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Sports, Games, and Play: Social and Psychological Viewpoints

By Jeffrey H. Goldstein | Go to book overview

8
THE MOTIVES
OF SPORTS FANS

Lloyd Reynolds Sloan
Howard University

The candle-flame of sports has always drawn people to watch skilled others at play. Whatever has always lured spectators to these contests now consistently pulls over 100 million viewers to their television screens for the day's "big game" ( Eitzen & Sage, 1986). These 100 million cells that compose television's "Super Spectator" allow themselves to be bored, cajoled, seduced, and even misled by professional advertising in return for the privilege of watching the next sporting event. Sixty to seventy percent of our households watch professional and college sports regularly and 90% saw at least part of the Los Angeles Olympics. Although the world contained only 600 million television sets, over 800 million fans saw the last World Cup Soccer title game. This sports television phenomenon is so strong (1,500 hours of sports per year), that it has become a selfperpetuating, multibillion dollar industry, frequently creating contests, competitions, and even some new "sports" to continue to expand this lucrative market and presumably to satisfy genuine sports viewers' demands ( Michener, 1976; Snyder & Spreitzer, 1983a; Underwood, 1984).

The opportunity to watch a sporting event from the stands usually demands and readily receives even greater homage from the live spectator. Each year, millions of faithful fans eagerly drive great distances and pay usurious admission prices to be allowed to stand through a basketball game or to sit in freezing rain or snow in a football stadium. In a typical year, almost 200 million attend professional and college sports alone ( U.S. Census Abstracts, 1984). For many, sports spectating is their only real diversion and they spend considerable portions of their income in its pursuit ( Michener, 1976; Roberts, 1976; Underwood, 1984).

-175-

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