Impact of Japanese Professional Baseball Fans' Satisfaction on Sports Participation Behavior

Article excerpt

Professional sports are an inherently commercial activity, with related project proposals and services as primary indicators for the marketing and operation of the sport, and as essential tools allowing professional sports to be integrated into the lives of members and participants (Mason, 1999). Professional sports also provide a high quality viewing experience of competition and uncertain competition results to attract fans (Schmidt & Berri, 2001; Schofield, 1983). Professional sport participants are important assets and form the basis for management and development. Because the sense of community that professional sport participants experience is based on the development of professional league regulations, activities, and products, these factors are able to increase the investment and loyalty behavior of participants (Blanchard & Markus, 2004; Sutton, McDonald, & Milne, 1997).

A sense of community is formed from the interaction of factors including geographical location, interest, and recognition, with mutually interconnected behaviors, emotions, needs, and interactions exchanged among members of the community (Rovai, 2002). If community managers are able to satisfy the relevant needs of their communities and understand the motivation for demand and other conditions, then community cohesiveness, solidarity, attractiveness, continuation, and opportunities for sharing and development can be improved, thus increasing the population growth rate and satisfaction of the community (Dietz-Uhler & Murrell, 1999; Kim, Lee, & Hiemstra, 2004; Murrell & Dietz, 1992). In this study we investigated correlations among sports participation behavior, satisfaction theory, and experience theory in relation to current participants in the Japanese professional baseball fan community.

Regarding service experience, Schmitt (1999) proposed that the definition of experience is the motivation and demands, and subsequent thought processes, sense of approval, or purchasing behavior induced after participants view or participate in an event, and their perceptions of certain stimulation. In the current competitive environment, the provision of superior products or services alone is insufficient to satisfy modern consumers. Thus, more diverse product value and services and consumer personalization, special experiences, and differentiation are the indicators and demands emphasized by current consumers (Parasuraman, Zeithaml & Berry, 1994; Spreng & Mackoy, 1996; Walker, 1995; Zeithaml, Parasuraman, & Berry, 1985).

Based on the concepts of these scholars, we included product, service, value, and marketing in participant experiences; divided experience into product, marketing, and image factors; then integrated all these factors to form the basis for the service experience scale developed in this study. Turner (2001) found that the accumulation of consumer experience impacts consumer behavior, and successful experience induces consumers to produce a sense of attachment toward a product or service, becoming advocates for the product or service, attempting to produce interaction with the product or service, and sharing this experiential value with others. Thus, fan experience development paths can be analyzed based on the Japanese professional baseball fans' perceptions of, and attitudes toward, the service content of a sporting event. In summary, whether or not the experience acts as an adjustment variable impacting fan satisfaction with the sporting event is a topic that merits further examination.

Satisfaction is a perspective and perception drawn from personal participation during and after an activity, and refers to the degree of happiness or satisfaction felt toward perceptions, experiences, and situations. This consciousness and perception originates from the psychological condition and perceived value created by the people, events, and objects with which the individual interacted during the participation process (Anderson & Fornell, 1994; Humphreys & Ruseski, 2006; Oliver, 1997). …