Competent and comprehensive handbook charts the new sport media landscape

Britt-Marie Ringfjord
Institutionen för medier och journalistik, Linnéuniversitetet

Andrew C. Billings & Marie Hardin (eds.)
Routledge Handbook of Sport and New Media
374 pages, paperback.
Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge 2016 (Routledge Handbooks)
ISBN 978-1-138-69479-8

The Routledge Handbook of Sport and New Media provides a broad approach on the sport media landscape and the impact of the so-called new media technologies that influence how sport is produced, mediated and consumed. The book is divided into five sections covering areas that relate to the impact from new media. The first section introduces the foundations of sport and media research (seven chapters); in the second section, the sports media production describes the timeline from print to online sport news (four chapters); the third section covers the sport media content such as public relations (PR) in social media, online sports journalism and sport associations’ communication strategies (seven chapters); the fourth section present a palette of the new audiences demonstrating the diversity of how to be fans, co-producers, participants and consumers (seven chapters); and the final fifth section on sport and new media addresses aspects of how identities as nationality, gender, disability and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) are represented in sports. The 53 contributors to this impressive handbook are prominent scholars and PhD students, offering a nice mix of approaches.

The seven first chapters in the first section provide the reader with a good outline of how key terms and concepts generally are handled. David Rowe and Brett Hutchins set the foundation by discussing globalization processes and how to understand the concept of online audiences. In the second chapter, by Walter Gantz and Nicky Lewis, the theme is media platforms for fans to follow sports The authors develop the concepts of globalization and fanship that is represented in a case study on interactivity in social media. The following chapters give similar descriptions of core concepts covering rhetoric, political economy and the power of knowledge. Butterworth’s chapter (3) about soccer and Paul Virilio’s theory of speed through the concept of dromology is a challenging proposal to understand how moral panic and the physical speed of technology affect our mobility to communicate. These changes in the guidelines for proper social conduct in social media by soccer players, is illustrated by the Arsenal player case. Corrigan’s chapter (6) discusses sports and new media related to political economy, control and property issues. In Markula’s chapter (5) a Foucauldian approach illustrates how to examine governmentality in social media. The first section is concluded by Miah writing about the cyber sport nexus, presenting exergaming as a new concept. The carbon emissions from travelling are used as argument for saving natural resources, since cyber sports open up for more sustainable sport practice accommodating a new modern world.

Global sport organisations form synergies between sports and entertainment that sport public relations and communication management now also blend into new relationships between the sport industry, the sport media and sport associations.

The second part of this handbook covers the sport media production, discussing how new media influences professional changes in sport journalism due to technological development for content production on media platforms (ch. 8, Laucella); how to be multi skilled sport reporters covering sports in several platforms, to separate facts from rumours and stick to de demanding task of presenting sport news. To be an accountable sport news resource means to handle the flows of information in professional ways that distinguish journalism from other sport content produced by athletes, teams and fans communicating from different platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or websites (ch. 9, Pedersen). Local televised sports and Internet described from an American perspective are interesting to read about, and open up for reflections on the situation in European countries outside the Anglo-Saxon speaking world. We know that local sport television has another significance in other national or cultural contexts, as the media landscape is different (ch. 10, Schultz & Sheffer). In the chapter 11 in this section Novick and Steen present three interesting cases that illustrate how online information and communication can be used to produce news, to create news or construct sport celebrities: Cairns, a cricketer accused of match fixing; the thug, Barton, who control his own image; and The Pietersen story of how dressing room spat became public on Twitter. All cases raise the questions important in journalism: in who’s interest, who is the source, and how is this confirmed with a second source before publishing?

The third section’s first chapter on sport, public relations (PR) and social media is written by well-known sport media scholars Boyle and Haynes (ch. 12). The past to present situation is contextualized and covered, from the printed press to social media. Global sport organisations form synergies between sports and entertainment that sport public relations and communication management now also blend into new relationships between the sport industry, the sport media and sport associations. The following three chapters about brand building through online content, Facebook participation as user generated content for actor management, and sports marketing connected to sports fans, are all offering concept definitions and instructive cases to the area of sports marketing. In chapter 16, Brown, Brown and Dickhaus present the cases Tiger Wood, University of Miami, Penn State sex child abuse, and NHL’s Kansas City Chiefs and how fans can engage in sport crises by participating in conversations online.  Building on Benoit’s Image Repair Theory (IRT) and Coomb’s SCCT, the chapter present a model for strategies to control the response on crises in sports. This is followed by Formentin and Babiak in chapter 17 on how to communicate corporate social responsibility in sport organizations and the use of new media. They present a framework adopted to sport and social media, discussinghow to be accountable as professional sports organizations in relation to society and effects. In chapter 18, Watkins use three case studies built on NBA teams to illustrate identity theories related to sports branding and social media in sports. She studies consumers’ perceptions of the teams’ brand equity through Twitter and mobile apps. The result shows how sports branding theory develop understanding of social media use and the positive influence on brands. Several chapters in this section lean on the Olympic Games 2012 in London as examples on how to conceptualize and explain the shaping, marketing and branding in sports.

The conclusion suggests that fantasy sport now is a virtual culture without any limits due to location or geography, as physical barriers for participation are eliminated.

Section four takes a holistic approach to the audience with perspectives from fanship and consumption. Starting in the concept SocialMediaSports, Bowman and Cranmer, building on Sut Jhally’s Sports/Media Complex (in Wenner 1989), develop concepts for audience fanship and participation through social sport media consumption. In chapter 20, Benigni, Porter and Wood talk about the new game day, that used to be Saturdays or Sundays dedicated to a mediated experience for fans engaging in sport media consumptions. Now this is more personalized through new media platforms, combined with the preferred live and synchronous sport media consumption. The sport audiences are moving between live sports and mediated sports consumption that may lead to premium subscriptions in several platforms like cable and phones. How to stimulate sport consumption is, however, a question for further research.

Fantasy sport in focus in chapter 21. Ruihley and Hardin give an overview of the development from a niche hobby to a powerful sport industry, offering a variety of sports to the sports fans culture. The conclusion suggests that fantasy sport now is a virtual culture without any limits due to location or geography, as physical barriers for participation are eliminated. From this perspective the technology is seen as a positive resource for participation. In the same style, Sanderson and Kassing elaborate on new media and the evolution of fan-athlete interaction (ch. 22). Using para social interaction (PSI) as the concept to bring some clarity in how fans and athletes communicate across digital platforms, they raise important questions for further research. In chapter 23, Raney and Ellis discuss the enjoyment and effects of sports violence in new and old media. Compared to recent media discussions about sports fan violence and deaths related to live sporting events, this chapter open up for questioning why or what the definition of enjoyment related to sports violence really is.

Eye tracking is the topic in chapter 24 by Cummins, as an important part in understanding sport media spectatorship and new sports media interface. The final chapter in this section discusses media literacy and health literature addressing childhood obesity related to new media and exergames. Sports participation by being on the Internet can be used as a powerful tool for children by exercise games like Wii, X-box or Kinects. To motivate the participants to learn and to see through advertisements like Happy Meal (McDonalds), media literate children are able to decode commercials in more critical ways.

Sportswomen have the difficult tasks to be a badass – reclaiming the voices of being sports women – and a girly girl – to represent gender ideals of sports women as eye candy for male gaze  – at the same time.

The concluding fifth part covers perspectives on identities in the digital realm.  In chapter 26, Vincent and Kian define the national identity concept through the lens of Olympic Games and NBC coverage, leading to a discussion about the television broadcasts’ simplistic divide of the nation’s identity in relation to the changes due to ethnicity and race. Bruce and Hardin take on the topic on sports women and social media in chapter 27. Online interaction for sports women and fans are spaces that challenge the mainstream sports journalism that generally have been dominated by male sports. Sportswomen have the difficult tasks to be a badass – reclaiming the voices of being sports women – and a girly girl – to represent gender ideals of sports women as eye candy for male gaze  – at the same time. Clearly the ideologies and norms transfer into blogosphere and social media.

In the next chapter La Voi and Calhoun introduce digital media and sport media content overview as defined and controlled by men’s norms that keep the traditional power relations in order. This is an interesting discussion on digital media and how dominant gender ideologies are challenged or reproduced in blogs, Facebook or Twitter.

Chapter 29 by Meân provides a discussion of the gendered reproduction of sports on websites by choice, control and participation. Looking at the asymmetries in production values and provision, the women are framed and positioned as feminized, which leads to maintaining the gender balance on the web, in favor of men’s sports dominating at the expense of women’s. In chapter 30, Kian and Vincent examine gays and lesbians in sport media. The LGBT community and concepts connected to gender identity and sexuality are informative and interesting to read. We learn how to define gender and why it matters in sports research. This also relate to gender issues and equality rights, that is just one part of a complex system of sorting people that complicate the whys. Race, ethnicity, generation, ability and culture are others. From a Swedish perspective we recall athletes like Kajsa Bergquist, Anja Person and Anton Hysén who came out as gay/lesbians after or during their careers. In the final chapter, Lindermann and Cherney complete the identity discourse by studying the coverage of disabled athletes in new media. On the one hand the stereotypical representation transfers over to sport-oriented sites, and on the other hand new audiences find adapted sports interesting, thereby offering new ways of disability visibility. This also forms possibilities for knowledge and debates rising disability politics.

The dominance of American and British scholars in the contributors list explains the Anglo-Saxon domination that emerges in the presented perspectives on sports media and the new media landscape.

In conclusion, this handbook demonstrates the diversity and complexity of the scientific debate within academia on how to handle sport, media and communication in the evolving new media landscape. The dominance of American and British scholars in the contributors list explains the Anglo-Saxon domination that emerges in the presented perspectives on sports media and the new media landscape. These perspectives have tendencies to advocate production, marketing models, consumption and effects. The ongoing debate between the media effect school and the media participation models is a problem connected to what Livingstone (2013) calls the behavioral paradigm. However, this problem of writing to fit all perspectives is acknowledged in the introduction from the editors that urge us to read and raise more questions.

Following these suggestions, my first reflection is that this handbook shows the rapid changes in the contemporary media landscape are like fast food knowledge which is constantly renewed. For example, opportunities to mirror online broadcasts from computers to TV screens at home, that we use today when watching games together with friends, is something that has been added since 2014. In a small country like Sweden, most of the national media still dominate when it comes to sports communities, according to sports media measurements, where online platforms are now included ( In my opinion this is the case in other European countries as well, where sports media still are produced, broadcast and consumed in national contexts based on language and culture. The Anglo-Saxon dominance in the sports media complex takes place at the national levels and offers slightly different approaches to sport media cultures.

To give a complete description covering all parts of this handbook is impossible; a review can only partially give all perspectives a fair description. My approach is a media scientist’s with a gender perspective, which partly explains how the review is designed. I decided to settle for the parts I found most interesting based on my own knowledge as a media scholar.The great advantages in this handbook is the rich examples illustrating how new sport media in practice can be analyzed. The connecting thought is the Olympic Games in London 2012 that is present in several chapters, testifying to the book’s age – it was originally published as hardback in 2014. The variations of sports also give a good balance as does the great number of case studies that illustrate theory and methodology.

So, five years later, this is, as handbooks should, still a competent and functional guide to what is in fact still newmedia. For introduction courses at universities or colleges it is highly suitable for getting to know core concepts and to compare the development in the social media landscape (-s?) from past, present and future todays.

Copyright © Britt-Marie Ringfjord 2019

Jhally, Sut (1989) ‘Cultural Studies and the Sports/Media Complex’ in Wenner L.A. (ed) Media, Sports and Society pp 70-93. Newbury Park: SAGE Publications
Livingstone, Sonia (2013) The Participation Paradigm in Audience Research, The Communication Review, 16:1-2, 21-30, DOI: 10.1080/10714421.2013.757174 (2019) MMS Årsrapport 2018: 2018-01-01 – 2018-12-3: pp 17; 18; 34; 36Årsrapporter/Årsrapport%202018.pdf


Table of Content

Part I: Foundations

  1. Globalization and Online Audiences
    David Rowe & Brett Hutchins
  2. Fandom Differences between Traditional/New Media
    Walter Gantz & Nicky Lewis
  3. Social Media, Sport, and Democratic Discourse: A Rhetorical Invitation
    Michael L. Butterworth
  4. The Political Economy of Sports and New Media
    Thomas Corrigan
  5. Foucault and the New Sport Media
    Pirkko Markula
  6. Soccer and Social Media: Sport Media in the City of the Instant
    Steve Redhead
  7. The CyberSport Nexus
    Andy Miah

Part II: Sports/Media Producers

  1. The Evolution from Print to Online Platforms for Sports Journalism
    Pamela Laucella
  2. Changing Role of Sports Media Producers
    Paul M. Pedersen
  3. Local Sports TV and the Internet
    Brad Schultz & Mary Lou Sheffer
  4. Texting and Tweeting: How Social Media has Changed News Gathering
    Jed Novick & Rob Steen

Part III: The Message: Shaping, Marketing, Branding

  1. Sport, Public Relations and Social Media
    Raymond Boyle & Richard Haynes
  2. New Media and the Changing Role of Sports Information
    Erin Whiteside
  3. Social Media in the Olympic Games: Actors, Management and Participation
    Emilio Fernandez Pena, Natividad Ramajo, & Maria Arauz
  4. Sports Marketing and New Media
    Stephen Dittmore & Shannon McCarthy
  5. When Crisis Strikes the Field: The Evolution of Sports Crisis Communication Research in an Era of New Media
    Kenon A. Brown, Natalie Brown, & Josh Dickhaus
  6. Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility in Sport Organizations: Incorporating New Media
    Melanie Formentin & Kathy Babiak
  7. Social Identification and Social Media in Sports: Implications for Sport Brands
    Brandi Watkins

Part IV: Audiences: Fanship, Consumption

  1. SocialMediaSport: The Fan as a (Mediated) Participant in Spectator Sports
    Nicholas Bowman & Gregory Cranmer
  2. The New Game Day: Fan Engagement and the Marriage of Mediated and Mobile
    Vince L. Benigni, Lance V. Porter, & Chris Wood
  3. Fantasy Sport: More Than a Game
    Brody Ruihley & Rob Hardin
  4. New Media and the Evolution of Fan-Athlete Interactions
    Jimmy Sanderson & Jeffrey Kassing
  5. The Enjoyment and Possible Effects of Sports Violence in New (and Old) Media
    Arthur A. Raney & Andy Ellis
  6. Eye Tracking and Viewer Attention to Sports in New Media
    Glenn Cummins
  7. Children, Media, and Sport: The Role of New Media and Exergames in Engaging Children in Sport and Exercise
    Kimberly L. Bissell & Scott Morton

Part V: Identities in the Digital Realm

  1. Sport, New Media, and National Identity
    John Vincent & Ted Kian
  2. Reclaiming Our Voices: Sportswomen and Social Media
    Toni Bruce & Marie Hardin
  3. Digital Media and Women’s Sport: An Old View on ‘New’ Media?
    Nicole LaVoi & Austin Stair Calhoun
  4. Sport Websites, Embedded Discursive Action, and the Gendered Reproduction of Sport
    Lindsey Meân
  5. Examining Gays and Lesbians in Sport Via Traditional and New Media
    Edward M. Kian & John Vincent
  6. Communicating Legitimacy, Visibility, and Connectivity: The Functions of New Media in Adapted Sport
    Kurt Lindemann & James L. Cherney


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