As global sponsorship spending increases, so too do efforts to gauge effects of sponsorship. However, much of the sponsorship literature to date has emphasized the influence of sponsorship from a business perspective, thus neglecting to address the social and psychological influence of sponsorship on the consumer. Reasoning that such deep levels of consumer inquiry cannot be accomplished through (post)positivist inquiry, I pursue an interpretive ethnographic mode of inquiry, using Syracuse University fandom as a case study. In doing so, I engage in reflexive autobiography as a method of critical inquiry to interrogate my own (personal, professional, and academic) experience with sponsorship (specifically, facility naming rights) as a Syracuse fan. Through this introspection, I discover my perception of and connection to the sponsor are inherently complex, as I possess a subconscious yet meaningful attachment to the sponsor that contributes to my overall well-being.
Elizabeth B. Delia
Team identification has frequently been associated with positive outcomes; however, team identification is also associated with negative outcomes such as identity threat. Team identity threat has been studied from the perspective that fans enduring identity threat employ emotion-focused coping rather than problem-focused coping strategies because they lack the authority to change team-related stressors. In this study, the author examined fan reaction to team identity threat, wherein fans ultimately used both problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping strategies. The particular instance examined involved fans of a National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball team reacting to an identity threat caused by program scandal. Through the use of unobtrusive digital observation, fan reaction was analyzed via comments from three online sources. The study highlights how fans used problem-focused coping to preserve identity meaning, creating their own reality in the process. Theoretical and managerial implications of the research are discussed.
Elizabeth B. Delia
To date, almost all team identification inquiries have focused on men’s sport, with minimal studies using women’s sport to examine the concept. Recognizing social identities are fluid and context dependent, the purpose of the current study was to understand the psychological meaning of team among individuals who identify with a women’s sport team. Using an interpretive mode of inquiry, the author conducted interviews with fans of a professional women’s basketball team. Central elements of team meaning were gender equality (contributing to social change) and pure sport (perceptions of game play and player characteristics). These aspects jointly contribute to a paradox experienced by fans, in that perceived purity may be sacrificed in realizing social change. Theoretical implications include the ability of teams to represent social movement organizations, as well as the need for individuals to shed status-irrelevant aspects of an identity to raise a low-status group.
Elizabeth B. Delia and Cole G. Armstrong
Scholars have frequently examined sponsorship effectiveness via survey instrument; however, no efforts have been made to gauge sponsorship effectiveness via social networking sites. As a medium for consumer activity and interaction, scholars and industry professionals can leverage social media to monitor the effects of sponsorship in real time, as consumers experience a sporting event. In this exploratory study, we employed a mixed methods study design to examine Twitter users’ discussion of 2013 French Open sponsors during the tennis tournament. We found a weak positive relationship between sponsor-event functional fit and positive sponsor-related sentiment, and a weak positive relationship between a sponsor company’s social media presence and event-related buzz. Through case study analysis, we discovered unintended misrepresentation and activation were apparent drivers of sponsor-related social media conversation during the 2013 French Open. As an emerging area for sponsorship research, we provide suggestions for future research into sponsorship and social media.