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.
Janet S. Fink, Heidi M. Parker, Martin Brett and Julie Higgins
Lauren Reichart Smith and Kenny D. Smith
This case study, using social-identity theory as a framework, examines how sport consumers and producers used different identifiers to engage in conversation during the final games of the 2012 College World Series of baseball. Five major hashtags were noted for each baseball team as primary identifiers; users fit in 3 main groups and subgroups. The analysis of tweets revealed 5 major themes around which the conversations primarily revolved. The study has implications for social-identity theory and team identification, as well as broader implications for audience fragmentation and notions of the community of sport.
Patrick Ferrucci and Edson C. Tandoc
This study experimentally tested whether White participants (N = 274) applied stereotypes to Black and White professional quarterbacks. Using common stereotypical descriptors established in prior research, this between-subjects experiment found that while the participants did not stereotype White quarterbacks, they did apply the stereotypes of “physically strong” and “naturally gifted” to Black quarterbacks, thus othering, or using race to establish an out group. These results are interpreted through the framework of social-identity theory.
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.
Douglas L. Mendenhall
In an introductory undergraduate media course, Super Bowl XLIX was used as a hands-on vehicle to introduce students to the discipline of mass-media research. From a week before and after Super Bowl XLIX, 269 original blog posts and 91 sets of appended comments from Web sites devoted to the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots were analyzed for significant differences using Diction 7.0, a common word-counting program that measures tone in dozens of ways. More than a dozen variations found in the blog messages are used to describe a “team tone” unique to Seahawks blogs and another unique to Patriots blogs. Some elements of these team tones are present across all messages, while others existed only before the game was played or arose only after New England’s dramatic win in the closing moments. Postgame variations include greater optimism in the tone of New England Patriots bloggers and greater hardship and denial in the tone of Seattle Seahawks bloggers. Results are discussed from the perspective of social-identity theory.
Tanya McGuane, Stephen Shannon, Lee-Ann Sharp, Martin Dempster and Gavin Breslin
to study how athletes’ identity formation, and hence group behavior, is influenced by social processes is social-identity theory (SIT; Tajfel, 1982 ). SIT assesses the formation of identity, based on membership in a social in-group. When individuals perceive personal value in subscribing to in
Sean R. Sadri
The current study examined how article source, medium, and fan identification can all affect the credibility of sports articles. An online experiment was conducted, and participants read an article that was indicated to have originated from a mainstream sports Web site, a sports blog, a social-networking site, or a wire service. Analysis revealed that fan-identification level was an important factor in credibility ratings in which highly identified fans found sports articles to be significantly more credible than fans with low identification. Highly identified fans also rated the article as equally credible on all 3 Web sites. However, low-identification fans rated the mainstream sports Web site article as significantly more credible than the other 2. Article medium was not shown to have a significant influence on perceived credibility for either identification group. The implications of fan-identification level on the discrepancies in ratings of perceived credibility are explored.
David Welch Suggs Jr. and Jason Lee Guthrie
Part of the goal of the International Paralympic Committee is to “touch the heart of all people for a more equitable society” by exposing people to adaptive sports, with the goal of improving public views toward people with disabilities. The authors hypothesized that exposure to parasocial contact with images of athletes with disabilities could lead to a change in attitude during the formation of social identity, disrupting the tendency to view the population of individuals with physical disabilities as “other. ” This case study found that viewing a documentary of a Paralympic sprinter produced in the same style as an Olympic feature appeared to affect the emotional components of attitude formation, especially when compared with respondents who viewed a comparable documentary about an able-bodied athlete. These findings are of interest to proponents of adaptive sports, producers of adaptive-sports media, and marketers who use athletes with disabilities in advertising campaigns.
Bastian Popp, Chris Horbel and Claas Christian Germelmann
context of team sport—more specifically in European football. (We use the term football throughout this paper when referring to soccer.) Adopting a social-identity-theory approach ( Tajfel & Turner, 1979 ), this research aimed to study how antisponsor communities influence football fans and their self
Maurice Vergeer and Leon Mulder
). Group identity can be interpreted in line with social-identity theory ( Tajfel, 1982 ). In particular, identity formation in combination with the struggle for scarce goods (i.e., win or lose, cf. Blalock’s realistic conflict theory, 1967 ; cf. LeVine & Campbell, 1972 ), creates an ingroup