Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

Examining Links between Participant Sport and Spectator Sport: A Case with Tennis Consumers

Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

Examining Links between Participant Sport and Spectator Sport: A Case with Tennis Consumers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Sport consumers are often classified into two groups: (a) sport participants and (b) sport spectators. This is understandable as participant sport and spectator sport are the two major consumption activities in sport (Cohen & Avrahami, 2005; Shamir & Ruskin, 1984). Accordingly, the focus of many past sport consumer studies has been on sport participants or sport spectators. Researchers have paid less attention to examining the relationship between consumers of the two activities (Milne, Sutton, & McDonald, 1996). In general, spectator sport organizations are not interested in getting people to play sports. However, those organizations would be interested in attracting sport participants to become spectators, meaning sport participants are a potential target segment. Similarly, participant sport organizations could view sport spectators as potential customers. Thus, finding links between consumers of the two activities would help sport marketers determine how spectator sports can be marketed to sport participants, and how participant sports can be marketed to spectators.

Links between Consumers of the Two Activities

While a limited number of past studies including theoretical and empirical frameworks are available, there are few studies directly addressing the issue of similarities between these two consumer groups. Some have argued these two groups were totally or mostly unrelated to one another (Burnett, Menon, & Smart, 1993; Milne et al., 1996; Stone, 1971). Some have contended possible relationships existed between the two groups (Lascu, Giese, Toolan, Guehring, & Mercer, 1995; Shank & Beasley, 1998; Sloan, 1985; Zillmann, Bryant, & Sapolsky, 1979). Therefore, it seems researchers have not reached a consensus on whether sport participants and sport spectators share similar consumer characteristics. The limited number of empirical studies examining the links between consumers of the two activities could be a major cause. Accordingly, others have suggested future studies on the issue are necessary (Kenyon & McPherson, 1973; McDonald, Milne, & Hong, 2002; Shamir & Ruskin, 1984).

Motivation toward consuming sport-related activities was the most frequently used factor when examining the issue from various perspectives in the aforementioned studies (Milne et al., 1996; Lascu et al., 1995; Sloan, 1985; Stone, 1971; Zillmann et al., 1979). Also, motivation has been identified as an antecedent variable in the models of sport consumer behavior (Iwasaki & Havitz, 1998; Trail, Anderson, & Fink, 2000). Accordingly, many researchers insist motivation to be a key in understanding sport consumers as it could explain initial insight into the basis of marketing plans (Kahle, Duncan, Vassilis, & Aiken, 2001; Milne & McDonald, 1999; Shank, 2002; Wann, 1995). This may suggest that motivation factors could play an important role when examining the links between consumers of the two activities.

Recognizing consumer motivation as the key factor, previous studies examining the relationship between consumers of the two activities often neglect to consider the effect of sport involvement, which is an individual's perceived personal importance (Shank & Beasley, 1998). This omission is important because past studies found a significant effect of level of sport involvement on consumer motivation (Fink, Trail, & Anderson, 2002; Kuentzel & McDonald, 1992; Lascu et al., 1995; Wann, Royalty, & Rochelle, 2002). For example, Shamir & Ruskin (1984) examined whether sport participation and sport spectatorship share similarities in motivation. They found some motives were commonly important for both playing and watching sports, which indicated possible similarities. The study also found other motives were especially important only for playing or watching, meaning these two activities were less likely overlapped in motivation. However, this study did not consider the effect of sport involvement to comparing the motivation of the two consumer groups. …

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