Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Attitudes and Consumption Behaviors of Football Fans in the Middle East

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Attitudes and Consumption Behaviors of Football Fans in the Middle East

Article excerpt

Although research on sport fandom was relatively uncommon prior to the early 1990s (Wann & Hamlet, 1995), recent decades have seen a phenomenal growth in empirical and theoretical work directed toward fans and spectators. This work has come from a variety of disciplines, including sport marketing and management as well as sport psychology and sociology. The result of this increased research attention has been a substantial improvement in our understanding of the affective, cognitive, and behavioral reactions of sport consumers. However, although this work has most certainly advanced our knowledge base, a criticism of past efforts has been the lack of research from a cross cultural perspective. In fact, this shortcoming has led several authors to issue a call for increased work from a cross cultural point of view to reduce the homogeneity of the literature and the overreliance on North America samples (Harrolle, Trail, Rodriguez, & Jordan, 2010; Theodorakis & Wann, 2008). This lack of research exists despite the fact that there are often legions of fans following a variety of sports at majiy different levels of competition in many cultures in which fandom remains relatively unexplored.

Several authors have responded to the call for greater cross cultural work by examining the sport fandom of college students residing in different cultures. Several studies have been completed, targeting fan groups in Norway (Melnick & Wann, 2004), Greece (Theodorakis & Wann, 2008), Australia (Melnick & Wann, 2011), the United Kingdom (Parry, Jones, & Wann, 2014), and Qatar (Theodorakis, Wann, Al Emadi, Lianopoulos, & Foudouki, 2017). This work has focused on a wide variety of experiences of fans including perceptions of the socialization process (including socialization agents), levels of team identification for favourite teams (i.e., a fan's psychological connection to a team, see Wann, Melnick, Russell, & Pease, 2001), frequency of engaging in typical fan behaviours (e.g., attendance, sport television viewing), and gender differences in fandom. Taken together, this body of work reveals that there are striking differences across cultures while also revealing some highly consistent findings. With respect to differences, one notable inconsistency among the samples concerned the importance of one's community as an agent for sport fan socialization. In some cultures, this was reported as the most influential agent (e.g., Norway) while in others it was thought to be least impactful (e.g., United Kingdom, United States). Another distinguishing feature of the fan experience from the different samples concerned consumption behaviours. For example, in some cultures (e.g., Norway), following sport via the radio was far less common than in others (e.g., Australia). Similarly, use of the Internet to follow sport was particularly high in some cultures (e.g., Qatar). These findings likely reflect the differential availability of consumption options across various cultures. Fans from some locales were also more likely to discuss sport (e.g., Australia) than were persons from other cultures (e.g., Qatar).

With respect to similarities among the cultures, several highly consistent patterns emerged. For example, fathers were consistently rated as one of, if not the, most influential socialization agents in all samples. In addition, in all cultures the impact of team identification and sport fandom on common fan behaviours was clearly evident. That is, in all of the aforementioned studies, both sport fandom and team identification were significantly and positively correlated with attendance at sporting events, watching sport on television, and discussing sport with friends. Fandom and identification were significantly and positively related to sport radio consumption in all cultures except Norway.

The Current Investigation

The aforementioned studies have provided critical information on cross cultural differences and similarities in sport fandom and spectating. …

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