organizations to “(a) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (b) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (c) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (Boyd and Ellison, 2007, p. 211). Through the creation of SNSs, the gate-keeping role of the media has diminished as organization and consumers have a vehicle they can use to disseminate an unfiltered message to their key publics (Arsenault and Castells, 2008; Scott, Bradshaw, & Larkin, 2012).

Sport fans are avid users of technology (Kelly, 2013) and express themselves and access information online using multiple devices at the same time. For example, fans may follow their team on television while using their computer, tablet, or smartphone to view real-time statistics of the game or communicate with other fans watching the same contest.  This is termed second-screen consumption and can often also include the use of SNSs such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  The popularity of second-screen viewing and simultaneous engagement through social media, justifies the incorporation of SNSs into broader marketing strategy.  Many sport fans no longer wait for the media’s post-match analysis; instead social media allows sports fans to create and share their own narrative during the game.

Social media can enhance the communication strategy of sport organizations by creating additional opportunities to connect with the sport consumer. But the substantial time and expertise required to manage successful social media activity – including rapid response to fan posting and multiplatform content moderation – can present a significant barrier for smaller sport organizations. This exploratory study will create a conceptual model for planning the desired performance of social media within the overall communication strategy of a small- to medium-scale sports organization. This model will allow identification of the ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of social media activity within the organization’s communicative ecology (Hearn & Foth, 2007). A communicative ecology can be composed of three conceptual layers:

  • Who: the social layer of users or people, and the social modes which organise those people e.g. athletes, fans and coaches.
  • What: the discursive layer of content of communication e.g. the ideas or themes that distinguish the social interactions within the ecology.
  • How: the technological layer of enabling devices and connecting media.

Focusing on the social and discursive layers, this project will test conversation analysis (CA) software as a means to capture and analyse the structure, information content, and inter-mode relationships of sport fan communication in order to inform effective social media strategy. To date, much of the research in social media has had its focus on content analysis of social media consumer posts through content analytic methodologies on Facebook (Evans, 2010; Scott et al., 2012), Twitter (Blaszka, Burch, Frederick, Clavio, & Walsh, 2012; Frederick, Lim, Lim, Clavio, Pedersen, & Burch, 2014; Pegoraro, 2010), and blogs (Clavio & Eagleman, 2011; Kwak, Kim, & Zimmerman, 2010). The proposed study will build upon this line of research by analysing the conversations of publically available Twitter content. The MUSTT (Multiple User-defined Search Terms on Twitter) process refers to the collection of data from Twitter based upon a delineated set of key words for the purposes of academic research. This process enables researchers to extract tweets using search terms similar to the process of seeking newspaper articles from an online database (e.g., Naraine & Dixon, 2014). The MUSTT process of tweet extraction is able to provide useful information that researchers could utilize in addition to the user-generated content itself. This data will only be collected from open, public pages, constituting freely available public data.

Once data are collected using the aforementioned processes, they will be analyzed separately using manual techniques and the thematic analysis software tool, Leximancer. This is a qualitative automated tool which extracts textual data and detects key concepts that are clustered and displayed in a visual concept map (Sotiriadou, Brouwers, & Le, 2014). Given that Leximancer has been reported to be reliable in its reproducibility of results (e.g., Smith & Humphreys, 2006), as well as capable of analyzing large amounts of data (e.g., Penn-Edwards, 2010), it has gradually become more utilized in sport management research in recent years (e.g., Shilbury, 2012). Thus – with scholars indicating that social media research requires methodological enhancements (cf. Hutchins, 2014; Pedersen, 2014; Sanderson, 2014) – Leximancer was chosen to present meaningful analysis in a timely manner while also negating issues pertaining to (intercoder) reliability that a manual parsing of the data would bear.

The main outcome from this study will be a strategic communication model which forms the basis of applied research collaboration with the University of Canberra Brumbies rugby union team. Social media data collection and analysis via MUSTT and Leximancer will be supported by in-depth interviews with University of Canberra Brumbies staff marketing and social media staff, which will provide insight into the team’s existing communication strategy and the intended contribution of social media to this strategy. It is intended that the strategic communication model produced by this study will be useful to other small- to medium-scale sport organizations which seek to understand and track the social media conversations of fans.

This paper will be presented at the 2015 NASSM conference held in Ottawa, Canada

Some of my experiences on leaving home (from #sportjc)

On the 10th of April, I participated in an online chat (#sportjc) on Twitter hosted by @sportjobchat, which is a twitter handle or user name created by Remi Sabouri (Twitter @rsabouri) and Jonathan Levitt (@JWLevitt) whose main purpose is to help other entry-level (typically newly graduated students) job seekers discuss the job search (with recruiters, other students, academics, and others) and @sportjobchat acts as a filter for job advertisements.

Prior to the chat, @sportjobchat had been asked by a few fellow chat participants if there would be questions about working outside of the USA (Note: this chat is somewhat Ameri-centric, as the hosts and (seemingly) most of the participants are from the USA) and @sportjobchat asked me if I could inform the participants about my experiences working and studying in another country. For those new to my writings, I’m originally from London, Ontario and have lived in Australia since 2005.

During this particular chat, one of the questions posed to the participants was whether any had a desire to work or had worked/studied internationally. I answered that I’d both studied and worked in Australia and noted that leaving home had many pros and cons. I was then asked by the host for my top pro and worst con. My biggest pro was “A3: Biggest pro – it’s different and gives me both work but more importantly new life experiences that I’ll leverage later in life #sportjc” and my biggest con was “A3: Worst thing I did was compare overseas nations to home. Doesn’t have this & that, rather than focus on the positives #sportjc.” As Tweets are limited to 140 characters, which hinders one from providing details, I thought I would elaborate using this medium.

I’ll start with my biggest con, which is the negative and progress to the positives about the benefits from my pro. As noted, my biggest mistaken upon moving here was comparing everything to home in Canada: Driving and walking on the left, the funny pronunciation of Aussies, store sizes, availability of my favourite items, the higher cost of goods, and many more. Right away, these comparisons put all my experiences in a negative light, as they were compared, unfavourably, to Canada. Even good experiences were downgraded due to my comparisons. For those embarking on an overseas or international trip, I offer this piece of advice: Take everything as it is. You aren’t home for a reason (I’m hoping you chose to leave) so don’t compare your new place of residence to home, because it could put a dark cloud on all your new experiences. Since I don’t want to cast a negative cloud over this post, I’ll end the negativity here.

As previously mentioned, my biggest pro was that I was living in a different country and I got to do many new things (socially, new educational pursuits, and new work experiences), which I would be able to leverage later in life. Once I was in the proper mindset to enjoy my new life here in Australia, I realised all the “cool” things I could do that I couldn’t do in London, Ontario.

I surfed for the first time and bought a surfboard! I now own two surfboards, two body boards, and one skim board. I think the only board I’m missing is a skateboard ;). I got my scuba diving certificate and dove at the Great Barrier Reef and in the Southern Ocean. I’ve been skydiving twice over the beach at Byron Bay. I watched Australian Rules Football (AFL), Rugby League, and Rugby Union games for the first time. I’m not sure I’d have done any or all of these activities if I hadn’t left London, so I’m grateful I did.

I met many interesting people from all over the world during my master of sport management coursework (people from France, Oman, Germany, the Netherlands, USA, other place in Canada, and many more). I got to learn from them how sport is offered and which sports are popular in those nations. I was a research assistant for a variety of professors, which fostered my desire to do a masters thesis and PhD.

I worked with the AFL doing surveys on the Gold Coast area to see if there was public support for a new AFL team; there was and the team started last year, the Gold Coast Suns. I got to work for the V8 Supercars and the Indy Car series when it came to the Gold Coast for the Nikon Gold Coast 300.

I left the Gold Coast in 2010 to take up a full-time position as a teaching and researching academic at the University of Ballarat in Victoria near Melbourne. The interview process was quite extensive (my response to their selection criteria was many pages long!). I gained valuable experience as an academic in my 19 months there and met many wonderful people, who I consider friends and good colleagues. In January of 2012, I took up a new position at Edith Cowan University where I now work. I left University of Ballarat to take this new job because my research support (time and finance) is greater and I have a lowered teaching fraction. The move to Perth was fantastic and I’m really happy in my new role here. Perth has many great opportunities for me that I’m going to exploit, like living near the beach and being able to snorkel on a daily basis, which I do.

Through my academic and professional endeavours since I started in 2007, I’ve been able to travel to many nations to present my research at a variety of conferences. I’ve attended four Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ) conferences (Auckland, NZ; Fremantle, Gold Coast, and Melbourne, Australia), two Sport Marketing Association (SMA) conferences (Gold Coast, Australia and Cleveland, USA), one North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) conference in San Diego, USA, one North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) conference in London, Ontario, and three European Association for Sport Management (EASM) confereces (Heidelberg, Germany; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and Madrid, Spain). I’d previously been to several of these places, but many were new places that I hadn’t visited before and my research allowed me to attend and present at each of these conferences and see the sights in these places (Important note: I paid my own way to all but two (London and Madrid were partially funded)). I think this is important to note, otherwise, a reader may think that universities just pay for everything (I wish this were that case).

As you can read, leaving home has many pitfalls and difficulties, once you have overcome those, it became a wonderful experience for me. Had I not left home, I’m not sure I would have done as many things as I’ve been able to do, nor had the academic and professional success that I am currently enjoying.

As always, if something else comes to mind, I’ll update it.

Rugby World Cup 2011

During the September semester break, I was able to head off to New Zealand (NZ) and spend some time on the North Island, while also taking in a Rugby World Cup (RWC) match in Napier-Hastings at McLean Park on 27 September 2011. This was an unplanned trip that I booked while I was attending the EASM2011 conference, as I thought it would be an once-in-a-lifetime experience to attend a World Cup of any kind.

NZ was really pumped up and excited for the RWC (based on talking to kiwis and seeing all the billboards in support of the All Blacks) and I was lucky to see the All Blacks play from the fan zone on the viaduct in Auckland on the 24th. I tried to get tickets to see the match between the NZ All Blacks and France (I even went to Eden Park to buy some), however, there were too costly as I’m not a lottery winner. 1 ticket was NZ$460*. And that was a category 1 ticket (i.e. the most expensive). All the other categories were sold out. So I went back downtown to the fan zone to watch the game. It was such a spectacle though that the fan zone was at capacity, which was 20000 people, so I had to watch part of this game in a bar before my second attempt at entry was successful!

The next day I drove to Rotorua, which is famous for the thermal springs and boiling mud. The reason I travelled to Rotorua was to try to get tickets to see the match between Russia and Ireland. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. I was told that the Ireland bandwagon was full because Ireland beat the favoured Australian Wallabies team 15-6 in its previous match. Some Irish supporters with whom I spoke told me that they stayed longer in NZ because of the team’s success which left me to watch the game in an Irish bar with the other faithful souls who couldn’t get tickets either. Nonetheless, there was lots of drink to be had and a great time. On a fun positive note (not that this post needs more positivity) is that I stayed at the same hotel as team Russia. Nonetheless, after the 61-12 Irish win, the Russians didn’t make an appearance in the hotel bar where many people watched the end of the Scotland-Argentina match.

After a greasy breakfast to quell my hangover, I headed to the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal pools, where I was able to enjoy a great sunny morning and see the boiling water and the boiling mud for which this area is famous. I’d been to the geothermal pools before on my first trip to NZ, but thought it would be fun to go again. I was right; it’s such a novelty, that my delight was equal to the first time. Next, I drove to Napier to get ready for the Canada-Japan game the following day. It was a great drive to Napier with a stop in Taupo for lunch and a short walk. The rest of the drive had some wonderful sights and great weather to make the drive go by very quickly. In Napier, I went to its information centre, the I-Site to book my accommodation and get some information on the city where I would be spending 30 hours or so.

Once checked in to the hotel, it was time to find the stadium and get my tickets from the office. I was highly successful with the first task, as the stadium (McLean Park) was within a ten minute walk from my hotel and the Canadian team was practising when I got there. It was a closed practise, but I was able to watch behind a fence. I felt like a 10-year-old child waiting for the sporting hero. I, then, decided to wait by the team bus to wish the team luck and say hello. By doing this, I got to meet two of the Canadian players (one of whom was Taylor Paris) and its coach (Kieran Crowley) before the team left for its hotel. All three were very nice and appreciative of the support that they’d been receiving in NZ.

The next day, I took in the nice weather and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Napier before getting my costume on for the game (jersey, face tattoos, wig, etc). There were many people decorated in their team’s colours of red and white (both Canada and Japan’s colours). So one didn’t readily know which team the red/white person was supporting until you saw the shirt or spoke with them. There was much to do in the CBD of Napier, from a rugby themed jumping castle to viewing the art deco buildings for which Napier is famous. About an hour before the game, I went to the stadium to find my seat, take in the atmosphere, and enjoy the sights and sounds. I got lucky again, as I was able to see the Canadian team enter the stadium off of the bus and the players greeted the fans very nicely and politely, which was great.

The game was a great experience, with Canada easily outplaying Japan on the set pieces, but the final score did not reflect this, as it ended in a 23-all tie. It was a great back and forth game, with neither side able to secure the win. All in all, it was a super experience at the Rugby World Cup except what happened after the game, which was a 5.5 hour drive to Auckland to catch my flight back to Melbourne.

* Note: all figures are in New Zealand dollars unless indicated. Click here to convert NZ dollars to your home currency.

About me

Olan Scott, PhD is an Assistant Professor at University of Canberra in the Faculty of Health. Several courses I teach are: Sport Marketing, Sport Management and Development, and Sport Venues and Events. In my research, I explore the intersection of sport, business, and the media (print, electronic, and social).

I have published academic articles in Sport Management Review, First Monday, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Communication & Sport, International Journal of Sport Communication, among other. Further, I have several other articles either in review or in press in these and other journals. A full CV is available here.

My research has been presented at many domestic and international conferences, such as North American Society for Sport Management, European Association for Sport Management, North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, Sport Marketing Association, and Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand.

I actively use Twitter and my personal website (http://olanscott.com) to disseminate information about my teaching and research. Further, I use these media to learn more about relevant teaching and researching topics by engaging with others in academia and the sport industry

Thanks for visiting olanscott.com. Feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment!