Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

An Examination of Levels of Fandom, Team Identification, Socialization Processes, and Fan Behaviors in Qatar

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

An Examination of Levels of Fandom, Team Identification, Socialization Processes, and Fan Behaviors in Qatar

Article excerpt

In 1995, Wann and Hamlet reported that less than 5 percent of articles appearing in several sport journals (e.g.. International Journal of Sport Psychology, Journal of Sport Behavior) targeted fans and spectators. However, in the decades since there has been tremendous growth in this literature. Fueled by research from a variety of fields (e.g., sport psychology, sport sociology, sport marketing and management), huge advancements have been made in our understanding of the affective, cognitive, and behavioral reactions of fans and spectators. These reactions include, but are far from limited to, the socialization process (Funk & James, 2001 ; Yoh, Pai, & Pedersen, 2009), spectator aggression (Dimmock & Grove, 2005; Gunter, 2006), the relationship between fandom and well-being (Reding, Grieve, Derryberry, & Paquin, 2011; Wann, 2006), and sport consumption (Fisher & Wakefield, 1998; Zhang, Pease, Hui, & Michaud, 1995).

Although these recent advances have been valuable, a limitation to this literature has been a lack of cross-cultural work. This void is concerning given that interesting patterns across cultures have been noted in several studies (e.g., Harrolle, 2010; Kwon & Trail, 2001), leading to a call for more cross-cultural work on fandom and spectating (Theodorakis & Wann, 2008). Beginning with work published in 2001 (Wann, Melnick, Russell, & Pease), Wann and his colleagues have authored a number of articles examining cross-cultural comparisons of sport fan-related behaviors in an attempt to partially fill this research void. These included the original work examining U.S. fans (Wann et al., 2001), subsequent studies targeting Norwegian (Melnick & Wann, 2004), Greek (Theodorakis & Wann, 2008), and Australian fans (Melnick & Wann, 2011), and the most recent publication on British fans (Parry, Jones, & Wann, 2014).

This body of literature has highlighted a number of similarities and differences among fans across various cultural groups and, thus, suggests the need for additional work in this area (work targeting as yet untested cultures). With respect to consistencies across cultures, one of the more striking findings involves the high degree of consistency of perceptions of the most influential socialization agent. Specifically, when asked to indicate the single greatest influence on their decision to become a fan, the most frequently listed agent for all cultures was a father. Another consistent result across each sample was the positive relationship between team identification (a fan's psychological connection to a team, sec Wann et al., 2001) and sport fan behaviors such as attendance at events and frequency of conversing about sport with others.

In other areas, there were clear differences between cultures. For example, although the impact of community as a socialization agent was ranked quite low in the majority of cultures, in Norway participants reported this to be the most influential agent. Given the powerful impact of club sports in the Norwegian sport culture, this difference seems quite reasonable. Large cross-cultural differences were also noted in frequencies of sport fan behaviors. For instance, participants comprising the British sample were much more likely to discuss sport daily than were persons from other cultures.

The current investigation was designed to extend past efforts by investigating a previously unexplored culture, namely, sport fandom in Qatar. Although the aforementioned studies had examined sport in numerous locations (e.g., North America, Australia, Europe), researchers had yet to examine fandom in the Middle East. Lately, Qatar has earned a prominent reputation as a hub of various sports and has become renowned for organizing many of the world's most exciting sport events in tennis, golf, handball, swimming, and boxing, to name just a few. Additionally, Qatar is home to diverse and less common sports, such as falconry and camel racing. …

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