Why do some fans travel to follow professional sport teams? In order to answer that question, participant observation and ethnographic interviews were used to examine the motives and behaviors of a group that undertakes a 5-day bus trip to watch its team play in a distant city. Nostalgia was identified as a key element of the experience. In particular, nostalgic recollections of past trips were found to be a vital basis for repeated travel by the group and for socializing new members. Five themes having to do with nostalgia were identified: nostalgia as motive, norms and rituals as objects of nostalgia, best experience as object of nostalgia, nostalgia as a basis for trip suggestions, and nostalgia through socialization. It is suggested that group-based nostalgia can play a more significant role in fan travel behavior than has heretofore been recognized and that nostalgic appeals can foster repeat purchase.
Matthew Lamont and Sheranne Fairley
Rituals may organically manifest on the periphery of official sport event programs, yet scholars have primarily focused on understanding the meaning of and experiences of athletes participating in the focal event. This paper explores a subworld ritual that occurs the day after major triathlon events in Australia. Organized by members of a distinct subworld within the broader social world of triathletes, the Beer Mile is a quasi-devious ritual performed by this subworld to mark the completion of a period of regimentation. The ritual embraces fortitude expressed through demonstrations of physicality, ability to handle alcohol, and boisterousness. We demonstrate how this ritual is a form of calculated hedonism that is both congruent and convergent with traditional endurance sport practices and norms.
Sheranne Fairley and B. David Tyler
Sport fandom, particularly game attendance, offers an opportunity for social interaction. However, actual attendance at sport events is unrealistic for many individuals. In an attempt to foster a sense of community among such fans, sport marketers have begun to create additional consumption sites by televising live games in central locations, such as in a movie theater. This study examines the motives and experiences of fans who attend a cinema to view live baseball games. Data were collected through participant observation, a survey distributed to event attendees (n = 188), and focus groups. Results suggest that the sense of community and social environment created at the cinema were key factors in the viewing experience. The cinema provided individuals a collective viewing experience with likeminded fans, which helped create a stadium-like environment. This atmosphere, which affords the opportunity to focus on the game (compared with viewing at home or in pubs), allows fans to feel more connected to the team as they believe the cinema offers an authentic environment. Thus, providing sites for fans to view the game with likeminded fans outside of the stadium can be used as a means of creating social ties that could lead to increased fan loyalty. For some individuals, the cinema experience was preferred over that of the ballpark.
Sheranne Fairley, Pamm Kellett and B. Christine Green
Volunteers have become essential to the delivery of sport events. Megaevents, such as the Olympic Games, rely on a large number of volunteers for the successful running of the event, some of whom travel to volunteer. This study investigates the motives of a group of people who volunteered at the Sydney Olympics as they prepared to travel to volunteer at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Four key motives were identified: (a) nostalgia, (b) camaraderie and friendship, (c) Olympic (i.e., subcultural) connection, and (d) sharing and recognition of expertise. The motives identified distinguish event volunteer tourists from other volunteer tourists and from other event volunteers. It is suggested that the recruitment, retention, and reacquisition of event volunteers will be served by understanding the motives and experiences of repeat event volunteers.
Kirstin Hallmann, Anita Zehrer, Sheranne Fairley and Lea Rossi
This research uses social role theory to investigate gender differences in volunteers at the Special Olympics and interrelationships among motivations, commitment, and social capital. Volunteers at the 2014 National Summer Special Olympics in Germany were surveyed (n = 891). Multigroup structural equation modeling has revealed gender differences among motivations, commitment, and social capital. Volunteers primarily volunteered for personal growth. Further, motivations had a significant association with commitment and social capital. The impact of motivation on social capital was significantly mediated by commitment. Event organizers should market opportunities to volunteer by emphasizing opportunities for personal growth and appealing to specific values.