Shaina Dabbs, Claire Latimer ’22 examine gender disparity and the marketing of basketball programs

The associate professor of sport management and Elon alumna co-wrote “Jumping Through Hoops: Differences in Marketing Men’s and Women’s Basketball on Twitter,” an article recently published in the Journal of Contemporary Athletics.

For nearly three years, Shaina Dabbs, associate professor of sport management, and Claire Latimer ’22 collaborated on a research project investigating gender disparity in the media, specifically on social media platforms. Their collective efforts came to fruition last month when they co-published “Jumping Through Hoops: Differences in Marketing Men’s and Women’s Basketball on Twitter” in the Journal of Contemporary Athletics, a peer-reviewed journal that examines all levels of athletics – interscholastic, intercollegiate, club and professional.

Associate Professor Shaina Dabbs (left) presented Claire Latimer ’22 with the Major of the Year Award during the Sport Management Department’s end-of-the-year banquet in May 2022. Dabbs and Latimer were frequent collaborators during the Elon alumna’s time on campus.

For Dabbs, it was the culmination of an incredible mentor-mentee relationship that transitioned into a true friendship.

“I truly had a great experience mentoring Claire through the undergraduate research process,” Dabbs said. “As a double major in sport management and strategic communications, Claire combined those interests to investigate gender disparity in the media, specifically on Twitter. She began the initial brainstorming of her project when she took my Research Methods in Sport class where our relationship started to bloom. Over the course of three years, Claire and I met every week to advance her research, and we both were the recipients of special moments and memories that I will forever hold with me.”

Together, Dabbs and Latimer examined Twitter’s extensive reach among college sports fans, and how college athletic departments utilize the platform to share real-time game information, forge fan connections, and market its brand. The researchers conducted a content/document analysis to investigate how a mid-major collegiate athletic department uses Twitter to market their basketball teams and the representation gap between the men’s and women’s basketball programs. Tweets were collected from the men’s and women’s basketball programs, as well as the athletic department’s Twitter pages, during a single season. The tweets were then coded by themes for their marketing purposes.

The results found that 16% of the men’s program’s tweets were retweeted by the athletic department compared to just .09% of tweets from the women’s program.

“Claire showed resiliency and commitment during the undergraduate research process and is now a better leader and critical thinker because of it,” Dabbs said. “Her experience working with Elon Athletics and leading the Women Influencers in Sport (WINS) program enhanced her knowledge and connection to the research. I am beyond proud of her and I am confident this undergraduate research experience will help her professionally in the sport industry.”

Following graduation, Latimer landed a role as a premium experience assistant for the Tennessee Titans.

In addition to her contributions to Elon Athletics and WINS, Latimer was an active and visible member of the Elon academic community. She graduated with a 3.8 GPA and several undergraduate research projects under her belt, including a presentation at the 2021 AEJMC Southeast Colloquium and SURF Day. At the Sport Management Department’s end-of-year banquet, Latimer was presented with the 2022 Major of the Year Award.