Marketing Murderball: The Influence of Spectator Motivation Factors on Sports Consumption Behaviours of Wheelchair Rugby Spectators

Article excerpt

Executive summary

Spectator motivation has been consistently found to be one of the most salient variables affecting sport spectator consumption behaviours (e.g. Funk, Mahony & Ridinger, 2002; Trail, Fink & Anderson, 2003). Spectator motivation has been studied in a number of contexts, including women's professional basketball (Funk, Ridinger & Moorman 2003), professional baseball (Trail & James, 2001) and men's professional basketball (Pease & Zhang, 2001) as well as new domains such as mixed martial arts (Andrew, Kim, O'Neal, Greenwell & James, 2009; Kim, Andrew & Greenwell, 2009) and soccer and ski-jumping (Mehus, 2005). To date, research has focused primarily on non-adaptive sports. Therefore, a need exists to examine spectators of adaptive sports to better understand this population. The current study was designed to examine the relationships between spectator motivation and sports consumption behaviours, repatronage intentions and online media consumption in the context of wheelchair rugby events.

Respondents were spectators from five matches involving registered United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA) teams held in the Midwestern United States. Data were collected using a random cluster sampling technique to include a variety of spectators.

After removing unusable data, 105 questionnaires were found to be useable for data analyses. The modified version of the Motivation Scale for Sport Consumption (MSSC; Trail & James, 2001) was used to measure spectator motivation. A total of seven factors were included in the MSSC: (a) achievement, (b) knowledge, (c) aesthetics, (d) drama, (e) escape, (f) physical skill and (g) social interaction. To better understand how spectator motivation could explain sports consumption behaviours, two behavioural loyalty constructs were measured, including repatronage intentions (Soderlund, 2006) and online media consumption, which was adapted from Fink, Trail and Anderson (2002).

A Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) was employed to examine the psychometric properties of the MSSC. In addition, two multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationships between spectator motivation factors and sports consumption behaviour factors. The CFA results indicated that the MSSC demonstrated sound psychometric properties in the wheelchair rugby setting. The results of the multiple regression analyses indicated that physical skill and knowledge motivation factors were statistically significant predictors of repatronage intentions. In addition, knowledge and vicarious achievement factors contributed to predicting online media consumption.

The results of this study have the potential to benefit the wheelchair rugby teams and league, which often operate with limited marketing budgets. Suggestions for practitioners to increase repatronage intentions are as follows. With respect to the physical skill motivation factor, wheelchair rugby organisers should recruit teams to compete based more on their skill level than geographical convenience. With respect to the knowledge motivation factor, event organisers should consider providing an information booklet that includes a short explanation of the rules of the sport, an explanation of the disability classification system and an introduction to the athletes on the home team. In addition, event organisers should consider providing 'fan days' in which fans can try the wheelchairs and play the sport, to increase their tactile knowledge of the game.

Finally, with respect to online media consumption, knowledge can be increased by developing short educational vignettes strategically placed on websites to educate prospective fans. With respect to the vicarious achievement factor, more wheelchair rugby teams should develop team websites and consider using social networking sites to develop various groups to provide information and foster fan identification with the team. …