Points of attachment on social media: exploring similarities and differences between Chinese and Western National Basketball Association fans

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.

The full paper is available here: from the publisher, academia.edu, or researchgate. The full abstract appears below.



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.


World Congress of the Sociology of Sport Conference abstract

This post is a copy/paste of an accepted abstract that will be presented at the 2013 International Sociology of Sport Association’s World Congress of the Sociology of Sport Congress in Vancouver, Canada (See: http://issa2013.org/).


TITLE: Nationalism and the National Basketball Association finals: An analysis of announcer discourse

AUTHORS: Olan Kees Martin Scott & Dwight Zakus

ABSTRACT: One of the key themes of contemporary media is to entertain the audience;  a central “function of the media [is] for diversion and enjoyment, in which the media provide stories, features, music, and films to make audiences laugh, cry, relax, or reflect rather than gain information” (Wilson, Gutierrez, & Chao, 2003, p. 40). Through the framing of sport broadcasts, which become the individual scripted storylines, commercial media seek to generate a large viewership as possible in order to on-sell viewers to advertisers and sponsors. Entman (2007) suggests that framing is a “process of culling a few elements of a perceived reality and assembling a narrative that highlights connections among them to promote a particular interpretation” (p. 164). As such, this study seeks to uncover how the concept of nationalism was portrayed by commentators during the broadcasts of the 2011 National Basketball Association finals. Further, the scripting tactics will be uncovered that were employed by sportscasters to possibly enhance the salience of storylines to viewers through a post hoc reconstruction of scripts. While a wide body of literature exists on nationalism and sport, this research analyses a series of events not often studied, an NBA finals. A content analysis of announcer discourse will be conducted to uncover how American (N=22) and international (N=8) professional basketball players were portrayed by announcers. A reliable and validated 15 category taxonomy (Scott, Hill, & Zakus, in press) will be used to analyze and evaluate the frames that were used by announcers to depict NBA players.

My thoughts on live tweeted lecture as assessment item

On 28 March 2012, I conducted a full lecture online using Twitter. It forms part of an assessment item for my first year unit Sport Marketing (unit code #SPM2122) in the Bachelor of Sport, Recreation, and Leisure. It was a mile a minute so to speak and very interactive.

The topics were initially posted on this website and not on the course portal, as I wanted to give everyone (students and the general public) the opportunity to read and research the topics that were going to be discussed. The chosen topics related to aspects of sport marketing that we’ve discussed in lecture over the past five weeks or those that will be discussed in the next week or two. Thus, the subjects that were analysed today were both topical and not too “out there” for my first year cohort.

It was my attempt to also ensure that the topics were both interesting to sport management students and would generate plenty of discussion. The live tweet chat had a similar approach to the group discussion that I ran several weeks ago and blogged about previously. Most students did their tweeting from wherever they were, with about ten joining me in the classroom where I conducted the tweetchat (they were excused from attending the lecture today, but an open invite was made to allow anyone to join me).

I had three questions prepared for each of the five topics to ensure that each subject was discussed for the allocated fifteen minutes. If one question fell flat, I had two back ups to use as well. The discussion response was overwhelming and I had to leave out several questions and an entire topic as the conversations (posting, replying, retweeting) were great.

The questions were:

Q1: Which AFL team will win the Grand Final?, Minor Premiership?, Wooden spoon? #spm2122 (this question was used as an ‘icebreaker’ type question to allow SPM2122 students to answer an easy question to quell any nerves that they may have had)

Q2A: How does Tennis Australia use the interest of #AusOpen to market tennis to wider public and increase overall participation? #SPM2122

Q2B: How can @AustralianOpen continue to engage fans through its smart phone app so fans don’t delete app once #AusOpen is over? #SPM2122

Q3A: Can the brand (not team) Gold Coast United (#GCU) be saved? #SPM2122

Q3B: What can #GCU (as an organisation) do to engage itself into the Gold Coast community to win fans? If anything at all? #SPM2122

Q3C: Will #SAVEGCU have any effect on #FFA & #ALeague decision? Give reasons

Q4A: The #NBA recently announced an exploration into jersey (uniform) sponsorships. From marketing perspective, what are your thoughts? #SPM2122

Q4B: Could a jersey sponsorship detract from the team’s brand (ie @manutd_fc or @WestCoastEagles vs @chicagobulls or Indiana @Pacers)? #SPM2122

Q4B: How can a team’s sponsor use social media to leverage its sponsorship of the team (i.e. SGIO using SM of @WestCoastEagles)? #SPM2122 (I mistakenly didn’t add the C to this, students did not seem to be confused by my mistake – everything happens so quickly during these live tweet sessions that spelling mistakes are inevitable).

Overall, there were 1097 total tweets in about one hour and thirty minutes. I’m still going through the data to see how many total users there were. The transcript is available here http://searchhash.com/link.php?q=%23spm2122&s=_spm2122_032800.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive from the students, who seemed to really enjoy the interaction and the different method of conducting discussion while also learning a bit more on how to use social media to engage and foster debate instead of using social media for the banality/vanity of life. The one negative view that students indicated was the speed at which the chat happened (relating to the speed of tweeting) and they had trouble keeping up. This feedback was expected as tweetchats can be daunting when doing it for the first time (this is the reason for doing it twice).

One of the interesting aspects of the results was that a major sporting team the AFL’s West Coast Eagles was tagged in a question (see above) and they replied and participated in the discussion. This would never happen in a normal group discussion setting, as the Eagle’s wouldn’t know that they were being discussed. I was very happy that they got on board this tweetchat and engaged my sport marketing students as it showed the power and the reach of social media in contemporary society. Since the tweetchat today, I’ve engaged the team to participate in the next discussion.

A surprise outcome of this tweetchat is that I’ve received a message from a Learning Designer from ECU’s Centre for Learning and Development, who wants to speak to me about what I’ve done today.

Last, due to the sheer number of tweets, the #SPM2122 hashtag trended in Perth (TOP 5) (Trendsmap.com/local/au/Perth).

Now, you may be asking yourself why did he do this? Here’s the answer:

Goals for students: It was my endeavour to teach university students to use social media as an engagement tool rather than for the banity/vanity of everyday life. As previously posted, “students usually have a wealth of practical knowledge from engaging with social media for personal use, the aim of this exercise was to provide a theoretical understanding about how to successfully use social media to foster” engagement within the wider community. I thought that an assessment task using social media would be a way in which I could ensure 100% buy-in by students as the Tweetchat would form part of my SPM2122 Sport Marketing’s marks.

Goals for me: I am very curious as to whether using social media in class (both “in” class and as a classroom tool) increases the students’ engagement with the course material. To answer this, I’ll be asking students for their feedback at the end of the semester and compare to the other unit which I teach. I realise that this is an imperfect method of collecting data and not statistically valid, however, it’s a starting point from which I can work. I’m only looking for anecdotal evidence at this stage.

I’ll update this blog as I get my head around what happened this morning, as it was my first time hosting a tweetchat.

Live tweet topics

Topic 1

In 2012 the Australian Open was quite successful in engaging fans from all over the world via its use on social media.

We will discuss event/sports apps and engagement.

In your research, also look at what London 2012 is doing with its social media.

Here are some links.







Topic 2:

Gold Coast United Football was officially announced as an expansion team for the A-League’s 2009-2010 season in 2008. The club was owned by Clive Palmer, the wealthiest man in Queensland until February 2012, when the FFA took over the club’s a-league license. In their first two A-League seasons, Gold Coast were one of the strongest clubs, performance wise, in the A-League, finishing in the top four on both occasions and making the finals series. Although, in their third season, their form dropped due to off-field instability surrounding player contracts, coaching staff and community support. Since its inception, Gold Coast has constantly been criticised about their average attendance. In their first season, they averaged close to 5,500 people and in their second season, they averaged just under 3,300 people per game, making them the lowest attended team. On 29 February 2012, the FFA revoked Clive Palmer’s Gold Coast United A-League licence.

We will discuss the marketing and community engagement of the Gold Coast United and the growing swell of support (See twitter hashtag #SAVEGCU for more) that the club is received. Also see the links below (http://www.savegcu.com/default.html and http://www.teampages.com/teams/58991-Save-GCU-Soccer-team-website


Topic 3:

Recently, the NBA announced that the league seeks to have jersey sponsorships.

We will discuss the pros and cons of jersey sponsorship from an international perspective.\

Here are some links about the story






Topic 4:

We will discuss how athlete and team sponsors can leverage and/or activate their sponsorship via social media.







Topic 5:

Social media. Recently USA sports magazine Sport Illustrated (www.si.com) put a hashtag on its magazine front cover.

We will discuss issues surrounding mainstream media’s incorporation of social media into its programming.

Here are two links to the SI cover.



Non sport example from The Bachelor



I’d suggest you research these topics and others that are related to allow us a robust conversation.

Sponsored vignettes during MediaSport telecasts: A case of the 2007 and 2008 National Basketball Association (NBA) finals.

This is a copy of the abstract I submitted to SMAANZ 2011 and will present the findings on Friday 25 November 2011 at 8:30 AM at the MCG in Melbourne.

Olan Kees Martin Scott a, Dwight Zakus, Brad Hill b, Heather A. Muir c, & Sue Brown a

a University of Ballarat, b Griffith University, c Bowling Green State University

Advertisers suggest that the general public views over 3,000 brand names and logos per day. From the brand name on an alarm clock to the many logos on a car, society is exposed to many marketing messages on a daily basis. How, then, does a television network attempt to ensure that broadcast sponsors’ names and logos are seen by viewers? Often, a television network will embed marketing messages into the live coverage of the event, which has been found to be a successful method of marketing to a captive audience (Wenner, 1989). For example, companies may sponsor segments of a telecast, such as the halftime show or the “players to watch” element. This study uncovered how one television network, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), embedded marketing messages into the play-by-play commentary of two end-of-season series, the 2007 and 2008 National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals.

According to Condry (1989), the business of a television broadcaster is not the selling of advertisements, programmes, or goods and services, but the selling of audiences: “people in very large numbers who have little else in common except that they are all ‘tuned’ in at the same time” (p. 23). This has led television organisations to move away from viewing their audience as reactive individuals “who passively watch one game[or show]after another, doing little but ingesting food along the way” (Gantz & Wenner, 1995, p. 70) to “engaging and involving their viewers” (Livingstone, 1998). Once a viewer is attached and engaged with a programme, that individual is more likely to become, and remain, cognitively and emotionally absorbed, and continue to consume other media programming (Livingstone, 1998; Wann, Grieve, Zapalac, & Pease, 2008). Once a broadcaster is able to provide the audience with reasons for television watching, it is able to mediate the audience and sell this captive population to advertisers and sponsors. A common method for promoting third party goods and services is during the advertising breaks during MediaSport (Wenner, 1998) coverage (Abelman & Atkin, 2002). However, a newer phenomenon is the inclusion of sponsored messages during the description of the game.

According to Mullin (1983), there are three broad ways in which a broadcaster can embed marketing messages into the telecasts of sport. These are: promote third-party goods and services, promote the participation (i.e., playing) of sport, and promote the future viewing of network programmes. A content analysis was conducted on ABC’s live telecasts of the NBA Finals to uncover how the ABC commercialised its broadcasts. Two salient themes emerged. First, ABC promoted the NBA online store. Second, many segments of the Finals were sponsored. In both of these categories, third party companies were incorporated into the coverage of the Finals. Examples of the ways in which sponsors were incorporated into the coverage of the NBA Finals will be presented at the conference.

Implications of this study include an increased valuation of advertising and sponsorship due to the announcers’ comments and the use of sponsored vignettes. Since these marketing messages occur during the event, rather than during advertising breaks, this may lead to greater audience viewership of the vignettes. Second, through the use of sponsored vignettes, advertisers are able to market to a captive audience (Wenner, 1989), as more viewers will watch these segments that are aired as part of the live coverage.

Stream: Sport and media

Keywords: sport media, advertising, sponsored vignettes, framing, and basketball