When it comes to fans of professional sport teams who are left behind when their favorite team relocates to a new city, the authors argue that there are a variety of ways in which these fans can identify with the relocated team. This runs against the traditional conception of how left-behind fans view the franchise in its new home. Fans are thought to follow two paths: They either cheer for the team in the new city, or they stop cheering for the team altogether. The authors have found that this conception of fans is inadequate. Using the expanded model of organizational identification (EMOI), the authors find that after a team relocates there are at least five different ways a fan can identify with the relocated team: identification, disidentification, schizoidentification, neutral identification, and nonidentification. These are illustrated by fitting the stories of 23 Hartford Whalers fans into the model.
William M. Foster and Craig Hyatt
Joe J. Phua
Research on sports fans has demonstrated a positive relationship between fan identification and self-esteem. The current investigation extended previous research by testing media use as a moderator. The author hypothesized that media use would be positively associated with measures of fan identification and collective self-esteem and also moderate the relationship between these 2 variables. This is because media use enhances positive distinctiveness for fans of sports teams, leading to higher collective self-esteem levels because of the ability to get up-to-date information about the team or player they support. Data gathered from student fans (N = 203) of a major U.S. west coast university football team confirmed the author’s expectations that sports fans’ use of 4 types of media—print, broadcast, online, and mobile phones—moderated the relationship between fan identification and collective self-esteem, with online media having the greatest impact on this relationship.
Harry H. Kwon, Galen Trail and Jeffrey D. James
The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential mediating effect of perceived value in the relationship between team identification and intent to purchase collegiate team-licensed apparel. Direct effect, partially mediated, and fully mediated models were compared. The respondents were students (N = 110) attending a large university in the southeastern United States. Participants first completed the Team Identification Scale and then viewed a slide depicting an article of licensed merchandise (t-shirt). Participants next completed the Perceived Value and Purchase Intention Scales. Goodness-of-fit statistics indicated that the direct effect model did not fit the data. The partially mediated and the fully mediated models fit equally well; the latter was more parsimonious and thus was chosen for further analysis. Team identification explained 13.2% of the variance in perceived value; perceived value explained 42.6% of the variance in purchase intentions. The findings indicate that team identification alone did not drive the purchase intentions in this study; it is important to take into account the perceived value of the team-licensed merchandise.
Robert F. Potter and Justin Robert Keene
An experiment investigates the impact of fan identification on the cognitive and emotional processing of sports-related news media. Two coaches were featured; one conceptualized as negatively valenced the other positively. Participants completed a fan identification scale before stimuli presentation. While watching the press conferences, heart rate, skin conductance, and corrugator muscle activity were recorded as indices of cognitive resource allocation, emotional arousal, and aversive motivation activation respectively. Self-report measures were collected after each stimulus. Results show that highly identified fans process sports-related news content differently than moderate fans, allocating more cognitive resources and exhibiting greater aversive reactions to the negatively valenced coach. Comparisons between the self-report and psychophysiology data suggest that the latter may be less susceptible to social desirability response bias when emotional reaction to sports messages are concerned.
The purpose of this study was to examine how fans of professional sports use mobile content to develop fan support. Mobile-content dimensions were evaluated and their relationships with attitudinal and behavioral loyalty, team identification, and sport fandom were tested. A total of 665 young professional sport fans were surveyed in the southwest region of the United States. Three mobile-content dimensions—information, service, and interaction—were identified. The results indicate that the information dimension was positively associated with attitudinal loyalty, team identification, and sport fandom. The service dimension was positively linked to behavioral loyalty. The findings suggest that young professional sports fans’ selective use of mobile content accounts for different types of fan support.
Kevin Gwinner and Gregg Bennett
This investigation analyzed the effects of sport identification and brand cohesiveness as predictors of brand fit in a unique sponsorship context by examining consumer responses to event sponsorships of the Dew Action Sports Tour. An additional focus of this research endeavor assessed the impact of brand fit on two important consumer behavioral outcomes: attitude toward sponsors and purchase intentions. Data were collected from 552 attendees at the Louisville, Kentucky stop of the Dew Action Sports Tour. The results of the study support our hypotheses that fit impacts attitude toward the sponsor which has a positive influence on consumer’s purchase intentions. The examination of influence that brand cohesiveness and sport identification have on fit perceptions extends our theoretical understanding of fit in a sponsorship context as up until now, research in this area has focused almost exclusively on outcomes of fit and not on those variables that might influence fit.
Natalie A. Brown, Michael B. Devlin and Andrew C. Billings
This study explores the implications of the sports communication theory of fan identification and the divisions often developed between identifying with a single athlete and the bonds developed for a sport as a whole. Using the fastest growing North American sport, mixed martial arts (MMA)—more specifically, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)—differences in levels of fan identification were examined in relationship to attitudes toward individual athletes and attitudes toward the UFC organization. An online survey of 911 respondents produced a highly representative sample of the UFC’s current audience demographics. Results showed significant differences in fan identify between gender, age, and sensationseeking behaviors, suggesting that distinct demographic variables may influence the role that fan identity has not only in sports media consumption but also in future event consumption. Implications and ramifications for future theoretical sports communication research and sports marketing are postulated.
Daniel Lock, Daniel C. Funk, Jason P. Doyle and Heath McDonald
The propensity of strongly identified fans to contribute positive organizational outcomes for sport teams underpins why team identification maintains a central position in sport management. In the current study we examine the multidimensional structure, stability, and interrelationships between the dimensions of team identification, using longitudinal data (April 2011–April 2012) collected from fans of a new Australian Rules football team (N = 602). A Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) of the team identification items included (measured using the Team*ID scale), supported a five-dimensional model structure. This model was subsequently computed as a longitudinal CFA to test the configural and metric invariance of the Team*ID scale. We used a cross-lagged panel model to examine the longitudinal stability of, and interrelationships between, the dimensions: affect, behavioral involvement, cognitive awareness, private evaluation, and public evaluation. Each dimension displayed relative stability over time. In addition, public evaluation and private evaluation in April 2011 displayed a positive relationship with behavioral involvement in April 2012. Similarly, cognitive awareness in April 2011 predicted increases in public evaluation in April 2012. We conclude with implications for theory and practice.
Janet S. Fink, Heidi M. Parker, Martin Brett and Julie Higgins
In the current article, we extend the literature on fan identification and social identity theory by examining the effects of unscrupulous off-field behaviors of athletes. In doing so, we drew from both social identity theory and Heider’s balance theory to hypothesize a significant interaction between fan identification level and leadership response on fans’ subsequent levels of identification. An experimental study was performed and a 2 (high, low identification) × 2 (weak, strong leadership response) ANOVA was conducted with the pre to post difference score in team identification as the dependent variable. There was a significant interaction effect (F (2, 80) = 23.71, p < .001) which explained 23% of the variance in the difference between prepost test scores. The results provide evidence that unscrupulous acts by athletes off the field of play can impact levels of team identification, particularly for highly identified fans exposed to a weak leadership response. The results are discussed relative to appropriate theory. Practical implications and suggestions for future research are also forwarded.
Melanie L. Sartore-Baldwin and Matthew Walker
Despite anecdotal claims attesting to the influence that social responsiveness has on the purchase behaviors of consumers, this article examined if a specific initiative could result in such outcomes. We investigated the extent to which the Drive for Diversity (D4D) initiative affected consumers’ perceived image and patronage directed toward NASCAR. This study was partially motivated by the importance of social initiatives in practice to underscore their influence on customer-related outcomes. As such, the findings indicated that the NASCAR’s D4D and the perceived image of the organization are key variables in the model. The results also highlighted the mediating role of image and the moderating role of identification on the proposed relationship. More specifically, the authors found that the socially responsive initiative only moderately influenced consumers’ intentions but when coupled with the image of the organization, this relationship became far more impactful.