Soccer Fans' Motivation as a Predictor of Participation in Soccer-Related Activities: An Empirical Examination in Israel

By Cohen, Aaron; Avrahami, Anat | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, July 10, 2005 | Go to article overview

Soccer Fans' Motivation as a Predictor of Participation in Soccer-Related Activities: An Empirical Examination in Israel


Cohen, Aaron, Avrahami, Anat, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


This study tested the applicability of the Sport Fan Motivation Scale (SFMS) developed by Wann (1995) in the Israeli soccer setting. The study examined whether the scale can be applied to soccer specifically, not just to sport in general. It also tested the predictive validity of the SFMS by developing a scale of participation in soccer activities and examined several hypotheses regarding its relationship to the SFMS. The sample consisted of 327 high school students in the north of Israel (an 86% response rate). The findings showed that the SFMS predicted a significant amount of variance of participation in soccer activities. Results of regression analyses showed that eustress (positive stress), self-esteem, group, and aesthetic motivations were strongly related to active participation in soccer activities. Entertainment, self-esteem, and economic motivations were strongly related to passive participation in soccer activities. The findings are discussed in terms of their conceptual and practical contributions.

Sport has become a major attraction within the leisure and tourism industries. Hence, studies of the motivation behind participation in sport and leisure activities are of increasing interest to both sport professionals and members of the tourist and leisure industries who are interested in sport and leisure planning and marketing development (Recours, Souville, & Griffet, 2004). Social science research on sport distinguishes three dimensions of sport involvement: the behavioral dimension, the cognitive dimension, and the tendency dimension (Snyder & Spreitzer, 1973). Each of these dimensions can include more than one type of involvement. For example, the behavioral involvement in sport can take two forms: 1) direct participation in sport activity, and 2) participation as a spectator or a fan by reading about sport and watching games on television or at the stadium. Earlier studies have shown that there are economic, social, and psychological predispositions to these types of leisure time activities (Snyder & Spreitzer, 1976).

This study focused on participation through the spectator's role. Watching sport represents a predominant form of leisure behavior in today's society. A large number of people attend sporting events and think of themselves as sport fans (James & Ridinger, 2002). Ascertaining the factors that motivate individuals to watch sport is a theoretical and practical challenge for sport researchers and practitioners (Armstrong, 2002). Many studies have dealt with the sport spectator phenomenon and with behavior of fans and spectators. Some studies have focused on the outcomes of spectatorship, examining the socialization processes and motivation patterns that lie behind this form of leisure behavior (Gaskell & Pearton, 1979; Zillman, Bryant, & Sapolsky, 1979). Other studies have focused on the factors related to the sources and stability of spectators' identification with a particular team (Moody, 1997; Wann, 2000; Wann, Tucker, & Schrader, 1996; Wann & Wilson, 1999a; Wann & Wilson, 1999b).

This study focused on a concept that has attracted much attention in sport literature, namely fans' motivations, and uses a scale developed by Wann (1995) and validated by Wann, Schrader, and Wilson (1999). The scale has been widely used in the attempts to better understand sport fan motivation. To that end, studies have utilized various correlates of the Sport Fan Motivation Scale (SFMS). Some have examined how different demographic characteristics such as gender, race, and marital status are related to sport fan motivation (Bilyeu & Wann, 2002; James & Ridinger, 2002; Wann & Ensor, 2001; Wann, Lane, & Duncan, 1998; Wann & Wilson, 1999a). Other research examined how sport fan motivation is related to a preference for various types of sport (Wann, Schrader, & Wilson, 1999; Wann & Wilson, 1999a, 1999b).

This study, by examining soccer fan motivation is Israel, made two contributions to research in the field. …

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