Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

Is Fantasy Trumping Reality? the Redefined National Football League Experience of Novice Fantasy Football Participants

Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

Is Fantasy Trumping Reality? the Redefined National Football League Experience of Novice Fantasy Football Participants

Article excerpt

Introduction

From a media perspective, the contemporary sport fan has never had it better. On any given Sunday in the fall, one has the ability to watch eight live National Football League (NFL) games at once on a 70" High Definition television while streaming four others to a tablet via DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go. At the same time, one could listen to the in- car audio of the NASCAR race, digitally record a National Hockey League (NHL) game while following and being part of the World Series conversation on Twitter. Meanwhile, there is still the ability to stream live coverage of the one-hole Ryder Cup playoff directly to a laptop while also texting vigorously back and forth with a fantasy football opponent about a controversial touchdown celebration.

With all these options, mediated sport fans have several choices to ensure they make the most of their limited amount of disposable time and money. What to watch? What to listen to? What platform to use? What to subscribe to? What package to pay for? Who to communicate with? What to say and with what medium to say it? The list could go on and on. Given the growing importance of multimedia rights and broadcast ratings, the results of these choices create time-sensitive and money-dependent patterns of behavior that ultimately fuel or destroy sport products. Thus, from a marketing and management perspective, understanding the mediated consumer decision making process within today's highly- cluttered sport marketplace is at a premium (Pritchard & Funk, 2006).

One means for examining consumer decision-making is through the application and analysis of Fazio, Powell, and Herr's (1983) attitude-behavior relationship framework. As a theoretical model, this relationship has been examined extensively in the areas of psychology, social psychology, marketing, and advertising for decades (e.g., Cleveland, Kalamas, & Laroche, 2005; Fazio, Powell, & Williams, 1989; Kokkinaki, 1999; LeBel, 2010). In addition, according to Foxall (1990), this extension of cognitive psychology is widely-accepted as the dominant paradigm for understanding contemporary consumer behavior.

One growing form of professional sport consumption is fantasy sports participation, and within the last decade, the activity has emerged as a captivating context for sport consumer inquiry due to the population's avid, yet atypical consumption behavior (Lomax, 2006). Through the application of Fazio et al.'s (1983) attitude-behavior relationship framework, Drayer, Shapiro, Dwyer, Morse, and White (2010) created a conceptual model for explaining the relationship between fantasy football participation and the consumption of NFL products and services.

The model suggested that fantasy football participation led to an altered perception of the NFL and enhanced consumption of related media products and services (see Figure 1). Grounded in the same framework, the purpose of the current chapter was to extend Drayer et al.'s conceptual framework by uniquely exploring the relationship between novice fantasy football participants' attitudes and behaviors with respect to televised NFL games.

Novice participants were defined as individuals with less than three years of fantasy football experience. This population was explicitly targeted so the participants could more clearly remember attitudes and behaviors associated with participating and not participating in the activity. Television viewership was chosen as the behavioral outcome due to its importance in explaining sport consumer attitudes (Mahony & Moorman, 1999), its prevalence in our society, and its significance as an output of fantasy sports participation (Drayer et ah, 2010; Dwyer, 2011b; Nesbit & King, 2010).

Review of Literature

Fantasy Sports

In recent years, fantasy sports participants, in particular fantasy football, have begun to receive more and more attention from marketers, media providers, broadcasters, and academics as the industry has blossomed into an $800 million a year business (Fantasy Sports Trade Association [FSTA], 2008). …

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