Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Public Relations


Brad Horn

Second Advisor

Hua Jiang


looking-glass self, public relations, self-esteem, social media, Sports psychology, student-athlete

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study evaluates the role of positive and negative messages on social media from sports fans and its effect on student-athletes’ self-esteem and performance. Through a qualitative research process, this study examined what drives student-athletes to seek validation of their identities through messages in social media and how the messages they read online affect their self-esteem and performance in their sport. Public relations has become an integral part in college athletics in reputation management, brand attributes and social issues. It is essential that public relations specialists involved in athletics are aware of how their student-athletes are feeling regarding social media and controversial events happening in the world. Athletic programs must be able to communicate effectively and educate its student-athletes on current events and how to manage their brand on social media. Student-athletes on the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Syracuse University were selected to participate in a focus group where ten questions were asked regarding how they felt about their audience and followers on social media. Basketball players were chosen for this research due to my participation as a women’s basketball player at Syracuse University. Both the men’s and women’s teams were chosen to differentiate if one gender is impacted more than the other.


Open Access



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