Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Measuring the Multidimensional Nature of Sporting Event Performance Consumption

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Measuring the Multidimensional Nature of Sporting Event Performance Consumption

Article excerpt


The consumption of leisure activities is experiential in nature and involves absorbing the symbolic meanings associated with more subjective characteristics. The consumption phenomena itself is multifaceted and its pleasures intrinsic. The current paper investigates the consumption of a skill performance which is defined as one that is witnessed by an audience either directly or indirectly via media, and whose outcome relies on the abilities of the actors charged with delivering the performance (Deighton, 1992). Contests are a type of skill performance in which competitors seek to demonstrate excellence in the hope of attaining a favorable outcome (Barthes, 1972). The type of contested skill performance considered here is the consumption of competitive sporting events. In 2001, Americans spent an estimated $26 billion on attending sporting events and North American companies invested nearly $34 billion in sports-based sponsorships and advertising (Sports Business Journal, December 20, 2002). Yet, in spite of its economic impact, little is known about the dimensions underlying the experience of sporting event consumption. Most work on the topic has either been conceptual in nature (Sloan, 1989; Zillmann & Paulus, 1993) or focused on spectators' motives for watching sports (Gantz and Wenner, 1991; Wann, 1995) rather than on the consumption experience itself. Madrigal (2003) provided a description of the antecedents and consequences of a live sporting event as it transpired, but did not address those specific aspects of sporting events that are attended to by fans during consumption.

The purpose of this study is twofold. First, a general definition of skill performance consumption is provided within a broader nomological network. A brief discussion of related yet different theoretical constructs is also offered. The discussion is then narrowed so as to focus on the specific context of skill performance considered here, sporting events. Second, the article outlines the development of a set of parsimonious scales, henceforth referred to collectively as FANDIM, designed to measure the underlying dimensions of sporting event consumption.

The Consumption of Skill Performance

Deighton (1992) described skill performances such as sporting events or jury trials as staged displays of competence occurring in naturalistic settings that emphasize the event's realism. This differs from a show performance (e.g., theatre) that is contrived for the audience's benefit, occurs in an artificial setting and emphasizes elements of fantasy. Although the role of the observer in both types of performance is as a witness to the action rather than as a direct participant, the outcome of a show performance is usually predictable or ritualistic whereas skill performance is characterized by tension and uncertainty about the eventual outcome.

Skill performance consumption, therefore, refers to the manner in which a spectator (an attendee or media consumer) interacts with the witnessed action that occurs during an event for which the outcome is uncertain. It is conceptualized as a multifaceted phenomenon that underlies the nature of a spectator's experience. Rather than focusing on the transitional and evolving affective states likely to arise during a performance (see Madrigal, 1995, 2003), the perspective used here considers the dimensions underlying consumption to be enduring. A spectator who appreciates the aesthetic quality of a gymnastics meet, for instance, should attend to this facet of consumption regardless of her emotional arousal while watching. It is possible, however, that a spectator's appraisal of aesthetic quality may contribute to specific emotions.

Related Concepts

The facets of a skill performance attended to by a spectator during consumption are thought to be different than affective reactions. So too are they thought to be different than involvement which refers to a person's attention to some object because of its perceived relevance or importance (see Havitz & Dimanche, 1999 for a review). …

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