Article

Applying cognitive analytic theory to understand the abuse of athletes on Twitter

Details

Citation

Meggs J & Ahmed W (2021) Applying cognitive analytic theory to understand the abuse of athletes on Twitter. Managing Sport and Leisure. https://doi.org/10.1080/23750472.2021.2004210

Abstract
Purpose/rationale: Athletes and governing bodies have raised ethical concerns related to the negative psychological effects of Twitter for professional athletes. There remained a need to systematically understand the processes involved in negative fan athlete social media interactions by categorising social media data using psychological theory. This study aimed to examine the attributional (specific or global negative comments) and contextual (sport-specific and general life context or “no context”) factors of Twitter content that were Tweeted by fans about high profile sports people. Research methods: In order to retrieve preliminary social media data to explore this phenomenon, Tweet data was collected data using Twitter’s Search API related to the top 10 highest-paid athletes (a crude initial ranking of “high profile”) as ranked by Forbes, 2018 and the data was retrieved on Friday 26th of April 2019. The search and retrieval strategy used a combination of sentiment analysis and qualitative filtering in order to isolate negative tweets directed at sports athletes. Results and findings: Preliminary findings highlighted that negative tweets directed at sports athletes can be accurately classified into three broad themes: (i) global negative projections (no context) (ii) global negative projections (sport performance context), and (iii) specific negative projections (personal context). The socio ecological theory was used as a holistic model to understand the broader processes involved in fan athlete social media interaction when considering these types of negative engagement between fans and athletes. Implications: Twitter can be used as a means for the public to direct negative projections towards athletes and our study puts forward a number of applied and research recommendations for researchers and sport management staff to educate and protect athletes from the negative consequences of “twitter abuse”.

Keywords
Twitter; high profile sports people; socio ecological theory; negative projections

Notes
Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Journal
Managing Sport and Leisure

StatusIn Press
FundersNewcastle University
Publication date online27/11/2021
Date accepted by journal05/10/2021
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/33703
PublisherInforma UK Limited
ISSN2375-0472
eISSN2375-0480

People (1)

People

Dr Wasim Ahmed
Dr Wasim Ahmed

Senior Lecturer in Digital Business, Management, Work and Organisation