| | |A key reason sports brands are so successful is the relationship they have with each of their consumers, or fans. Being a sports fan—and | |loving a team brand—transcends a person’s job, family or social status. “Fans experience pleasure and satisfaction with successful teams,” | |writes Baylor University marketing professor Kirk L. Wakefield in his book, Team Sports Marketing, “but, they also experience feelings of | |delight or excitement that deeply resonates within the identity of the individual fan, such that the effects are likely to be long-term. … | |Sports teams develop a faithful fanatical following primarily due to high levels of identification…” | |It is this identification that professional and amateur leagues in general, and teams in particular, play on (or prey upon). Wakefield | |points out that a dedicated sports fan has “an enduring involvement with the sport and situational involvement with the event.” A fanatical | |soccer fan, for example, will have “an ongoing interest or concern with the sport on a day-to-day basis.” That same fan, if dedicated to a | |particular team, will also watch or attend games, check scores online, follow the team’s star players and buy team merchandise. This is the | |kind of brand involvement some product brands can only dream about. | | | | | | | | | | | |Identifying with a particular team brand is a strong fan motivator. “Highly identified fans are likely to Bask In Reflected Glory [BIRG] by | |doing such things as wearing team-identifying apparel after a team win, describing team wins in terms of what ‘we’ did, and, in general, | |seeking to enhance their public image by connecting with positive aspects of the team,” Wakefield writes. “The result of BIRGing is | |enhancing self-esteem in the highly identified fan.” According to Wakefield, the more identified a fan becomes, the higher the level of his | |or her team involvement. | |Incredibly, Wakefield writes, “identification with a sports team seems to shield against the potential consequences of death…evidence | |suggests that one’s identification and involvement with a sports team in some ways makes the highly identified fan feel immortal.” Now | |that’s the ultimate in brand loyalty. | |There is a hierarchy of sports brand fanaticism. Some fans of a particular sport might identify with a league or association, such as the | |International Soccer League, the NBA (National Basketball Association) or NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing). Others | |might identify with different sports under the same umbrella brand, such as the Olympics or the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic | |Association). Or fans might be intent on supporting a single team brand,...
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