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The 7 Top Articles on Social Media, Sport and Mental Health


As a result of extensive research, the list compiled below contains a mix of scholarly articles and videos which pertain to the impact of social media on sport in general but particularly on professional athletes in regards to brand building and social engagement through various platforms. Also within this list, are scholarly articles and a video which provide context on how social media can play a huge role in overall mental health issues. The video in particular, sheds a light on the negative impact on the mental health of professional athletes, causing anxiety and isolation. Lastly, articles within this list also identify how female professional athletes use social media and provides context on why male athletes use often differs from females athletes.

#1 It’s a Whole New Ball Game: How Social Media Is Changing Sports

This is a basic assessment on how the emergence of social media has completely changed the landscape for professional sports. From being able to connect athletes with fans, provide up-to-the-second updates and share instant analysis amongst fans, the digital landscape has been drastically changed. For the most part, it's been for the better. "Never before have fans known so much about athletes" (Sanderson, 2011). While that level of engagement can be exciting, it can also cause anxiety.

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#2 MIT Sloan Sports Analytic Conference with NBA Commissioner

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sits down with Bill Simmons to discuss how social media has isolated many professional athletes who partake in sport today. As a result, professional athletes can become consumed and obsessed with public pressures and perception of them online. Additionally, players actions both on and off the floor are magnified, scrutinized and criticized like never before causing what they describe as "24/7 anxiety" and negatively impacting their mental health. Silver highlights how social media has isolated athletes and plays a direct role in poor mental health.

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#3 Tackling Social Media Abuse?

With the emergence of social media, English Football has seen an increase in online racism targeted towards specific clubs and individual players. This incessant online racism can have a negative impact on the athlete and are only enhanced by English Football's poor attempts to stop online racism from occurring.

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#4 Understanding Athletes’ professional use of Twitter

This article provides an analysis of professional athletes' communication methods through social media, specifically how athletes use Twitter to communicate with fans and other players. It also looked at what encouraged athletes to respond and engage through the social media application. Additionally, it showed what percentage of athletes use social media for promotional or brand-building purposes.

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#5 Social Media in Relationship Marketing

This study takes a closer look at social media as it regards to relationship marketing. It highlights the perspective of various marketing managers within MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL to see what sort of professional athlete engagement fans identify with best.

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#6 Relationship Promotion by Professional Athletes on Twitter

This study took a closer look at how professional athletes engaged through the use of social media, especially Twitter. It explored who the athletes engaged with and what sort of content the athlete provided to better understand why the athlete engaged with specific types of content. It also looked to examine if the relationship building was promoted parasocial or social relationships. Athlete engagement could be purely to build an image or brand, or adversely could be to form relationships and engage with their social communities or could even be a bit of both. How athletes use social media can be both strategic and genuine.

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#7 How Female Pro Athletes Use Twitter vs. Pro Male counterpart

Social media has had a "profound impact on sport" (Pegoraro, 2010, p. 501) mainly because of its ability to bring together fans and professional athletes. This study identifies how female professional athletes use the social media app Twitter and how that differentiates from male progressional athletes. Females are traditionally unrepresented in traditional media. Social media gives the female professional athlete the platform to be expressive and showcase her own personality. However, that can sometimes cause increased pressure to create and maintain a certain image.

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