Steph Doehler of #TeamOUSport has recently had a paper published which focuses on the public perception of athlete mental health. The paper titled, ‘Role Model or Quitter? Social Media’s Response to Simone Biles at Tokyo 2020’ has been published in the International Journal of Sport Communication.
The study looks at the Facebook narrative surrounding Simone Biles’ withdrawal from several gymnastics events at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Over 87,000 user comments were collected and analysed in total, with the results revealing a polarised public response. This research adds to the expanding body of literature on the framing of athlete mental health and is the first to focus on a female athlete. It reveals two notable findings: first, the public has failed to reach a consensus on athlete mental health, with many believing that athletes should be immune to the strains of competition. Second, while it was not a major theme throughout the narrative, Biles’ gender and race were presented both positively and negatively by social media users, which may not have been the case with male or White athletes.
Steph has previously presented the findings from this research at the Center for Sociocultural Sport and Olympic Research Annual Conference at California State University, Fullerton.
Congratulations to Steph!