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Using Communication Boundaries to Minimize Athlete Social Media Distractions During Events

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Sport organizations regulate athletes’ use of social media for many reasons including the protection of the organization’s reputation. Several strategies have been introduced to minimize issues related to the negative consequences athlete social media use may present, yet whether these strategies also work to address social media distractions experienced by athletes during major sport events is not well known. Utilizing communication privacy management (CPM) theory, the purpose of the current research was to examine the aspects of social media that sport administrators perceive to be distracting to athletes and what support and management mechanisms are utilized to address such concerns during major sport events. Semi-structured interviews (N = 7) with Australian national sport organizations (NSOs) administrators were conducted. Sport administrators reported several aspects of social media that are perceived to distract athletes including personal and performance criticism and a fixation with social media profiles. Social media could also be used to manage athlete temperament. As a result, organizations highlighted both proactive and reactive communication boundaries and mechanisms that could be used to address concerns including content restrictions, best practice case studies, engaging in conversations, and monitoring. Opportunities for sport practitioners are described including conducting consultation sessions with athletes to better understand their needs regarding their social media use.

Keywords: communication privacy management; distractions; major sport events; national sport organizations; social media

Affiliations: 1: Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management, Griffith University, Nathan QLD Australia 2: Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management, Griffith University, Southport QLD Australia 3: Institute for Sport Business, Loughborough University London, United Kingdom

Appeared or available online: February 24, 2021

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