Sports fandom consists of cognitive and affective, as well as behavioural components. Existing sports fan research utilises either strong qualitative, or more often, strong quantitative methodologies. The strengths and weaknesses of each approach are outlined, developing the argument that the use of a single methodology often fails to explore all of these components. The use of a mixed methods approach is suggested to counteract this weakness and to enhance research into the sports fan. Introduction
Although interest in the sports fan dates back to the beginning of this century, there is little empirical research on the subject (Burca, Brannick, & Meenaghan, 1996; Duke, 1991; Wann & Hamlet, 1995). Existing work has tended to favour quantitative methodologies (such as Branscombe & Wann, 1991, 1992; Hirt, Zillman, Erickson, & Kennedy, 1992; Iso-Ahola, 1980; Lee, 1980; Madrigal, 1995; Miller, 1976; Schurr, Wittig, Ruble, & Ellen, 1987; SNCCFR, 1996; 1997; Wakefield & Sloan, 1995; Wann & Branscombe, 1993). By contrast, qualitative research on the sports fan is extremely rare (such as Armstrong, 1998; Dunning, Murphy, Williams, 1987; King, 1997; Marsh, Rosser, & Harre, 1978). Although some investigations do show elements of combining qualitative and quantitative methods, few, if any, existing studies of the sports fan adopt the mixed methods approach as an explicit research strategy. This paper argues that such an approach is a worthwhile means for gaining a fuller understanding of the sports fan.
The choice of research design must be appropriate to the subject under investigation (Patton, 1987). Thus, the nature of sports fandom will have implications for the choice of suitable methodology. Those authors who define sports fandom (Branscombe & Wann, 1992; Guttman, 1986; Pooley, 1978) all stress that cognitive and affective, as well as behavioural components are significant. These dimensions are also noted by other authors ( Lee & Zeiss, 1980; Madrigal 1995; Miller, 1976), and summarised by Pooley (1978, p. 14), who states that
whereas a spectator of sport will observe a spectacle and forget it very quickly, the fan continues his interest until the intensity of feeling toward the team becomes so great that parts of every day are devoted to either his team or in some instances, to the broad realm of the sport itself. It seems reasonable to suggest, therefore, that fandom comprises more than simply attending and observing a sporting event. Rather, being a fan "represents an association from which the individual derives considerable emotional and value significance" (Madrigal, 1995, pp. 209-210). This acknowledgement that sports fandom consists of more than overt behaviour has important implications for the choice of research methodology.
Quantitative Research and the Sports Fan
Quantitative research designs are characterised by the assumption that human behaviour can be explained by what may be termed "social facts", which can be investigated by methodologies that utilise "the deductive logic of the natural sciences" (Horna, 1994, p. 121). Quantitative investigations look for "distinguishing characteristics, elemental properties and empirical boundaries" (p. 121) and tend to measure "how much", or "how often" (Nau, 1995). They are appropriate to examine the behavioural component of sports fandom, such as attendance at games.
A quantitative research design allows flexibility in the treatment of data, in terms of comparative analyses, statistical analyses, and repeatability of data collection in order to verify reliability. The advantages of a quantitative approach are demonstrated by the research carried out into the English "Premier League" football fan (SNCCFR, 1996, 1997). This survey- based study produced broad data across a large fan population at Premier League clubs, allowing the behavioural patterns of the English...
References: Armstrong, G. (1998). Football hooligans. Oxford: Berg.
Branscombe, N., & Wann, D. (1991). The positive social and self concept consequences of sports team identification. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 15, 1.
Branscombe, N., & Wann, D. (1992). Role of identification with a group, arousal, categorisation processes and self-esteem in sports spectator aggression. Human Relations, 45(10), 1013-1033.
Burca, S., Brannick, T., & Meenaghan, T. (1996). Spectators as consumers: A relationship marketing approach. Conference Proceedings Fourth European Congress on Sport Management. Montpellier 1996.
Creswell, J. (1994). Research design: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. London: Sage.
Duke, V. (1991). The sociology of football: A research agenda for the 1990 's. Sociological Review, 39(3), 627-645.
Dunning, E., Murphy, P., & Williams, J. (1988). The roots of football hooliganism. London: Routledge.
Guttman, A. (1986). Sports spectators. New York: Columbia University Press.
Hirt, E., Zillman, D., Erickson, G., & Kennedy, C. (1992). The costs and benefits of allegiance: Changes in fans self-ascribed competencies after team victory versus team defeat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 724-738.
Horna, J. (1994). The study of leisure. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Iso-Ahola, S. (1980). Attributed determinants of decisions to attend football games. Scandinavian Journal of Sport Science, 2(2), 39-46.
Jayaratne, T. (1993). Quantitative methodology and feminist research. In M. Hammersley (Ed.), Social research: Philosophy, politics and practice (pp. 109-123). London: Sage.
King, A. (1997). The lads: Masculinity and the new consumption of football. Sociology, 31(2), 329-346.
Lee, M. (1985). Self esteem and social identity in basketball fans. Journal of Sports Behaviour, 8(4), 210-223.
Lee, A., & Zeiss, C. (1980). Behavioural commitment to the role of sport consumer: An exploratory analysis. Sociology and Social Research, 64(3), 405-419.
Madrigal, R. (1995). Cognitive and affective determinants of fan satisfaction with sporting event attendance. Journal of Leisure Research, 27(3), 205-227.
Marsh, P., Rosser, E., & Harre, R. (1978). The rules of disorder. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Maykut, P., & Morehouse, R. (1994). Beginning qualitative research: A philosophic and practical guide. London: Falmer Press.
Miller, S. (1976). Personality correlates of football fandom. Journal of Human Behaviour, 13(4), 7-13.
Murrell, A., & Dietz, B. (1992). Fan support of sports teams: The effect of a common group identity. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 14, 28-39.
Nau, D. (1995, December). Mixing Methodologies: Can Bimodal Research be a Viable Post-Positivist Tool? The Qualitative Report [On-line serial], 2 (3), Available: http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR2-3/nau.html
Pooley, J. (1978). The sport fan: A social psychology of misbehaviour. Calgary: CAPHER Sociology of Sport Monograph Series.
Schurr, K., Wittig, A., Ruble, V., & Ellen, A. (1987). Demographic and personality characteristics associated with persistent, occasional, and non-attendance of university male basketball games by college students. Journal of Sport Behaviour, 11, 3-17.
SNCCFR. (1996). F. A. Premier League surveys. Leicester: Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research, University of Leicester.
SNCCFR. (1997). F. A. Premier League surveys. Leicester: Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research, University of Leicester.
Reason, P., & Rowan, J. (1981). Human inquiry: A sourcebook of new paradigm research. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.
Wakefield, K., & Sloan, H. (1995). The effects of team loyalty and selected stadium factors on spectator attendance. Journal of Sport Management, 9, 153-172.
Wann, D., & Branscombe, N. (1993). Sports fans: Measuring degree of identification with their team. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 24, 1-17.
Wann, D., & Dolan, T. (1994). Influence of spectator 's identification on evaluation of past, present and future performance of a sports team. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 78, 547-552.
Wann, D., & Hamlet, M. (1995). Author and subject gender in sport research. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 26, 225-232.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document