Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Cause-Related versus Non-Cause-Related Sport Events: Differentiating Endurance Events through a Comparison of Athletes' Motives

Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Cause-Related versus Non-Cause-Related Sport Events: Differentiating Endurance Events through a Comparison of Athletes' Motives

Article excerpt


There are more than 5,300 sanctioned running events and almost 3,500 sanctioned multisport events in the United States (USA Triathlon, 2011; USA Track and Field, 2011). Additionally, countless unsanctioned events are held each week across the nation resulting in a saturated sport event marketplace inundating the consumer with choices. In order to survive in this mar- ket, differentiation becomes a key strategy for each sport event. Price, sport, and distance, among other event features, can be manipulated in an attempt to differentiate one event from another. Yet the quest for differentiation in this regard is limited, as participants have come to expect certain levels of standardization associated with the race itself at each event, thus event organizers must search for strategies within the ancil- lary qualities of the event that are distinct.

Endurance athletes select events for many different reasons, including race attributes such as: the sport, the distance, pre- and post-race activities, race size, race location, race reputation, and the challenge of the course (Moore, 2012; Stein, 2011). Many people also participate in cause-related races to help raise money for a non-profit organization. Cause can be an effective tool to attach more meaning to an event, and thus attract participants (Filo, Funk, & O'Brien, 2009). Sport event organizers can use this information to align with a cause and perhaps capitalize on the impor- tance of social purposes to consumers. By aligning a sport event and charity, organizers can leverage the relationship with a charitable foundation to elevate the event, create awareness for the cause, and attract those that support the cause by donating a portion of an event's proceeds to the non-profit organization (Filo et al., 2009).

Athletes are motivated to participate in various events for different reasons, including those for leisure purposes, such as a desire to pursue a healthy lifestyle, and for altruistic purposes (Bennett, Mousely, Kitchin, & Ali-Choudhury, 2007). Fulfilling both leisure (i.e., intellect, social interaction, and competency) and char- itable motives (i.e., reciprocity, self-esteem, need to help others, and desire to improve the charity), can be attractive to event attendees (Filo, Funk, & O'Brien, 2008).

Despite extensive research, a direct comparison between cause and non-cause-related events has yet to be made. In regards to cause-related events, athletes have been found to participate for leisure and giving motivations (see Bennett et al., 2007; Filo et al., 2008; Taylor & Shanka, 2008; Won, Park, & Turner, 2010), but it is unclear whether cause-related events fulfill dif- ferent leisure needs than non-cause-related events. Without exploring how these two types of events relate to each other, it is impossible to understand how align- ing with a cause affects the attractiveness of the event to participants. The purpose of this study, then, was to compare the important motivations to participate in cause-related and non-cause-related sport events to better understand how charity relations can differenti- ate an endurance event from their competitors.

Literature Review

Motivations to Participate in Leisure

Motivation is the internal drive that guides a person's behavior (Iso-Ahola, 1982; Roberts, 1992), and has been examined in many contexts-including leisure. Human behavior is often driven by the fulfillment of basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment-type needs (Maslow,1954). Crompton and McKay (1997) claimed we need to distinguish between our internal and exter- nal needs. Internal needs originate within ourselves and push towards behavior, while others are externally driven, pulling toward an attraction. The push-pull framework (Crompton & McKay, 1997; Dann, 1981) seems particularly relevant when examining events, as event elements can pull people in to compete and internal motivations can push people to fulfill specific needs through event participation. …

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