The current study was a measurement of whether or not females and males were equally likely to report being sport fans, and to identify whether the motives influencing the consumption of women's college basketball were different than the motives influencing the consumption of men's college basketball. Fans of women's basketball and fans of men's basketball were compared on nine sport consumption motives. Data for the project came from 318 fans attending women's basketball games and 316 fans attending men's basketball games. Based upon the results, men had significantly higher sport fan ratings than women. There were significant differences between females and males on two of the sport consumption motives, Aesthetics and Knowledge. Men reported a greater appreciation for the natural beauty in the game of basketball, and greater enjoyment of games because of their knowledge of basketball. There was no significant difference between the two motives rated highest by women and men, the Action in games and the opportunity to Escape from one's daily routine. The reasons for watching and following a specific sport were similar for females and males, regardless of the sex of the athletes.
Sport spectating continues to be a predominant form of leisure behavior in today's society. Based upon a national survey, consumer interest in twelve major sports in the United States increased over a four year period (Frank, 2000). Sixty-seven percent of the U.S. population were estimated to be fans of the National Football League (NFL); 54% reported being fans of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and 50% were fans of college basketball (Frank, 2000). Continued interest in following and watching sports is evidenced by the growth of the major professional sport leagues in North America, and by the emergence of new teams and leagues, particularly for women's sports. In recent years we have seen the development of new women's leagues including the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA).
The increasing interest in sport and the emergence of new sports and leagues has created greater competition for sport consumers. The people who attend games, watch games on television, and who purchase merchandise are a vital component of any team's success and survival. Emerging teams and leagues work to first develop a fan base, and then along with existing teams, concentrate on maintaining a fan base. The necessity of developing and maintaining a viable base of sport fans has stimulated a variety of research. Quick (2000) noted that research to date has come in large part from a sport marketing perspective and focused on the demographic characteristics of fans in an effort to understand reasons for attendance (e.g., Ashley & Song, 1995; Gauthier & Hansen, 1993; Hansen & Gauthier, 1994). Researchers of another body of work have focused on the behaviors of sport fans relative to their identification with a sports team (e.g., Murrell & Dietz, 1992; Wann & Branscombe, 1995; Wann & Dolan, 1994). The following section is a brief synopsis of the research on sport consumers.
Research on Sport Consumers
Prior researchers of sport marketing have centered principally on the topic of sport demand and have examined the effect of economic factors, promotions, and residual preference factors (e.g., scheduling of games, new arenas, accessibility) on attendance at sporting events, and the relationship between sociodemographic variables and watching sports (Baade & Tiehen, 1990; Greenstein & Marcum, 1981; Hansen & Gauthier, 1989; Schofield, 1983; Zhang, Pease, Hui, & Michaud, 1995). Sport marketers have used their findings to profile consumer segments and develop promotional strategies. Researchers of sport demand have not, however, provided insight on the intrapersonal reasons for watching and following sports, a better understanding of how sport consumption satisfies an individual's social and psychological needs. …