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avatar for Ann Pegoraro

Ann Pegoraro

Laurentian University
Associate Professor
Sudbury, ON
If you are interested in social media research - let's talk!

Session: Rural Sport, Context, Processes & Outcomes #2
Rural Hockey Heroes: What Happens when you Challenge the Dominant Narrative of #HumboldtStrong?
On April 6th, 2018, a bus associated with the Humboldt Broncos Junior Hockey Team crashed in rural Saskatchewan, killing 16 people. The national and international response was astounding, including a $15,000,000 GoFundMe campaign over just 12 days. Among the social media buzz, writer and activist Nora Loreto commented that the “maleness, the youthfulness and the whiteness of the victims are, of course, playing a significant role” in this uptake. Public response was swift and included over 5000 tweets, death threats, an attempted boycott, and multiple editorials. For this paper, a sample of the responses to Loreto’s tweets were gathered using Treeverse. Treeverse allows for the collection and examination of escalating Twitter conversations which are visualized as a tree with each node representing individual tweets, and lines between tweets indicating the temporal arrangement of replies (e.g., within minutes or hours from the previous tweet). Using discourse analysis, we examine the way people accepted, challenged, and resisted a critique of the philanthropic response to these rural hockey heroes and their association with an imagined national identity. By politicizing public engagement of time, sport, rurality, and nationalism, we explore the way power operates in and through discourses in digital spaces.

Session: Economic Sociology and Sport
#TakeAKnee: Exploring the role of strong and weak ties in this online movement
In September 2017, Donald Trump made a speech in Alabama in which he indicated that if NFL players continue to protest during the national anthem that team owners should fire those ‘sons of bitches’. Two days later he followed up with a barrage of tweets that re-iterated his position on “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect....our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”  This sparked outrage and a wave of protests in the NFL. Individuals on both sides of the issue took to social media to express their thoughts, many of which using the hashtag #takeaknee. Granovetter (1978, 1983) in his seminal work on network ties illustrated how ideas cannot spread through networks without weak ties within groups. Social media platforms are essentially built this theory of weak ties as the way to move content. This research will investigate the presence of strong and weak ties in the #takeaknee community to explore how the different sides of the debate spread.