An Exploration of Sport Fandom in Online Communities

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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Understanding interactions between sport fans helps sport marketers customize relationships with the fans and enhance brand loyalty. This paper analyzes the social exchanges that take place in an online sport community and identifies possible fan roles and their influences in the community. Based on a netnography approach, the study identifies 4 different types of role—Oracles, Hollywoods, Jokers, and Rookies—yielding a typology of sport fans that denotes their roles in the online community. This typology may serve as a useful foundation in which a more comprehensive classification of sport fans could be developed. The study contributes to sport communication literature by bringing together the concepts of identity, social exchange, and role theory relative to sport-fan behavior in an online social community. The research offers suggestions for sport organizations regarding leveraging the value cocreated among sport fans and the leadership that emerged in the online sport community to develop effective sport communication programs.

The authors are with the Dept. of Marketing (AUT Business School), Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

Xu (yxu@aut.ac.nz) is corresponding author.
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