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
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
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 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.
Aaron C. Mansfield, Matthew Katz, and Elizabeth B. Delia
Simultaneous to the sport industry’s economic surge, physical health has become an issue of growing societal concern. Fandom and health consciousness have concurrently emerged, yet scholars have not explored the social–psychological relationship between the two. To this end, we conducted semistructured, in-depth interviews with 17 self-identified health-conscious sport fans. We leverage identity theory to highlight these individuals’ “identity work.” Participants’ experiences were reflective of both identity conflict and identity integration. The outcome that manifested—conflict or integration—appeared to hinge on psychological and sociological variables. In sharing their stories, we contribute to a growing literature on role identity negotiation in sport fandom, in addition to providing insights on health-minded sport fans.
Elizabeth B. Delia, Jeffrey D. James, and Daniel L. Wann
Adding to research on team identification and well-being, inquiry into meaning in life and team identification could illuminate how sport fandom impacts consumers’ lives. In the current study, an instrumental case study design was used to explore how team identification impacts meaning in life, focusing on significance. Participant diaries and interviews with identified fans of a professional women’s basketball team revealed that connecting with family and friends, supporting women’s sport, and enhancing mental health via support of the team were sources of significance in participants’ lives. The findings illustrate that meaning in life is not necessarily experienced just from being a highly identified fan. Instead, specific elements of one’s connection to the team provide meaning. The findings also highlight the importance of close relationships over imaginary intimate relationships, impacting social justice among fans of women’s sport, and how mental health via fandom may provide older adults significance.
Elizabeth B. Delia, E. Nicole Melton, Katherine Sveinson, George B. Cunningham, and Daniel Lock
Sport consumer behavior researchers have developed a robust understanding of how and why people consume sport, and the consequences of consumption. There has been little reflection, however, on the settings or populations used to study consumers and develop theory. In acknowledging the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion to advance both theory and practice, the authors conducted a scoping review of diversity in sport consumer behavior research, focusing on four sport management journals. The review revealed a widespread lack of diversity, with most studies focusing on men’s sport in highly commercialized settings. Furthermore, study participants often identify as White men, middle-aged or young, educated, and with at least some disposable income. Leveraging an institutional work lens, the authors address taken-for-granted norms that may have contributed to these trends and propose solutions.