Thin Line (Court): Twitter reveals football fans’ love-hate stance on rookies | Nebraska today

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It is his loss. Either way, it was never going to work. These two deserve.

Do you think losing love is a blow to the ego? Try a five-star quarterback.

Because if recruiters on Twitter are any indication, you might be better off never liking at all.

That’s one of the many takeaways from a new study co-authored by Jason Stamm of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Research details how college football fans try to woo top-notch rookies on Twitter – and how those fans react when rookies pledge to give their program a chance or crush any hope of a long-term relationship .

The college football fandom has long been recognized as a reflection and amplification of a larger social identity. Previous studies, for example, have shown that students wear their team’s clothing more often after a win than a loss. Other clichés of the fickle fan – when the team wins it’s ‘us’, when the team loses it’s ‘they’ – are also supported by research.

But social media has given fans unprecedented access and visions of grandeur regarding the plight of the vaunted high school athletes who frequently document their recruiting process there, Stamm said.

“They put it all on Twitter – when they have a top 10 (list of schools), a top 3, when they’re going to visit somewhere,” said Stamm, an assistant professor of sports media and communications in Nebraska and long-time writer. date for the recruiting site. Rivaux.com. “And they get this long line of responses, for everything they do, from random fans.”

In these tweets, Brandon Boatwright of Stamm and Clemson University saw an opportunity to better understand the psyche of the hip and very online college football fan.

“We knew there was a lot of social identity involved in why fans would do this, what they would take away from it,” Stamm said.

The duo took on the task of analyzing 8,160 tweets composed by fans who tagged at least one of the five top football rookies in the two months before their engagements and the two days after. (These recruits would eventually commit to LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Oregon and Texas A M, respectively.)

Researchers began by codifying the ways in which Twitter users attempted to recruit on behalf of their schools. In many cases, they were basically just pleading for the rookie to commit: begging, flattering themselves, predicting big things if the rookie made the right choice. Other times, fans have named current or past star players of their programs, coaches, celebrity fans – sometimes tagging them too – in an attempt to persuade a rookie.

Some Twitter users took the opportunity to disparage fans of other programs who tweeted about a recruit. Sometimes a fan – out of desperation or perhaps in an attempt at reverse psychology – would concede that their school was unlucky. A small percentage trolled the rookies, preying on their supposed narcissism or lack of talent.

But, as Stamm said, “you can really see the real fan” when the verdict falls. Drawing on some fundamental research on fandom and social identity, Stamm and Boatwright filtered fan feedback through two lenses: basking in thoughtful glory, if the rookie has entered the school of a fan, or deducting a reflected failure, if the rookie chose another.

By partnering with a prominent person or organization – in this case, a top-notch recruit who enlists in a fan’s school – the fan receives an indirect boost in their sense of self, according to the pilgrim frame.

“Basking in thoughtful glory is basically a confirmation of my fandom,” Stamm said. “We’re good enough for this rookie I wanted for so long. I can’t wait for the season to start.

This licking took many forms on Twitter. Fans have often touted their affiliation with the program and touted the engagement as a group accomplishment. They fantasized about the future of the program, projecting success for both the commit and the team. They boasted of the program’s ability to turn an engagement into a star or elevate their personal brand. And, of course, some rejoiced, calling the decision a victory over rival programs.

As to when the decision went against their school? A substantial, perhaps surprisingly, proportion of fans have taken to the highways, Stamm said.

“I’m happy for you because I’m a good human being and always want you to be successful,” Stamm said in characterizing these reactions. “I realize that you are a kid of 17, 18 years old. I want to see you succeed.

“You have a lot of people who are aware of: they are minors. They are not yet adults, most of them. And that’s their decision; it is their life. You’re not going to please everyone, are you? You can’t go to all the schools. If I have 30 schools recruiting me, I can only choose one. I can’t go to 30.

“And then there are the others. “

These other people, Stamm said, tend to indulge in the dark side of suppressing deliberate failure. Their allegiance to the team may take insignificant precedence over a one-sided relationship that they may have cultivated for several years but ultimately saw without consideration – the hope, in a sense, of a long-standing crush. dated.

“It’s a punch in the stomach, I think, for a lot of people who are really invested in a rookie,” Stamm said.

In some cases, fans have simply lamented the loss of a potential engagement as they could be a loss on the pitch, expressing disappointment or blaming a coach for the result. But others responded by downplaying the importance of the decision: “Where it is unlikely to be developed & the garbage heap that The U is used to will end. Have a nice day, ”said one of them.

Some went further, turning around and belittling the athlete they had so coveted the day before. In these cases, hell has no fury like a despised recruiter.

“I think it’s fans who say, ‘No, you make me feel bad. It’s a bad aspect for my team, for my personal identity, my social identity, ”said Stamm. “’You are not good enough for me. Go suck somewhere else.

For Stamm, the most surprising discovery actually came from the rookies themselves: not once, given 8,160 chances, did they respond to a tweet in which they were tagged. While he expected Twitter traffic to flow mostly in one direction, Stamm didn’t expect such deafening digital silence. Yet, he said, this is not the first example of media consumers developing relationships in the absence of dialogue.

“It’s the perception that a person has purely based on one-way communication,” he said, comparing it to the viewer watching the same room. TV news anchor for years. “I don’t communicate with you, but looking at you – seeing how you talk, how you react, your humor – I feel like I know you.”

So why the silence? Stamm isn’t sure, but he suspects it might be related to the emergence of a resemblance to a name or picture, or NIL, opportunities that came into effect this summer and that allow student-athletes to benefit from their performance.

It may well be, he said, that there is more to lose than to be gained by engaging with fans on Twitter, even those who seem to have the best of intentions. College student-athletes at many top schools are already getting tips on how to use social media. It is starting to look like top-notch high school kids are getting advice as well, Stamm said. If so, he seems to be saying: silence is golden.

“I think there is definitely a connection between the resemblance of name and image,” he said, “and the way these high school recruits behave on social media.

“They’re really trying to keep that mark, I think, intact. But we want to interview them to see exactly what they think.


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