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.
Divided Loyalty? An Analysis of Fantasy Football Involvement and Fan Loyalty to Individual National Football League (NFL) Teams
The Impact of Fantasy Football Involvement on Intentions to Watch National Football League Games on Television
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.
For Love or Money: Developing and Validating a Motivational Scale for Fantasy Football Participation
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.
Man or Machine: Fantasy Football and Dehumanization of Professional Athletes
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.
Niche- Versus Mainstream-Sport Spectators: An Analysis of Need for Uniqueness and Sport eFANgelism
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.
Study Abroad’s Impact on U.S. Sport Management Students
Carrie W. LeCrom, Brendan Dwyer, and Gregory Greenhalgh
As society looks to identify globally minded citizens and leaders to move us forward, sport and education have a leading role to play. The sport industry is unique in how globally focused it is, and therefore, it is critical that sport management students be well prepared for this world. Study-abroad experiences for sport management students have the ability to aid in their development as world-minded individuals. The current study sampled students from four sport management programs participating in study-abroad programs over a 3-year time frame. The pre- and posttest results on a scale of global mindedness revealed no significant differences before and after studying abroad; however, there were significant differences between the five factors of global mindedness. Reasons for these potential findings, related to the theory of reasoned action, are discussed, as well as how this study can be built on in future iterations.
Sport Event Sponsorship in the Midst of Crisis: A Teaching Case Study on the Partnership Between RunCzech and Adidas
William Crossan, Jan Šíma, and Brendan Dwyer
This case provides students with an opportunity to observe RunCzech, a historically successful sport event organization, as they navigate a crisis and strive to satisfy all stakeholders, with emphasis on the sponsor stakeholders. Students are familiarized with the challenges facing RunCzech and their corresponding response. The event organizers strive to mitigate these challenges with their crisis management strategy. This strategy includes creating new events in partnership with their sponsors while remaining in compliance with changing government restrictions. RunCzech’s crisis management, and the communication surrounding it, is framed in terms of Coombs’s situational crisis communication theory. The students see innovative crisis management, with a primary focus on sponsors as stakeholders, before being tasked with communicating these crisis management efforts to one specific sponsor, adidas.
Theory Creation in Sport for Development: Reflections on Barriers and Strategies for Advancement
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.
Fantasy Millionaires: Identifying At-Risk Consumers Based on Motivation
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.
To Play or Not to Play? An Analysis of Dispositions, Gambling, and Daily Fantasy Sport
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.