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Sport & Exercise Research Group Seminar: When Fanaticism turns Toxic: Sentiment Analysis of Social Media Commentary on Amateur Sport in Ireland

October 11 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm


October 11
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm


The Bridge Room 1001 First Floor Hardiman Research Building, University of Galway
Ireland + Google Map


Dr Seán Crosson

When Fanaticism turns Toxic: Sentiment Analysis of Social Media Commentary on Amateur Sport in Ireland

Dr. Michael Lang, Associate Professor in Business Information Systems, University of Galway



Sports organisations perform an invaluable function in Irish society, promoting positive physical and mental health and helping young persons develop important life skills and attitudes, the benefits of which extend far beyond the field of play. For the greater part, these organisations depend on unpaid volunteers and amateur athletes who freely give of their time for such reasons as loyalty to their local communities, enthusiasm for sport, interest in youth development, desire to give something back, and social enjoyment. Unfortunately, this spirit of volunteerism is coming under threat from the dark side of social media. Leading figures within the GAA, LGFA, FAI, IRFU, Basketball Ireland and other sporting organisations have strongly come out against the worrying trend of growing abuse of players, managers and officials on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. This paper uses a sample of GAA-related tweets and posts drawn from the period 2012 to 2022. Using data analytics techniques, the nature and incidence of negative comments are analysed. The paper concludes by briefly discussing actions that can be taken to address this growing scourge, including internal disciplinary actions by sporting organisations, responsible journalistic practices, and recourse to existing and emerging national and international legislation.


Michael Lang is an Associate Professor in Business Information Systems within the School of Business & Economics at University of Galway. His principal research interests are Information Systems Education, Data Analytics and Cybersecurity. He is currently the Information Technology Officer of Mayo GAA.