You Must Be New: Becoming Fans & Communicating Values While Defining International Sport Online

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Published on March 14, 2014

Author: meghaninmotion

Source: slideshare.net

Description

Tumblr offers a unique space through which United States Women's National soccer Team (USWNT) fans affirm a collective identity, while refining (trans)national representations for a broader imagined community. Social networking sites like Tumblr allow fans to gather and share resources - opening multimodal communication across spatial and temporal boundaries. Exploring this space through ethnography and discourse analysis, this paper unpacks the ways in which fans express their beliefs; using mediated discourse and user-generated content to learn, debate, and define athletes, nationalities, sexualities, gendered behavior, and social relationships. By appealing to an interpretive community with a constantly re-articulated cultural framework, fans mark group boundaries while defining global flows of professional women's football. Finally, a discursive space is established through a combination of asynchronous communication and liveblogging; one in which processes of acculturation to technology and to the values of the fandom pin down social relationships in specific sporting moments.

Becoming Fans & Communicating Values While Defining International Sport Online Meghan Ferriter, Ph.D. Smithsonian Institution Archives

-OR- Liveblogging, Learning Moments, & Discourse Work in the USWNT Fandom on Tumblr

Completing the Media Production Process Cycle • Research Q: In what ways are fans receiving, using, (and resisting) discourses of mediated sport in this online space… • Retooling: What‟s happening here? – How do fans become (better) fans? – What kinds of activities/actions/tasks and which become rituals and responsibilities? – In what ways does the structure of Tumblr allow the fandom to achieve its goals? – How and why (and when) do they do what they DO

Tumblr • Social Networking Site (SNS) & Microblogging platform • Post Types: Text, Photo, Quote, Link, Chat, Audio, Video • Actions: Post, Reblog, Like, Tag ♯USWNT plus Ask, Anon, FanMail & Reporting

Representations & Accounts • What the USWNT fandom actually discusses and creates are representations of the USWNT, players, other fans, opponents, and other popular culture narratives. • Mediated sport discourse, as well as USWNT fandom Tumblr disourses, provide accounts – version(s) of events that speak(s) to broader social relationships, suggest understandings of sexuality, national identities, and gender, and imply relationships of power.

Developing Cultural Competencies Using a variety of representations & accounts: • “Learning” Enculturation –Observation, Excitement, Picking up cues –Doing it Wrong & Knowing it (Asking for Help) • Being “Policed” • Doing It right Discourse Work • Refining Knowledge & Practice • Connecting Monitoring • Teaching others • Monitoring: Fandom Police & Reporting

Doing Knowledge (Refining) Right • Discourse work: discourses are ways of referring to or constructing knowledge about a particular topic of practice: a cluster (or formation) of ideas, images and practices, which provide ways of talking about, forms of knowledge and conduct associated with, a particular topic, social activity or institutional site in society (Hall, 1997: 6)

Knowledge Construction & Building the Fandom • Incorporate & Display sets of “Insider Knowledge” • Insider knowledge within the USWNT fandom often relates to player histories, player sexualities, user/follower identities and preferences, and relationships of competition or power within the sporting world. • This activity reinforces, reproduces, and occasionally confronts ideologies • Additional practices that make sets of knowledge available to “imagined community” – through tagging, categorization, and open calls/announcements about content production

Built Through and Around Existing Discourses… • Family • Sacrifice – Physical and Otherwise • Nike: Great “ness” • Dominance/Prowess of team (#1) • „99ers

…Adding & Testing New Discourses • Rivalries • “Ships” • Lack of Access (to media) • Success & opportunity • The Fandom IRL (games & supporters)

Liveblogging: One (re)Match to Define Them All • 02 June 2013 – Canada vs. USA Women‟s Soccer “friendly” - BMO field, Toronto • Dubbed “The Rematch” by organizing bodies and fans alike • Recalling nationalistic & sporting memories from the 2012 Olympic Games & Semi-final game between these teams ( referred to as #EPIC)

USWNT v. CANWNT

“The Rematch” • Recalling: Olympic Semi-final 2012 – USWNT won 4-3 (ET) • Rivalry: Contrasts & Blind Eye(s) • Reactions: Both sides USWNT winning 2-0 from two goals by Alex Morgan. In the 74th minute, Canadian American Sydney Leroux subs in…

Watershed moment: 92:39” 2880 notes – 1940 reblogs, 940 likes

970 notes – 538 reblogs, 432 likes

51 notes -23 reblogs, 28 likes

Adding Fuel to the Fire • Fans – Booing, “Judas” – Chanting: “Where‟s your father?” – Counting (Re: Erin McLeod holding the ball in 2012) • Commentators for Canadian broadcasters deem Leroux‟s celebration: – “Classless” – “Way too American” – “Ugh, you can keep her”

Chat on the Tag: #USWNT • Justifications • F*ck You & Gloating (USWNT fans) • Class/Classy/Classless & Winning With Grace • Gold Medals & Goals • Peacemakers – fans of both • Using both tags – #USWNT & #CANWNT • Passive on Moment, Active in Celebration • Explanations of (experiences of) Racism • What‟s NOT okay for fans to do/say

131 notes – 56 reblogs, 75 likes

By the Numbers: Additional Data • Top 20 posts from 02-03 June – 18,844 notes of which • 11,294 Reblogs • 7,550 Likes • 13 Content Providers for Top 20 posts • 9 female, 1 male, 3 ? (no longer available/changed URL) • All of Top 20 = Photo posts; 9 are actually GIFs • Subject: • 9 related to Syd & “incident” • 4 of others & “quiet moments” • 10 game related images • 7 content providers – URL names reference USWNT or players

Findings • Enculturation – Discourse Work – Monitoring • Refining International Understandings through the lens of Sporting Competition • Sense of Community via Fandom • Access through and Value in Knowledge • Anyone is welcome, so long as you play by the rules

Implications • Many moments add up: the fandom appears to actively use and repopulate these information flows and cultural resources from which personal and group identities are derived and articulated in this digital space • Useful insights for community studies, communication studies; Marketing + Communications from official governing bodies and federations

Next Steps - - - - - - - - • What and Who is missing? (Which Discourses? Which voices?) • Melding fan experiences IRL, NWSL and USWNT resources, and Tumblr • How do fans move from newbie to fan to content provider to mastery (not necessarily linear!!) in this specific space?

Thank you!

Meghan Ferriter, Ph.D. ferriterm@si.edu (e) @MeghaninMotion (tw) http://meghaninmotion.com (w)

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