Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Investigating an Evolving Leisure Experience: Antecedents and Consequences of Spectator Affect during a Live Sporting Event

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Investigating an Evolving Leisure Experience: Antecedents and Consequences of Spectator Affect during a Live Sporting Event

Article excerpt


Imagine arriving at a neighbor's house where you and a group of other alumni are going to watch a telecast of a game featuring your alma mater's basketball team. At this point in the season, each game's outcome has implications for post-season play. After getting settled, you look around the room and notice a number of different conversations in progress. Pat, a lifelong fan of the team, and Chris are talking about the upcoming game. Pat is visibly "up" for the game and is talking passionately about how exciting it will be. Chris, on the other hand, appears far less anxious over the implications associated with the outcome and even seems a little bored with having to watch the game.

Immediately upon tip-off, your team scores three unanswered baskets to go up by six points. Pat is "psyched" and telling anyone who will listen how brilliantly the team is performing. Chris also seems pleased, but is far from ecstatic. By halftime, however, the team's fortunes have turned. The team is now trailing by 19 points and has performed very poorly. Pat, at this point, is clearly agitated. Throughout the second quarter, Pat is openly frustrated and angry at the players for missing so many scoring opportunities and playing so poorly on defense. In contrast, Chris's emotional reactions while watching the same action are far more sedate.

During the second half of the game, your alma mater's team has played progressively better and has pulled to within one point with seconds remaining on the clock. On an inbound pass, your team's star player steals the ball and is driving for what appears to be an easy lay-up and the win. However, fifteen feet from the basket he inexplicably trips over his own shoe laces, loses the ball, and your team ends up losing by a single point.

The preceding typifies Tinsley and Tinsley's (1986; see also Vogt & Stewart, 1998) contention that leisure is frequently characterized by ongoing experiences marked by covarying cognitive and affective (i.e., both positive and negative emotions) elements. Consideration of the temporal domain is important because it sheds valuable insight on the very essence of consumed leisure. By consumed leisure, I refer to lived recreational experiences that unfold naturally over time. It is somewhat surprising to note how little research has been reported examining people during the process of leisure consumption in spite of the evolving nature of most recreational activities. Reminiscent of the seminal work of Clawson and Knetsch (1966), the current study treats leisure as a dynamic phenomenon with a distinct temporal dimension. Although not adhering to a strict Clawsonian framework, the paper builds on its spirit by viewing a leisure experience as a process rather than a static event to be summarily evaluated at its conclusion.

Research has considered leisure experiences extending over multiple days (Hultsman, 1998; Lee, Datillo, & Howard, 1994; McIntyre & Roggenbuck, 1998; Vogt & Stewart, 1998) and over the course of a single day (Hull, Stewart, & Yi, 1992; Stewart & Hull, 1992). However, no studies were found focusing on the antecedents, in-situ emotions, and evaluative processes occurring during a single leisure experience. The type of leisure behavior considered in this study is spectators' consumption of sporting events. In contrast to participatory activities, watching a sporting event is passive and exemplifies Shivers (1979) definition of leisure as "a time of opportunity wherein the individual has the freedom to perceive and select experiences which are either worthwhile or simply gratifying" (p. 15).

The purpose of this study is to develop and test a model of sporting event consumption. It considers the extent to which spectators' summary judgments following a particular game are influenced by their emotions during the game and whether these emotions can be predicted by their pregame expectations and preferences. …

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