Fantasy football participation is an extremely-popular, yet unique online activity that combines traditional sport fandom with interactive components to enhance a fan’s overall sport experience. The player-specific concentration of the game, however, has the potential to alter traditional team-focused loyalties that have driven sport consumer behavior inquiry for decades. Due to this intriguing circumstance, this study investigated the relationship between fantasy football involvement and traditional NFL fan loyalty. In addition, given the varying levels of fantasy participation, this study examined factors that predict differing levels of involvement among fantasy owners. The results suggest a positive relationship between involvement and attitudinal loyalty and a nonstandard relationship between a highly-involved fantasy football participant’s attitudes and behaviors, especially with regard to team loyalty. Discussed are the theoretical repercussions of this conceptual disconnect, the potential for future research, and practical implications for the future marketing of individual teams, leagues, and fantasy-related applications.
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The business of fantasy football is a multibillion dollar-per-year industry. However, academic inquiry into the distinct attitudes and intentions of fantasy football participants is underdeveloped. Therefore, following Fazio, Powell, and Herr’s proposed attitude–behavior framework, this study examined the relationship between sport fans’ attitudes, fantasy football involvement level, and intentions to watch the televised broadcast of National Football League (NFL) games. The results suggest that fantasy football is a noteworthy connection point for NFL fans. Specifically, fantasy participation appears to duplicate the positive and negative attitudes of traditional team fandom, and this replication ultimately increases television viewership throughout the league. Thus, instead of competing with traditional team-focused professional-football viewership, fantasy football appears to be a complementary or value-adding activity. Discussed are theoretical outcomes, as well as the practical implications for sport marketers and media providers looking to capitalize on this highly popular and lucrative online activity.
Brendan Dwyer and Yongjae Kim
The contemporary sport fan has the ability to consume spectator sport through several means including event attendance, television and radio broadcasts, print publications, and Internet applications. Recently, an ancillary sport service, termed fantasy sports, has become one of the most popular activities among sport fans. As a result, the business of fantasy sports is booming. This study examined motivational dimensions underlying fantasy football participation from a Uses and Gratifications perspective. Utilizing Churchill’s (1979) five-step method for developing quality marketing measures, this study identified and validated three motivational dimensions: entertainment/escape, competition, and social interaction. The results suggest a pattern of fantasy football participation that is more purposeful and active than traditional media use. Discussed are the gambling associations, future research opportunities, and suggestions for developing fantasy football participation into a more creative and interactive marketing communication tool.
Joris Drayer, Brendan Dwyer, and Stephen L. Shapiro
The daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry came under heavy criticism for marketing messages focused on the potential for financial gain despite overwhelming evidence that only a small percentage of participants were actually winning money. Under pressure, many DFS websites are shifting their focus toward the activity’s entertainment value. The purpose of the current study is to determine if participants exhibit cognitive and behavioral differences based on their reason for playing. In this study, a sample of DFS participants was segmented based on intrinsic (entertainment) and extrinsic (financial gain) motivation scores. Once separated, cognitive and behavioral contrasts were drawn. The results indicated those individuals motivated by financial gain were more similar to problem gamblers cognitively, yet those intrinsically motivated spent more time and money on the activity. Given the changing legal status of sports betting in the United States, managers and policymakers should carefully consider the risks associated with DFS participation.
Brendan Dwyer, Joris Drayer, and Stephen L. Shapiro
Following a mega-advertising blitz in the late summer of 2015, daily fantasy sports (DFSs) entered a maturing fantasy sports market as a new, highly accessible, and potentially lucrative alternative to traditional, season-long fantasy sports. The two activities share a name but represent substantially different business models. In the view of some policy makers and state legislatures, DFS appeared to resemble a new form of sports wagering and as a result, several U.S. states banned the activity. The current study examined the consumption behavior differences and gambling-related dispositions of those fantasy participants who play DFS and those who do not. A total of 314 fantasy football participants were surveyed, and the results contribute to what we know about gambling and DFS participation. Although distinct differences were found between the two groups, the overall assessment of the findings suggest DFS participation appears to align more with highly involved traditional, season-long fantasy sports participation than other forms of gambling.
Ben Larkin, Brendan Dwyer, and Chad Goebert
Fantasy sport has seen substantial growth over the last several decades, provoking research on how participation impacts the perceptions of teams and players. Following research in the field of economics, which has found that contexts promoting the assignment of economic value to humans result in dehumanization, the authors explored the dehumanization of professional athletes among fantasy football participants. Specifically, given that fantasy football requires participants to view players in terms of value in drafts, trades, and waiver claims, this should theoretically force participants to view them as commodities more so than humans. Across three implicit association test experiments and a qualitative study, the authors found fantasy football participants to be more apt to associate humanness with athletes on their fantasy roster(s) than non-fantasy-eligible athletes. Furthermore, qualitative insights indicate that participation in fantasy can serve to humanize players in a way that traditional sport consumption does not. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Carrie W. LeCrom, Brendan Dwyer, and Gregory Greenhalgh
The scholars of sport for development (SFD) suggest the need for advancements in theory development and stronger connections between practice and theory. This article outlines some of the challenges and barriers to theory development in SFD and suggests ways to move forward. The authors state that theories and frameworks in SFD are underdeveloped as a result of methodological and contextual challenges due to the variance in SFD programming. The SFD programs are being implemented across the globe in a myriad of countries and contexts, addressing varying social issues that make theory development challenging. Suggestions are put forward to help scholars and practitioners overcome these challenges, including creativity in methodology, collaborations in program assessment, and the need for patience required of fields focusing on social and behavioral change.
Brendan Dwyer, Greg Greenhalgh, and Carrie LeCrom
The sport marketplace is overcrowded, and contemporary sport fans have more choices than ever. This makes it difficult for new teams, leagues, and sports to enter the marketplace. In addition, a cultural oligarchy of mainstream sport leagues currently dominates media coverage. As a result, marketers and managers of emerging sports need to understand the attributes for which sport fans connect with entities. Little is known, however, about the differences between fans of niche (emerging or nonmainstream) sports and their mainstream-sport counterparts. Guided by social-identity theory, this study explored the dispositional and behavioral differences between niche- and mainstream-sport fans as a means of psychometric and behavioral segmentation. In particular, an individual’s need for uniqueness and communication behaviors were compared. The results suggest that dispositional differences between the segments were minimal. However, potentially important behavioral differences were uncovered related to how sport fans assimilate with others and advertise their sport affiliations.
Brendan Dwyer, Stephen L. Shapiro, and Joris Drayer
Sports betting in the United States is exploding in popularity and has the potential to change the way sports fans interact with sports properties and sports content. However, not all sports bettors are the same, and market segmentation research provides a resource for more targeted communication and marketing strategies. Utilizing behavioral and psychographic data, the current study segmented 1,077 sports bettors by involvement. The segments were then contrasted on a number of factors within the framework of Mowen’s 3M model of motivation and personality. A sample of 513 nonbetting sports fans was also included as a segment within the analyses. Statistically significant differences were found at the motivational, elemental, compound, and surface trait levels between the betting segments and between the betting and the nonbetting sports fans. The findings point to a strong emotional draw regardless of involvement yet a clear need for the betting industry to educate on issues related to jurisdictional legality and common language.
Brendan Dwyer, Joshua M. Lupinek, and Rebecca M. Achen
Women represent the fastest growing demographic for the fantasy sports industry, making up approximately 38% of fantasy football participants. To help understand this growth, this study was an attempt to explore why women play fantasy football. Themes and statements derived from qualitative data collected through open-ended survey responses and face-to-face interviews were tested on two samples of female fantasy football participants. In all, 450 unique individuals were studied, and five distinct motive factors were uncovered: Challenge, Enjoy, Enhance, Socialize, and Connect. The first three dimensions mirror the motives of male participants, and the other two are unique to women. While the factors were correlated, the results provide evidence that the factors impact different outcomes associated with the activity.