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Television broadcasters often exhibit bias in the reporting of sport events. Through framed discourse, networks embed multiple storylines to build and maintain audiences over the duration of an event. Research has typically focused on mega-events occurring every four years. This study, through content analysis of American Broadcast Company’s announcer discourse of a smaller annual event, the 2007 National Basketball Association finals series, found that the framing function of the media continued to be employed. Findings also revealed significant associations existed for play-by-play and colour commentary on the two competing teams that would serve to reinforce viewer beliefs. Commentary on the winning team emphasized skill, speed and creativity, whereas star players became the focus of the losing team. Sport marketers can gain practical utility for use of framing in broadcasts by providing commentators with prepared frames that could support viewer beliefs or expectations.
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Sociology of Sport
International Review for the
The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/1012690212466852
November 2012
2014 49: 728 originally published online 29International Review for the Sociology of Sport
Olan KM Scott, Brad Hill and Dwight Zakus
commentator discourse
Framing the 2007 National Basketball Association finals: An analysis of
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DOI: 10.1177/1012690212466852
Framing the 2007 National
Basketball Association finals:
An analysis of commentator
Olan KM Scott
Edith Cowan University, Australia
Brad Hill
Griffith University, Australia
Dwight Zakus
Griffith University, Australia
Television broadcasters often exhibit bias in the reporting of sport events. Through framed
discourse, networks embed multiple storylines to build and maintain audiences over the duration
of an event. Research has typically focused on mega-events occurring every four years. This
study, through content analysis of American Broadcast Company’s announcer discourse of a
smaller annual event, the 2007 National Basketball Association finals series, found that the framing
function of the media continued to be employed. Findings also revealed significant associations
existed for play-by-play and colour commentary on the two competing teams that would serve to
reinforce viewer beliefs. Commentary on the winning team emphasized skill, speed and creativity,
whereas star players became the focus of the losing team. Sport marketers can gain practical
utility for use of framing in broadcasts by providing commentators with prepared frames that
could support viewer beliefs or expectations.
basketball, content analysis, framing, National Basketball Association, sport media
Corresponding author:
Olan KM Scott, School of Marketing, Tourism & Leisure, Edith Cowan University, 270 Joondalup Drive,
Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia.
466852IRS0010.1177/1012690212466852International Review for the Sociology of SportScott et al.
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Scott et al. 729
There are only a few events on the annual sporting calendar that have the appeal to cap-
ture Western society’s attention in large numbers. Some of these are the Olympic Games,
Commonwealth Games, the football World Cup and other similar championship games
or series. These events have the ability to capture audience attention and make viewing
the event ‘virtually mandatory’ (Real and Mechikoff, 1992: 325) because of their cultural
appeal. To attain such attention, broadcasters ensure that content of the broadcast does
not solely focus on the sight and sound of an event (Rowe, 2004). Thus, multiple sto-
rylines and narratives (Chalip, 1992; Chalip et al., 2000) are embedded into a telecast to
ensure that casual viewers will be provided with numerous reasons to watch an event
(Harris, 2004; Wenner, 1998).
The basis for development of multiple storylines and narrative depicted in sporting
events by broadcasters is to gain access into viewers’ recognition and recall of past cul-
tural events, stereotypes and beliefs (Gitlin, 1980; Goffman, 1986), thus capturing their
interest. Framing has been characterized as ‘selecting some aspects of a perceived reality
and mak[ing] them more salient in a communicating text’ (Entman, 1993: 52) Thus, there
is a distinct selection by media producers and writers to emphasize aspects of a story
while hindering the salience of other stories or storylines (Billings and Angelini, 2007;
Eastman et al., 1996).
Often studies on sport media events are centred on the media’s ability to construct
‘social and cultural meanings far beyond the world of sport’ (Tudor, 2006: 219) in their
coverage as they attempt to attract and maintain the largest number of readers or view-
ers as possible throughout an event. For example, Silk (1999) found that The Sports
Network (TSN) created a storyline during the Canada Cup of Soccer (CCS) that focused
on Canadianizing the coverage of this event. TSN attempted to link any of the athletes
competing in this tournament to Canada. MacNeill (1996) also found similar results
when investigating the 1988 Olympic ice hockey tournament. The construction of
meanings and creation of storylines within broadcasts by media is typically termed
Studies into framing by media have focused on mega-events that occur every four
years. Hence, little work has been conducted on annual sport events to determine if the
practice of framing continues on broadcasts of lesser events in terms of audience reach.
To explore the framing of an annual event, the 2007 National Basketball Association
(NBA) finals provided a source of inquiry into how this tournament was framed by the
American Broadcast Company (ABC). The NBA is a professional basketball league that
comprises 29 teams from the United States of America (USA) and one from Canada.
This study breaks ground as it analyzes the framing of a single sport event by a broad-
caster to determine how the practice of framing was employed during an annual event.
As the NBA finals are a series of distinct but linked events with normally at least a one-
day break between each match, broadcasters can change the framing of the finals series
to capture, build and maintain audiences. Hence, this study will also focus on the media’s
ability to embed multiple themes and storylines into the coverage of 2007 NBA finals in
order to achieve their goal for developing large audience reach throughout the course of
a series of linked yet discrete events.
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730 International Review for the Sociology of Sport 49(6)
Literature review
One of the central themes of contemporary media is to entertain the audience and a cen-
tral ‘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 et al., 2003: 40). Related to entertainment are the con-
cepts of viewer ratings and advertising, which has led Altheide and Snow (1978: 190) to
comment that television ‘programs are commercials for commercials’ and ‘the goal and
logic of television is mainly economic – supply and demand – keep them both high’.
Consuming media forms a large part of society’s discretionary time. Previous research
found that ‘adults spend more than half of their waking lives in contact with the media’
(Nichols et al., 2002: 2). Thus, an electronic media format, such as television, is widely
consumed by Western society. Further, televised sport, through technological progress, is
constantly increasing media channels that include smart phones and video-on-demand
formats to extend broadcast content to audiences.
There are many events held annually on the sporting calendar. However, few are able
to attract global audiences in massive numbers like events conducted every four years,
such as the Olympic Games, the football (soccer) World Cup and the Rugby World Cup.
These events are often the site for study with investigations that include use of social
frameworks that mediate the audience to ensure continued and long-term viewing.
Research has shown that there are many reasons or motivations for why people consume
sports. Reception theorists, such as Fiske (1987) and Morley (2004), suggest that there is
not one main meaning when decoding text. Texts are polysemic in nature, which means
that there are many signs or meanings in each text. In addition, Chalip (1992) suggested
three prime sources of polysemic structures in research on the Olympic Games: multiple
narratives, embedded genres and layered symbols. Multiple narratives refer to the array
of messages that can foster the interest of a diverse audience in a region or nation (Chalip,
1992). Typically, narratives seek to add a dramatic appeal to the sports telecast through
varied discourse, such as David versus Goliath, smart versus athletic, us versus them
(Gusfield, 1987), personal triumphs, tragedies (Duncan, 1986) and (nationalistic) rival-
ries (Desmarais and Bruce, 2008).
The second element of polysemic structures seeks to understand the different genres
that are embedded into a sporting event in order to make an event more meaningful to the
audience (Chalip et al., 2000). Sporting events often have many non-sport genres embed-
ded to ‘foster fan identification’ (Chalip et al., 2000: 43). For example, Ward (1998) ana-
lyzed the opening day rituals in Major League Baseball and found that teams attempted to
promote fan interest in the home team, thereby suggesting that the home team would gain
an advantage during games.
Both narratives and genres provide consumers with meaning of an event; it is the
layered symbols that generate the ‘look and feel’ (Chalip, 1992: 93) of an event. Sporting
events utilize many historical, ritualistic, religious, artistic and mythical aspects to build
an appeal beyond the sport to cater to all consumer tastes and interests. Further, Chalip
(1992) suggested that the symbolism embedded into sport is effective because of the
meaning of the event that the symbols create for consumers. In addition, symbols ‘create
meanings for audiences beyond mere game or contest’ (Chalip, 1992: 93). Chalip (1992)
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Scott et al. 731
also indicated that all three aspects of polysemic structures (narrative, genres and layered
symbols) complement each other and can increase the appeal of an event and generate
consumers from different classes, genders and nationalities.
For example, Chalip et al. (2000) found polysemic structures (i.e. discourse that can
have multiple meanings) included several narratives or storylines that were able to
increase the number of viewers and their loyalty to media outlets that broadcast the 1994
Winter Olympic Games and the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. They found that the
planned use of narratives, genres and symbols may increase the interest of viewers,
which in turn would increase the value of sponsorships.
Further, such large-scale sporting events are often the site for study due to the large
media audiences generated by television broadcasters producing telecasts focused on
their ‘home’ viewers in order to increase the interest and participation of viewers in a
particular nation (cf., Angelini and Billings, 2010a, 2010b; Billings, 2009; Billings and
Eastman, 2003; Eastman and Billings, 1999; Larson and Rivenburgh, 1991; MacNeill,
1996; Silk and Falcous, 2005). In interviews with the American broadcaster of the
Olympic Games, Billings (2008) found that US National Broadcasting Corporation
(NBC) executives attempted to create a broadcast that featured athletes of many nations,
while maintaining an Ameri-centric focus to ensure that US viewers continued to watch
the Olympics coverage through featuring US home athletes more often than foreign ath-
letes. Often, this was due to the lack of knowledge viewers have about Olympic partici-
pants; thus, NBC focused its description of athletes employing nationalistic themes.
Nationalism during MediaSport (Wenner, 1998) broadcasts creates a ‘“feeling at home”
for that citizenry’ (Billig, 1995: 126). Framing broadcasts through focusing visual and
spoken discourse on a selected participant or participants by television networks is a key
tactic employed in capturing and building audience interest over the duration of an event.
In an analysis of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies, Larson and
Rivenburgh (1991) cross-culturally compared the coverage of the American, British and
Australian broadcasts of this event and found distinct differences. They found that NBC
broadcast a higher frequency of stories (many of which were pre-written by the host
committee), than did the Australian or British media. Similarly, another study found that
the Canadian and American broadcasters omitted substantial elements of the Opening
Ceremony of the 1992 Summer Olympics to embed television breaks (21% and 41%,
respectively, for each national broadcast) (De Moragas Spa et al., 1995). Thus, there was
a distinct selection by directors and producers of these networks to leave out elements of
the Opening Ceremonies. Further, Billings and Tambosi (2004) found that the US media
was biased in the coverage of the US football team during the 2002 football World Cup.
They found that US players received more comments and discourse of a higher quality
when compared to Brazilian players, even though Brazil was the eventual champion of
this tournament.
Frequently, a broadcast of a mega-event cannot have a singular focus on one element
as there are many events occurring simultaneously throughout the duration of an event.
For example, the quantity of events held during an Olympic Games is such that televi-
sion producers select which athletes to focus upon, what highlights should be shown
during a broadcast, and which sports to televise more often. The US coverage of the 2004
Summer Olympics held in Athens was studied and results showed that 85% of the top-20
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732 International Review for the Sociology of Sport 49(6)
mentioned athletes were not only from the US, but they also competed in the ‘more
higher profile sports’ (Billings and Angelini, 2007: 106). In their research on the amount
of time that a sport received, they found significant differences in the clock-time of vari-
ous sports, from zero minutes for men’s archery to six hours, 46 minutes for men’s athlet-
ics, which is also alternatively known as Track and Field in some nations (Billings and
Angelini, 2007). It was also suggested that television networks carefully select elements
of a MediaSport event, particularly those that will ensure that viewers will ‘tune in’ to
telecasts, allowing networks to generate higher viewership ratings for the broadcasts
(Billings and Angelini, 2007).
It is important for a media network to ensure that it keeps viewers returning in large
numbers in order to commodify and sell that audience to advertisers. By deliberately
framing a MediaSport event, networks provide viewers with ‘meaningful discourse’
(Hall, 1973: 4) to assist viewers to decode discourse in the manner intended by a broad-
caster. Utilizing a viewer’s capability to recognize and recall cultural experiences allows
networks to create symmetry between those viewers’ experiences and encoded messages
(both visual and spoken discourse) that connects them to a broadcast.
Studies on sport events have found many characteristics (e.g. Billings and Tambosi,
2004; Eastman and Billings, 2001; Sabo et al., 1996) that are used to promote and
describe an event in order to connect to viewers and generate a large audience reach. In
their study of the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens, Billings, and Angelini (2007)
also found that broadcast frames have the potential to be transferred from announcers to
the audience; thus, broadcast discourse has a strong cultural element and provides mean-
ing to the viewer. Through these frames viewers were provided with telecasts that a
broadcaster deemed more valuable in terms of garnering the highest quantity of viewer-
ship through the sports, athletes and nations that were shown on US television.
Also found in other studies on the Olympic Games was that a host country broad-
caster will skew its coverage of the event (e.g. Billings and Angelini, 2007; Billings and
Eastman, 2002; Daddario, 1994; Eastman and Billings, 1999; Larson and Rivenburgh,
1991) to include more segments from a home country perspective to create and foster
viewership during that event. For example, the US teams’ entry during the 1988 Olympic
Opening Ceremony that could only be seen by US television viewers was described to
have a ‘predictable style and structure’ (Larson and Rivenburgh, 1991: 83). This focus
served to personalize the coverage of this event and thus to create a ‘home’ nation focus.
Thus, NBC’s framing of the Opening Ceremony was consistent with the viewers’
Through the sport/media nexus, the relationship between sport and the public can be
strengthened and capitalized. Broadcasters attempt to mediate events through construc-
tion of specific discourses by announcers (De Moragas Spa et al., 1995). This has been
made easier through technological advancements, such as the Internet and video-on-
demand. These improvements in mass communication have made it easier for a viewer
to watch sport in real time no matter where or at what time it is occurring. Media events,
such as the Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games, have the capacity to become
holiday-like events (Dayan and Katz, 1992) because of their scale and social importance,
as well as how a broadcaster attempts to mediate its audience through framing the cover-
age of these events.
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Theoretical framework
Based on the notion of encoding/decoding (Hall, 1973, 1980), framing allows media to
emphasize predetermined discourse during television broadcasts. Media present discourse,
both visual and spoken, that needs to be unpacked or decoded by viewers. Through fram-
ing, a broadcast can aid the viewer in decoding messages by emphasizing aspects of the
telecast. There needs to be, however, ‘meaningful discourse’ (Hall, 1973: 4) provided to the
viewer to ensure that there is a symmetry or connection between the viewer’s experiences
and the spoken or visual discourse televised during a program.
According to Goffman (1986), an individual employs primary frameworks to aid in
recognizing an occurrence. Primary frameworks are defined as ‘rendering what would
otherwise be a meaningless aspect of the scene into something that is meaningful’
(Goffman, 1986: 21). Through the use of framing, a broadcaster is able to influence the
salience of communication that enables viewers to decode the discourse in the manner
intended by influencing which schema or primary frameworks are highlighted.
In Goffman’s (1986) notion of framing, there are two broad classes of primary frame-
works: natural and social. The former refers to ‘undirected, unoriented, unanimated,
unguided, [and] purely physical’ events (Goffman, 1986: 22). These events occur without
influence from outside sources. Social frameworks are related to the mediation of an audi-
ence and the reporting or commentating of sport matches, as social frameworks provide
‘background understanding for events that incorporate the will, aim, and controlling effort
of … an agency’ (Goffman, 1986: 22). Sport commentators and broadcasters provide
meaning to their audience about what is occurring on television and also present much
detail in the form of commentary and opinion about the participants. Thus, examining the
narratives of media representatives and their linkages to social frameworks is useful in
understanding the construction of a broadcast to attract, inform and entertain audiences.
Scheufele and Tewksbury (2007) describe framing as both a macro-level and micro-
level concept. Firstly, as a macro-level construct, framing refers to the ways in which
issues are presented to consumers by media communicators in order to contextualize
their texts to audiences. Thus, media communicators frame an issue to ‘reduce the com-
plexity’ (Scheufele and Tewksbury, 2007: 12) and make stories accessible to the general
public. As a micro-level concept, framing describes how people use information to form
their own opinions on an issue (Scheufele and Tewksbury, 2007).
Gitlin (1980) also characterized framing as consisting of three aspects: selection,
emphasis and exclusion. To apply Gitlin’s (1980) tri-classification of framing, the media
choose topics (selection) to be discussed (emphasis) and, lastly, the media determine
‘who or what does not get shown’ (Billings, 2004: 203) (exclusion). Therefore, these
three elements of framing have import in the depictions of NBA players, as the framing
or scripting of the finals by the ABC was revealed. In addition, Entman (2007) furthers
Gitlin’s (1980) characterization of framing through suggesting that framing involves the
‘process of culling a few elements of a perceived reality and assembling a narrative that
highlights connections among them to promote a particular interpretation’ (Entman,
2007: 164). Moreover, Scheufele and Tewksbury (2007) proposed that the way in which
issues are framed by the media have an influence in how mediated messages are under-
stood by media consumers.
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734 International Review for the Sociology of Sport 49(6)
The purpose of this study is to investigate whether the practice of framing is used by
television networks during broadcasts of a single annual sport event that has smaller audi-
ence reach to that found for mega-events. It will focus on the media’s ability to embed
multiple themes and storylines into the coverage of 2007 NBA finals to develop large
audience reach throughout the course of this annual sport contest: that is, in a series of
linked yet discrete events. The following research questions were analysed.
RQ1: What types of discourse were broadcast by announcers?
RQ2: Did bias exist in announcer discourse toward either team competing in this
RQ3: What types of themed discourse emerged that characterized differences between
the two teams competing (i.e. the Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs)?
All four of the 2007 NBA finals games featuring the San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland
Cavaliers comprised the sample. Only the live play-by-play coverage was investigated.
The pre-game, halftime and post-game shows were not included in the study. The inves-
tigation of content began when the pre-game studio announcers ended their show and the
game commentators commenced their discourse. Frequently, this was done several min-
utes prior to the actual ‘tip-off’ that starts the game. The need to commence analyzing
commentary before the actual game started provided an indication that framing of this
series and each game occurred, as typically commentators used this time to influence
viewers recall and recognition of past events related to the contest that was set to begin
shortly after commentating began.
Tudor (1992) found that the pre-game studio analysts will begin a frame and play-
by-play and colour commentators will not deviate from the selected storyline to keep
the selected frame (or story) in the minds of viewers during the description of an event.
Tudor (1992: 391–392) explains that the ‘commentary-driven process of “world con-
struction” can be seen at its clearest in those televised sporting occasions which extend
of a considerable period of time’. Thus, there are frames that broadcasters embed into
the discourse of an event to ensure that a frame is sustained throughout the duration of
an event to allow the audience to focus on multiple storylines while watching an event.
Analysing a finals series allows research to delve into discovering differences between
successful competitors, whereas the discourse surrounding a weak competitor may be
vastly different. Thus, the NBA finals provided an avenue into uncovering how discourse
may change over a series of one-off or discrete, but linked, sporting events.
Coding and analysis
As in previous studies (Billings and Eastman, 2003; Billings and Tambosi, 2004; Scott
et al., 2009a, 2012) and as noted above, only network commentary was included in the
study. Any discourse by families of the participants, coaches, players or spectators was
eliminated from the study as, presumably, there can be little control over remarks given
by non-network employees (Eastman et al., 1996). Neutral comments or play-by-play
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Scott et al. 735
comments were also not included in the analysis, as these merely reflect what is occur-
ring on the court and are characterized by Goffman (1986) as natural frameworks, which
refer to the unguided and un-coerced description of an event.
Each game was videotaped and then transcribed verbatim using Dragon Naturally
Speaking software (version 9). Transcription sheets were used to record: (a) which
announcer spoke each description; (b) the team of the player described; and (c) the result-
ant descriptor code. The descriptor codes were based on methods and inventories previ-
ously developed by Scott et al. (2009a, 2009b, 2012).
Here, this content analysis derived a set of contextual codes developed though the
application of the above published inventories against an analysis of the first match of
the 2007 finals series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs. In all,
15 contextual codes were included in the content analysis. The contextual codes are pre-
sented along with a brief comment about the application of each in Table 1.
Then, 18 minutes (15%) of each game was examined by a second researcher to ensure
that the commentary was transcribed reliably and represented both the content and the
context of the announcer discourse.
Cohen’s (1960) kappa for inter-coder reliability was used to determine the reliability of
the coding. Kappa scores are superior to other inter-coder reliability equations, such as
Holsti’s (1969) equation, because chance agreement between coders is eliminated. Inter-
coder reliability exceeded 76%, which indicates an acceptable level of reliability (Wimmer
and Dominick, 2006) and provided further support that the taxonomy fully captured the
sport of basketball as themes emerged that were identified and appropriate for this study.
Table 1. Taxonomy of quantitative themes
Theme Label Example of theme
1 Athleticism ‘He is so athletic around the rim’
2 Appearance/looks ‘Looks tired today’, ‘Look at the sweat on his
3 Background ‘He stands 6 foot, 5 inches’, ‘He plays in the
summer for Argentina’
4 Motivation ‘He really went for it there’
5 Skill ‘He is a great three-point shooter’, ‘He is the all-
time leader in field goal percentage for his team’
6 History ‘He played in the 2005 championships’
7 Work ethos ‘He was always practicing these shots for his
8 Leadership ‘The other players follow his lead’
9 Mentality/composure ‘He has a high basketball IQ’
10 Creativity ‘He is such a clever player’
11 Speed ‘He is so quick with the ball in the open court’
12 Experience ‘He has never played in the finals’
13 Negative descriptors ‘A poor defensive play there’
14 Positive descriptors ‘Nice pass there’
15 Coaching ‘He is a rookie coach’
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Finally, non-parametric chi-square tests were conducted using commentary percent-
ages as the expected score. In the analysis of broadcast television, expected scores are
often adjusted to reflect the overall total as this is ‘practical because if [one] team received
the bulk of commentary, they would also receive the lion’s share of comments in each of
the subcategories’ (Billings and Tambosi, 2004: 161). Thus, testing at a 50/50 ratio may
yield additional significant results, which might not be significant when expected scores
are adjusted to reflect the overall proportion of commentary.
Content analysis of this sport event suggests that networks continue to employ the prac-
tice of framing used in mega-events when broadcasting annual sport events. Table 2
highlights themes or frames that emerged from announcer discourse throughout the
series; themes that emerged were consistent with those found in prior studies (Scott et al.,
2009a, 2009b, 2012).
In total, there were 1315 comments, of which 778 (or 59.16%) were attributable to the
Cleveland team and 537 (or 40.84%) were for San Antonio. Table 2 shows the overall break-
down of the commentary from the 15 categories of the taxonomy. In particular, the Cleveland
Cavaliers received 60.94% of all the commentary and the majority of comments in 10 of the
15 categories. Research question one sought to uncover how the finals were framed through
the analysis of announcer commentary. This finding suggests that announcer comments
were framed to discuss the Cleveland team more than San Antonio team.
Table 2. Accounts of performance by broadcast announcers
Descriptor CLEa% SASb% Total
1 Athleticism 31 65.96 16 34.04 47
2 Appearance/looks 37 82.22 8 17.78 45
3 Background 97 53.01 86 46.99 183
4 Motivation/determination 15 42.86 20 57.14 35
5 Skill 41 39.81 62 60.19 103
6 Coaching 55 67.90 26 32.10 81
7 History 105 63.64 60 36.36 165
8 Work ethic/effort 13 46.43 15 53.57 28
9 Leadership 30 58.82 21 41.18 51
10 Mentality/composure 68 67.33 33 32.67 101
11 Creativity 11 27.50 29 72.50 40
12 Speed 17 30.91 38 69.09 55
13 Experience 27 67.50 13 32.50 40
14 Negative descriptors 81 83.51 16 16.49 97
15 Positive descriptors 150 61.48 94 38.52 244
Total 778 59.16 537 40.84 1315
aCleveland Cavaliers.
bSan Antonio Spurs.
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Scott et al. 737
Table 3 displays the non-parametric chi-square results and to which team each signi-
fication association was significant. In regards to the specific endeavours of this study,
research question two sought to uncover whether bias may exist in announcer discourse
between the two teams competing. As the majority of comments were towards the
Cleveland Cavaliers, data suggest broadcasts appeared to be framed to promote the
Cavaliers throughout the series.
More specifically, the investigation into the framing of the 2007 NBA finals, which
used the overall commentary percentages (40.84% for San Antonio and 59.16% for
Cleveland) as the expected scores, generated five significant results. At these expected
scores, appearance, skill, creativity, speed and negative descriptors were all significant,
as outlined in Table 3. Appearance and negative descriptors were significant towards the
Cleveland Cavaliers, whereas comments regarding skill, creativity and speed favoured
the San Antonio team.
Research question three investigated whether a themed discourse emerged in rela-
tion to either team. Results indicated that the San Antonio team was characterized as
more creative, skilful and quicker than its opposition. During the finals series, com-
mentator Mark Jackson focused on the speed of San Antonio players. For example he
stated, ‘The guy [Tony Parker] can get anywhere he wants on the floor because of his
speed. When he developed the outside shot, he became unguardable (sic)’ (7 June
2007). Jackson also commented on the skill of San Antonio players: ‘You said mak-
ing (sic) it look easy. Well it is easy. That’s Tim Duncan, the best power forward to
ever play the game’ (10 June 2007). Lastly, Mark Jackson discussed Tony Parker’s
creativity when Parker passed the ball to a teammate after bouncing the ball between
the legs of the defender, ‘Tony Parker, between the legs, that’s soccer baby’ (10 June
On the other hand, Cleveland was characterized by announcers more negatively. An
example of negative commentary was discussed by Mike Breen, who stated: ‘Bad pass
(LeBron James) deflected off the ring. And a turnover, that’s the 6th for Cleveland’ (7
June 2007). Thus, results of this study found that each team was themed through announc-
ers in two distinct ways: San Antonio as more skilful, while Cleveland was characterized
in negative terms.
Table 3. Significant chi-square results
Descriptor Significant toward χ2
Appearance X (df = 1, N = 45) = 8.563, p < 0.003
Skill X (df = 1, N = 103) = 19.327, p < 0.001
Creativity X (df = 1, N = 40) = 16.595, p < 0.001
Speed X (df = 1, N = 55) = 18.168, p < 0.001
Negative descriptors X (df = 1, N = 97) = 20.750, p < 0.001
aCleveland Cavaliers.
bSan Antonio Spurs.
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738 International Review for the Sociology of Sport 49(6)
Framing of sport broadcasts by networks is not limited to mega-events. Networks con-
tinue to employ the use of framing within telecasts of annual domestic sport events to
capture, build and maintain audiences. Thus, framing is a typical practice of networks
used during sport broadcasts.
Unlike the live sport performances that are broadcast, commentary that supports this
live theatre appears to be a deliberately planned set of scripts designed to engage with
viewers’ recognition and recall of their belief set. The disparity between spontaneous
sport performances and controlled commentary highlights a key aspect of live commen-
tary that is not to describe what can be seen by the viewer but instead provide entertain-
ing dialogue that supports the belief sets of viewers.
The Cleveland team was found to be described by commentators on themes of appear-
ance and negative descriptors, while San Antonio was characterized as more skilled,
creative and quicker (speed). The contra description of negative descriptors for Cleveland
and skill for San Antonio was due to the success of San Antonio by winning each of the
games and hence being equated as more skilful. As Cleveland lost all four matches, they
were labelled with negative descriptors. Further, both speed and creativity would also be
associated with a winning team thus being more proficient, scoring more points and win-
ning more games, whereas being the losing team, Cleveland received more announcer
comments on their mistakes, which led to them being characterized more negatively.
Therefore, commentary was framed in terms of supporting viewer belief sets surround-
ing winning and losing performances.
Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers were portrayed negatively and were the losing
team, they attracted the greatest quantity of commentary compared to their winning
opponents. The over-abundance of comments to the Cleveland team may be explained
by a potential ABC directorial edict to feature the Cavaliers more as they had a more
marketable star: LeBron James. In his article on the NBA finals, McCallum (2007) com-
mented that the NBA had entered the LeBron era. Furthermore, McCallum noted that the
NBA had not had such a marketable player in the finals since Michael Jordan.
Thus, the bias toward the Cavaliers may not be linked with their performance; rather
it was linked with the marketing aims of the ABC and presumably the NBA, as they had
a superstar in LeBron James who could assist them. In addition, the framing function of
television broadcasts can be shaped by the media ‘if one of the teams is viewed to be the
superior or “superstar” team’ (Billings and Tambosi, 2004: 157). Coupled with
McCallum’s (2007) comments, data suggest that the framing of this series may have
been biased to include more comments about Cleveland due to the Cavaliers’ marketabil-
ity as the team with a superstar player.
By focusing on James within commentary, the ABC network may have been relying
on the halo effect of such a well-known superstar to attract television audiences whether
they supported Cleveland or not. Through enhancing an individual’s involvement with a
sport property, such as a league, team or player (Hunt et al., 1999), a schema can be
formed that incorporates memories, fandom and passion for sport within the minds of
audiences. This then builds an attachment with a sport property, enhancing other schema.
For example, an individual is a fan of the NBA and this individual sees LeBron James
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Scott et al. 739
playing, who is regarded as a high performer and superstar within NBA. Through one’s
attachment to the NBA and seeing James, it is possible that an attachment to James and/
or his team will follow whether they are a fan of Cleveland or not, thus building an audi-
ence and attracting them to continue to watch the finals series.
Use of descriptors within commentary was found to aid the framing process by
allowing producers, scriptwriters and commentators to emphasize aspects of storylines
or narratives. A key characterization of framing is that of emphasis (Gitlin, 1980) as it
allows discussion to occur, which is an important element in fostering the interest and
meaningful discourse needed to attract audiences. Thus, use of descriptors provided
emphasis to assist in the framing process and supports similar findings by Chalip
(1992), Hall (1973) and Billings and Angelini (2007) on development of frames by
In their study on ice hockey fans, Fisher and Wakefield (1998: 34–35) found that
‘being psychologically linked to a winning team enables fans to be connected to the sport
they love and to be associated with a winner’. Even though Cleveland was not winning,
commentary focused on the ‘winning’-type performances of the player, supporting his
superstar status. Therefore, the promotion of James through additional comments may
have been an attempt by the ABC to link casual viewers with a successful and marketable
athlete to gain additional viewers not only for the current series broadcast, but also for
future telecasts of the NBA, particularly when James is playing. Further, commentary
about a successful player may increase the ratings of those games, which may increase
the advertising and sponsorship dollars for NBA games telecast on the ABC.
Inclusion of polysemic structures (multiple stories with multiple storylines) within
broadcast commentary has been found to increase viewership and loyalty to a media
company (Chalip, 1992; Chalip et al., 2000). Thus, including a wide range of different
stories is good business practice for sport media companies seeking to capitalize on the
investment in sport broadcasts, as it attracts greater audiences. The ABC throughout the
NBA finals series provided a varied discourse to ensure that its broadcast was salient to
a large number of viewers. It is insufficient to cater a telecast to only fans; casual viewers
are desired to increase viewer numbers, which can enhance advertising and sponsorship
It appears that differences in commentary between two teams in an intra-country or
nations in an inter-country sports event (in the case of a sporting world cup or the
Olympic Games) is not unusual, as the media embed discourse into the broadcast that
will generate large numbers of viewers. Thus, there is a distinct selection by the media as
to what is shown and spoken on television. This study found support for prior studies that
revealed the deliberate practice of framing. For example, Silk (1999) found, in an analy-
sis of the 1995 CCS, that the Canadian broadcaster TSN selected and embedded a dis-
tinct discourse featuring stories about Canada. Even during games in which the Canadian
team did not play, Canadian content was inserted into the coverage to ensure that the
games had meaning to Canadian viewers.
Furthermore, this study found comparable results to that of Billings and Tambosi’s
(2004) study on the American broadcaster’s portrayals of the Brazilian and American
national football/soccer teams during the 2002 football World Cup. Their study found
that the American team had nearly twice as many comments than the Brazilian team,
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740 International Review for the Sociology of Sport 49(6)
which was surprising as Brazil won the World Cup. The over-representation of one par-
ticipant or nation during a media event led Billings and Tambosi (2004: 164) to comment
that ‘the game being played is not always the game that is described on network televi-
sion’. This quote has salience for this study as the losing team the Cleveland Cavaliers
received the bulk of the commentary, indicating announcer bias to one of the participat-
ing teams. The biased portrayal of a losing sport entity has import for sport marketers, as
the valuation of sponsorships and advertising may increase when a popular team is fea-
tured on television, rather than when a successful team receives airtime.
It has been suggested that the media that is used daily by society has never been more
‘personalized, individualized, and made pleasurable to use’ (Booth, 2010: 2). Booth
(2010) furthered the discussion on current media offerings by suggesting that users are
‘actively engaged’ and simultaneously both producing and creating meaning during their
use. Online gaming, Internet Mediated Communities (IMCs), and social networking
websites (SNSs) have all contributed to Internet users being able to foster discussion and
create meaning in ways that were not possible five years ago when the 2007 NBA finals
were telecasted. Moreover, Mahan and McDaniel (2006) also suggest that the media is
always changing due to improvements in information technology production capabilities
and economic factors. In commercial television, a prime goal is to create programming
that the audience will watch in order to commodify and on-sell viewers to advertisers and
sponsors: to create profit and share value.
As of 2012, developments that may alter the relationship between sport and the media
include the advent of the World Wide Web, the proliferation of information workers
(Bryant and Holt, 2006) and the expansion of SNSs. The Internet affords both consumers
and organizations new opportunities for interaction with and personalization of media
content (Mahan and McDaniel, 2006). The Internet has transformed the ways in which
media companies, sports organizations, athletes and consumers interact. Historically, the
media acted as a gatekeeper, while the Internet provided a new medium through which
sport organizations and athletes could produce and disseminate information while
bypassing the traditional boundaries of programming, formatting, audience interest and
contractual agreements (Mahan and McDaniel, 2006).
Until the advent and proliferation of the Internet, communication between sport
organizations were typically one way, disconnecting the consumers from sport and
media entities due to the gatekeeping role of the media (Arsenault and Castells, 2008;
Mahan and McDaniel, 2006). Thus, the Internet provides an outlet for sports organiza-
tions and athletes to bypass the media to produce and disseminate an unfiltered message
to consumers. For example, NBA player LeBron James is able to leverage his celebrity
appeal through his website (, which enables him produce
media content, such as personal stories and behind-the-scenes information, and feature
links to brands that an athlete endorses, such James’ endorsement of Nike (Mahan and
McDaniel, 2006).
The recent advent of SNSs also provided a new interactive platform for communica-
tion and continuous accessibility between the consumer and sport product (Meân et al.,
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Scott et al. 741
2010). The concept of SNSs has existed for many years. These sites now attract millions
of users (Boyd and Ellison, 2007) and are often used as a form of social activity
(Bumgarner, 2007). A common element among most SNSs is the creation and mainte-
nance of social networks (Boyd, 2006; Boyd and Ellison, 2007; Bumgarner, 2007).
Boyd (2006) noted that friendships or commonalities enable a community to form.
In addition to the increased sociability that the Internet and SNSs provide users, the
Internet has also enabled (sport) consumers to find limitless information that would
have previously been unavailable (Mahan and McDaniel, 2006). IMCs enable consum-
ers to post and reply to messages. IMCs include chat rooms and message boards
(Mahan and McDaniel, 2006) and are defined as ‘groups of people who share interests
and, during some time, make use of the same Internet tools to exchange information
with each other regarding shared interests’ (Bellini and Vargas, 2003: 5). Mahan and
McDaniel (2006) also noted that IMCs promote participatory prospects for fans in
ways that traditional media cannot. For example, radio call-in shows were once popu-
lar to enable fans to have a voice about popular culture topics, but this media was
limited by geography, show length, format and announcer and/or producer vetting
(Mahan and McDaniel, 2006). In contrast to radio call-in shows, the Internet has pro-
vided consumers with a medium with which these and other limitations can be
As this study analysed the framing of a MediaSport event before the proliferation of
SNSs, future studies are warranted to uncover how the framing of sporting events can
change based on viewer feedback via such media as Twitter and Facebook. Further,
Booth’s (2010) notion that media users are more engaged in media content than ever
before due to SNSs has salience for the future direction of MediaSport analyses, as
SNS users concurrently both consume and produce media content, which mainstream
media outlets can view and then possibly alter their framing practices based on viewer
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or
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... As per Bruce (2004), the fans demonstrate an emotional reaction while watching sports on television which is mainly dependent on the strength of identification with star players of a team. Even in cases where team is losing a match, the star players are able to attract the attention of fans and media (Scott et al., 2014). Also, the presence of a superstar in the team would encourage media to frame the televised broadcast around the stardom (Scott et al., 2014) to grab more sponsorship opportunities. ...
... Even in cases where team is losing a match, the star players are able to attract the attention of fans and media (Scott et al., 2014). Also, the presence of a superstar in the team would encourage media to frame the televised broadcast around the stardom (Scott et al., 2014) to grab more sponsorship opportunities. As per Kerr and Gladden (2008), star players can assume the roles of a foreign ambassador in representing the home country, a magician in creating wonders and a brand icon with global fame to uplift the foreign brand equity of the team. ...
... This would be of interest to sports marketers and media where they can use nationalistic themes while broadcasting matches (Scott et al., 2012). Engaging with viewers through pre-planned televised sports commentary aligned to viewers' existing beliefs (Scott et al., 2014) and motivations can support sports marketers to expand their customer base. ...
Full-text available
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of patriotism, nostalgia, drama and excitement of the game, and interest in star players to predict fans’ intentions to follow one-day cricket in near future. Furthermore, social influence is positioned as a moderator to enrich the understanding of fans’ motives to follow one-day cricket. Design/methodology/approach The data are collected by means of a cross-sectional survey conducted among 609 university students enroled in Pakistani and Sri Lankan universities. The collected data are analysed by employing a structural equation modelling procedures to reach meaningful conclusions. Findings The variables of patriotism, nostalgic associations, excitement and drama of the game, and interest in star players are found to positively relate to the fans’ intentions to follow one-day cricket in near future. However, the moderating effects of social influence only moderated with interest in star players, which has practical and theoretical implications. Originality/value The study is an original contribution to the field of sports marketing. The proposed relationships are based on social identity theory paradigm. Furthermore, the moderating effects of social influence and a multi-country data are unique to this study. Finally, in previous studies, football fans’ motivation and test-match cricket fans’ motivations are studied, hence one-day cricket as a context is also unique to this study.
... With the pervasiveness of digital media, sport journalists face unprecedented challenges and pressures when it comes to media reporting (Li, Stokowski, Dittmore, & Scott, 2017). On social media, traditional media outlets have less control over the distribution and gatekeeping of the information, so it is easier for readers to obtain false and fabricated information (Nielsen & Graves, 2017;Scott, Hill, & Zakus, 2014). For media customers, traditional news organizations are no longer the only news sources from which consumers can gain knowledge. ...
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This commentary analyzes how misinformation related to a coronavirus case of a star soccer player (i.e., Wu Lei) was spread widely on Chinese digital media and accepted by sports fans as the truth. The paper first examines the mechanisms by exploring how misinformation emerged and was disseminated. Then, the paper explores how social media and the fast-growing self-media in China exacerbate tendencies toward misinformation during the news production process, which poses a new threat to legacy media and journalists’ profession. The paper concludes by discussing new challenges faced by Chinese sports journalists in the new digital era after COVID-19.
... This theme covers studies arguing that various kinds of (in-game) creativity increase the likelihood of winning matches by surprising the opponents, making it difficult for opponents to predict what comes next, unbalancing the opponents' tactics, creating favourable situations, fabricating scoring opportunities, and scoring most goals or points (Bjurwill, 1993;Castañer et al., 2016;Coutinho et al., 2018;Duarte et al., 2012;Duricek, 1992;Gama, Couceiro, Dias, & Vaz, 2015;Lacerda & Mumford, 2010;Leso et al., 2017;Lucifora & Simmons, 2003;J. P. Mills, Ing, Markham, & Guppy, 2018;Rubin, 2014;Scott, Hill, & Zakus, 2014;Vestberg, Gustafson, Maurex, Ingvar, & Petrovic, 2012;Wiemeyer, 2003). These scholars only link creativity with the offensive parts of the game. ...
The meaning of creativity is indeed the single most perplexing issue within creativity research, with approaches spanning from personal experiences of insight to revolutionary creations with historic impact. Posing this question in competitive sport does not reduce the complexity of creativity. This PhD thesis traces out the field of creativity studies in sport, which covers a smorgasbord of ideas about creativity, with diverse practical consequences for sport participants. In this growing field, the meaning of creativity ranges from the aesthetical quality of novel game solutions to a capacity of talents to solve problems in their everyday life. Besides displaying performance- and result-oriented ideas concerning the role of creativity in sport, predominant research in the field is absorbed in defining, measuring and developing creativity as an outcome of distinct kind of sport participation rather than an integral part of it. Nuancing the dialogue regarding the meaning, value and application of creativity among sport researchers and practitioners, this PhD thesis challenges the narrow, but predominant, idea that creativity is an in-game phenomenon, reserved for the best offensive, match-decisive players on a team, who are able to deke opponents, and produce chances. Available at:
... The interest and consumption of sport differ from many other industries as the sporting experience is impacted by many factors. For example, television viewers are impacted by both the discourse of announcers (Billings and Eastman, 2003;Billings and Tambosi, 2004;Scott et al., 2012Scott et al., , 2014 and attendees at the venue (Borland and MacDonald, 2003). To date, much of the scholarship in the demand of sport economics has focused on game attendance and television viewership (Alavy et al., 2010;Feddersen and Rott, 2011;Borland and MacDonald, 2003). ...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine how Olympic audiences utilized Twitter to follow American National Governing Bodies (NGBs) during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Design/methodology/approach Guided by economic demand theory, the researchers sought to explore whether factors such as the content of social media messages, athlete’s performance, event presentation, scheduling, and TV broadcasting contribute to enhancing fans’ interests in following NGBs on Twitter during the Olympic Games. In total, 33 American NGB Twitter accounts formed the data set for this study. Each of NGBs’ Twitter data was collected every night at midnight from August 7 to 23, 2016. Data collected from each NGB account included number of followers, number of accounts followed, number of tweets, and number of “likes.” Findings Results of this study revealed that team’s performance and the number of tweets had direct and positive relationships with increasing the number of NGB’s Twitter followers on each competition day. The number of “likes,” however, had a significant negative relationship with fans’ interests in following NGBs’ Twitter. Originality/value The results of the study are expected to help Governing Bodies in the Olympic sports have a better understanding of fans’ social media usage.
... One of the prime benefits attributed to social media is that it is a powerful communication tool that facilitates interaction and enhances social relationships between athletes, sport organizations, and sport fans (Kassing & Sanderson, 2010;Scott, Hill, & Zakus, 2014). Sports fans are continuing to embrace social media to follow sport organizations and there are opportunities for sport organizations to attempt to enhance fans' team identification through social media (Meng, Stavros, & Westberg, 2015;Scott, Naylor, & Bruffy, 2016;Scott, Naylor, & Bruffy, 2017). ...
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Social media platforms provide a space where sport fans can interact directly with sport organizations; however, researchers have not empirically examined users’ motivation and usage. Guided by uses and gratifications theory, the authors explored whether social media users’ motivations differed when following a sport organization on two similar microblogging services: Twitter and Weibo. Data gathered from an online survey of users who followed the Los Angeles Lakers on both Twitter (n = 299) and Weibo (n = 796) were analyzed using the Multiple Indicators Multiple Causes model. Findings showed that Weibo users had higher motives for obtaining information, entertainment, technical knowledge, passing time, and escaping from their life than Twitter users, while Twitter followers had higher motivations to express team support than their Weibo counterparts. Results of hierarchical multiple regression analysis suggested that Weibo users had high motives in information gathering and expressing team support, and they also tended to be more interactive. Twitter users were more interested in interacting with a sport organization if their motives for obtaining entertainment information and technical information were met. Results of this study will assist sport organizations to learn to understand users’ motives for following a sports team in both China and America and then develop more effective strategies to engage these users in these two main markets.
... This inspection of hockey broadcasts revealed that every mausoleum has a silver lining, at least on television. Teams can encourage positive framing of their venues by providing eye-catching settings for broadcasters, gaining practical utility out of inevitable framing in telecasts (Scott, Hill, & Zakus, 2014). For the relatively low cost of inviting former players back to drop the puck before games, the Islanders created opportunities for nostalgic on-air commentary and broadcast interviews with team legends. ...
... While we know a lot about how American media discusses professional (Scott et al., 2014), collegiate (Cooper et al., 2009), and even high school basketball (Pedersen, 2002, and studied at least since Tannenbaum and Noah, 1959), the question of how one of the most popular sports in Europe and world-wide (Horky and Nieland, 2013) can become a vehicle of gendered nationalism in shifting post-communist countries remains unexplored. This article will thus examine the role of female athletes in the symbolic (re)production of a nation in one such country in Central Europe. ...
This study examines how newspapers in post-communist Poland nurture a gendered national identity through their disparate coverage of men’s and women’s European basketball championships. Agenda-setting, framing and social identity theories were used to analyse 502 articles published between 2009–2013. Results show that men’s tournaments received 3.5 times more coverage than women’s events; the gap further widened when Poland hosted the championships. Articles about men’s championships were also longer (314 words on average versus 161). The discourse surrounding women’s competitions was factual whereas the men’s national team’s performances were framed as challenges, matters of national pride, and involved combat and military terminology. Peculiarly, the most frequently mentioned member of the women’s team was its male coach. Findings indicate a significant departure from the communist-era promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment as a source of pride. National identity is nurtured through newspaper coverage of the men’s national team (when team colours and the first person plural are mentioned) but not of the women’s national team.
... Further, there would be many more themes exhibiting significant associations due to this discrepancy. In other words, the adjustment in expected scores is practical, because if many of the articles appeared in one or two nations' coverage of the RWC, they would, presumably, also receive the majority of articles in each of the categories (Billings and Tambosi, 2004;Scott et al., 2012Scott et al., , 2014. ...
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Research into the framing of sporting events has been extensively studied to uncover newspaper bias in the coverage of global sporting events. Through discourse, the media attempt to capture, build, and maintain audiences for the duration of sporting events through the use of multiple narratives and/or storylines. Little research has looked at the ways in which the same event is reported across different nations, and media representations of the Rugby World Cup have rarely featured in discussions of the framing of sport events. The present study highlights the different ways in which rugby union is portrayed across the three leading Southern Hemisphere nations in the sport. It also shows the prominence of nationalistic discourse across those nations and importance of self-categorizations in newspaper narratives. Full article available here:
... This inspection of hockey broadcasts revealed that every mausoleum has a silver lining, at least on television. Teams can encourage positive framing of their venues by providing eye-catching settings for broadcasters, gaining practical utility out of inevitable framing in telecasts (Scott, Hill, & Zakus, 2014). For the relatively low cost of inviting former players back to drop the puck before games, the Islanders created opportunities for nostalgic on-air commentary and broadcast interviews with team legends. ...
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This article uses a case-study approach to develop an understanding of how framing on game telecasts can increase the brand equity of sports venues. In 2014, ESPN ranked the NHL’s New York Islanders last in “stadium experience” among all 122 teams in the 4 major North American sports leagues. Given the Islanders’ looming relocation, the 2014–15 NHL season afforded the last opportunity to consider how telecasts would portray the team’s arena, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island. Based on a textual analysis of Islanders telecasts, 2 frames emerged: atmosphere (loud cheering and tributes to veterans) and nostalgia (famous moments and players from the arena’s history). Teams that play in poorly regarded venues can encourage broadcasters to employ frames such as atmosphere and nostalgia to increase attendance and sales of venue-related merchandise.
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The higher education sector increasingly uses social media as an educational tool to develop a sense of community and foster student engagement, particularly as social networking sites have become an integral part of the lives of digital natives. The current study sought to explore whether the use of Twitter could foster student engagement in a sport marketing course, speciically by embedding Twitter through two assessments, online lectures and weekly tasks. Mean score comparisons indicated that over a 13-week semester, students (N = 68) felt more engaged and included in the course because it had Twitter, found Twitter to be relatively easy to use, and the use of social media aligned with course objectives. The results of the current study have salience in sport management education, because the effective use of Twitter within a higher education context demonstrates how the use of social media can foster engagement with course materials.
This article examines television’s portrayal of female athletes during the 1992 winter Games. Although women are depicted in physically challenging events that defy stereotypical notions of femininity, such as mogul skiing, luge, and the biathlon, rhetorical analysis suggests that the sports media reinforce a masculine sports hegemony through strategies of marginalization. These include the application of condescending descriptors, the use of compensatory rhetoric, the construction of female athletes according to an adolescent ideal, and the presentation of female athletes as driven by cooperation rather than competition.
Conference Paper
Durkheim's discussion on ritual and Goffman's theoretical work on first impressions are used to predict superior performance among home teams on opening day. Information on opening day game outcomes is compiled and compared with the results of regular season and championship play. The analysis reveals a greater home advantage for teams playing in opening day games than for home teams competing in regular season or championship games. When controlling far the effect of stadium attendance on the home advantage, the opening day home advantage exceeds that of championship competition. The results suggest that ritual activity and concerns for first impression management may be factors that condition home team performance, offering support for the assertion that performance is partly a social product. Further home advantage research can direct attention to cross-cultural differences in the opening day home advantage and focus on qualitative data collection to supplement the current abundance of archival data.
This paper presents an ethnographic study of the Canadian Television Network's (CTV) production of the 1988 Winter Olympic ice-hockey tournament. Interview data and media documents are analyzed to uncover how CTV strategically employed hockey as a spectacle of accumulation to boost ratings, expand market positioning, and to attract sponsors while blocking media competitors. At another level of understanding, ethnographic observations of the televisual labor process provide insights into how Olympic broadcasting constitutes a form of mediated communication or a spectacle of legitimation. Observations illustrate how the crew remade the live sporting event into a series of select cultural images. The manufacturing of Olympic images is revealed to be a social process that reproduces select systems of meaning, reinforces particular modes of media production, and strengthens monopolistic network relationships.
In an ongoing effort to "police the crisis" (see Denzin, 2004a and b; Denzin & Lincoln, 2003) and critically interrogate the tyrannical (govern)mentality of conservative rhetoric centered on a peculiar or juridical concept of "right" (Baudrillard, 2001; Johnson, 2002; McClaren, 2002) under the agenda of "9/11 America," this article explores the official moral pedagogies of the sporting media. Through analysis of the media representations of two major sporting events that took place in the first week of February, 2002 - the delayed Super Bowl and the opening of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics - the article focuses on the place of sport as an economy of affect through which power, privilege, politics, and position are (re)produced. The "epistemic panic" (Gordon, 1997; Ladson-Billings, 2000) played out through these two events can be read as part of the wider self-examining, self-referential, existential narrative of the American nation in the wake of the ontological, social, and historical disruption (Giroux, 2002) wrought by 9/11 - a politicized and militaristic rhetoric appropriated within, and mobilized through, the affective realm of the sporting popular.
The relationship between the media sports fan and the sporting event closely parallels the position of the ritual participant acting out a mythic celebration. Such identification between the viewer/participant and the event has been characterized as “deep play” by Geertz (1973). However, this fan experience in the modem era is shaped not just by human face-to-face interaction, as was Geertz’s famous Balinese cockfight; instead, a specific media technology and commercial advertising provide the structure through which the public accesses media sports. This study examines grounded data on audience size and composition, advertising, commercial infrastructure and incentives, and other institutional aspects of the political economy of mass-mediated sport. What do cultural and ritual theory contribute to our understanding of the mass-mediated sports experience of today’s “deep fan”?
Located in the United States, NBC (National Broadcasting Company) is the biggest and most powerful Olympic network in the world, having won the rights to televise both the Summer and the Winter Olympic Games. By way of attracting more viewers of both sexes and all ages and ethnicities than any other sporting event, and through the production of breathtaking spectacles and absorbing stories, NBC's Olympic telecasts have huge power and potential to shape viewer perceptions. Billings's unique text examines the production, content, and potential effects of NBC's Olympic telecasts. Interviews with key NBC Olympic producers and sportscasters (including NBC Universal Sports and Olympics President Dick Ebersol and primetime anchor Bob Costas) outline the inner workings of the NBC Olympic machine; content analyses from ten years of Olympic telecasts (1996-2006) examine the portrayal of nationality, gender, and ethnicity within NBC's telecast; and survey analyses interrogate the extent to which NBC's storytelling process affects viewer beliefs about identity issues. This mixed-method approach offers valuable insights into what Billings portrays as "the biggest show on television".