Professional Athletes and Twitter: More Uses and Grats

Assignment: Find an additional academic journal article on social media (you can choose a particular network or site) uses and gratifications to briefly summarize in your journal blog.

Understanding Professional Athletes’ Use of Twitter

This weeks’ reading highlighted age, social class, gender-related and cultural implications of uses and gratifications pertaining to social media.  I found an academic article that added another fold to the layers–professional athletes’ use of Twitter.

Not surprisingly, I’m not much of a sports fan. But finding myself suddenly intrigued to such an extent by uses and gratifications pertaining to social media, this 2010 article by Hambrick, Simmons, Greenhalgh and Greenwell showcasing a content analysis of Twitter use by professional athletes was compelling reading.

The authors conducted a study to see how sports communication in general and particularly that of athletes themselves might be evolving via Twitter, when professional athletics has traditionally been a hearty user of media to communicate with its publics.  Essentially, the authors found that Twitter use has veritably changed the nature of this communication and demonstrates itself in six specific topic areas:

  • Diversion: pertaining to non-sports-related information provided by the athletes themselves on topics such as family, movies and restaurants
  • Interaction: involving direct communication between fellow athletes and with their fans
  • Information sharing: providing insight into the teams or sport in general and often pertaining to practice/training
  • Content: provided pictures, videos or blogging
  • Fanship: divulging opinions or observations on the athletes’ own sports likes
  • Promotional: involving discussion or perpetration of sponsorships, games, events and giveaways

The Tweets for the content analysis were drawn from sportsin140.com, a website devoted to identifying verified athlete Twitter accounts. The authors wrote, “rather than sanitized, impersonal communications about the latest game filtered through a team’s public relations department, professional athletes tweets tend to be more direct and address topics beyond sport.” This humanizes the athletes and, to some extent, allows fans to enjoy a more accessible and interpersonal relationship with them.  Much like what others have discussed about Twitter use in the black community, the authors found that  professional athletes likewise largely use Twitter to communicate directly, whether it was from athlete-to-athlete or from athlete-to-fan in an unfiltered and personalized manner rather than in the more publicly communicative sense typically associated with general Twitter use.

 

 

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