Presentations, discussion, and drinks – this is (or almost was) my September. Conference season is the best time of the year, and from September 5th to 8th I found my way to Malmö, Sweden, to attend the European Sports Management Conference, lovingly called “EASM” (which sounds a lot like ‘Eeee-sum’). This was my first time attending a conference with solely sports management folks, for whom the effects of the media only play a small role in their overall discipline.
Anyway, I’ve heard many interesting talks, and also gave my own, called “The Footy Girls of Tumblr – How Women Communicate in the Online Football Fandom. Insights from The US, The UK, and Germany”. I talked about how the social network platform Tumblr is a “safe space” for young female football fans [to my American friends: of course, I’m talking about real football], who talk among themselves, without men or boys interfering. “Interfering” sounds harsh, but as research found, the discourse of sports being a male domain is replicated online, and women find themselves marginalised in it (see what Hardin, Zhong and Corrigan 2011 have to say). So, Tumblr is a space to live the football fandom in more than one way, e.g. by liveblogging during matches, by creating art featuring football players and team, or by discussing information that the media picks up on late or never. Of course, the Tumblr football fandom also has its challenges, like over the top rivalries between teams and their fans, but, all in all, it has proven to be a valuable place to hang out for my interviewees. Oh, and I had to change my subtitle – in the end, I interviewed Tumblr users from ten countries, and not three… I’m happy that my presentation was received well, and that I could show people that there is indeed a very active female football fandom – it simply likes to stay out of the spotlight.
As the conference was quite big, with almost 500 attendees, I heard so many different talks that’s it’s hard to remember them all. Especially since the management people are quite efficient – there was scheduled time between individual presentations in a session to switch rooms! I’ve never seen this before, as I am only familiar with the ‘you choose your session, you stick with all presentations in it’ rule. So, I moved quite often between presentations, meaning I could this get a very wide view of what research in sports management deals with. And a few works could definitely benefit from a media perspective…!
Malmö was nice, too, and it was good to know that one could book the ‘Zlatan suite’ at the conference hotel, with big pictures of him on the walls and everything. Why not! In sum, I met many great people, and I’m sure to work with some of them for one project or the other.