Project

Know Rivalry

Goal: The Know Rivalry (KR) Project is the source for rivalry data and analysis that combines academic rigor with industry insights. KR has surveyed thousands of sports fans across several major leagues and intercollegiate conferences as part of an ongoing research collaboration involving professors, students, and alumni from various partner universities. The KR Project has published research analysis of rivalries in several peer-reviewed academic journals and presented findings at conferences on four continents.

Date: 31 May 2012

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Project log

Joe Cobbs
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The Know Rivalry (KR) Project is the source for rivalry data and analysis that combines academic rigor with industry insights. KR has surveyed thousands of sports fans across several major leagues and intercollegiate conferences as part of an ongoing research collaboration involving professors, students, and alumni from various partner universities. The KR Project has published research analysis of rivalries in several peer-reviewed academic journals and presented findings at conferences on four continents.
 
Joe Cobbs
added a research item
Emotion impacts fans' information processing and evaluation of sport sponsors. This paper examines the emotion of schadenfreude (joy at others' misfortune) within rivalry contests under a cognition-emotion theoretical framework. Study 1 assesses the relationships between appraisals of 11 rivalry antecedents and schadenfreude using survey data from 5,459 fans across six sport leagues. Results show that unfairness and cultural difference have the strongest association with schadenfreude. Study 2 utilizes an experimental design involving 543 fans of professional teams in four US-based rivalries. Findings show positive effects of schadenfreude on fans' reactions to the sponsor, mediated by perceived sincerity of the sponsoring brand. Specifically, emotionally-engaged fans (based on heightened schadenfreude) see sponsor support as more sincere, which enhances fan interest, favorability, and intended consumption of the brand. Implications for sponsors include recognizing how activation tactics in affiliation with rivalry games may circumvent the drawbacks of sponsoring just one side of a rivalry.
Joe Cobbs
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Purpose - This paper examines how reference to a rival or favorite sports team within cause-related sports marketing (CRSM) campaigns affects fans' intentions to support the cause. The purpose of the studies is to assess the perils of featuring a specific team in league-wide activations of cause-related marketing. Design/methodology/approach - The research comprises three experiments. Study 1 employs CRSM advertising to test fans' responses when rival or hometown team imagery is featured by Major League Baseball (MLB). Studies 2 and 3 utilize a press release to activate a cause partnership in MLB and the National Basketball Association (NBA) and assess the potential influence of team involvement and schadenfreude toward the rival team. Findings - Contrary to previous research, results demonstrate that rival team presence in league-wide activation can reduce intentions to support the cause effort across both leagues, but not in all circumstances. The influence of rival team exposure on perceived sincerity is moderated by team involvement with the cause in MLB, but not the NBA. However, sincerity consistently enhances cause support across all studies. While conditional effects of schadenfreude are noted, it is not a significant moderator of cause support. Research limitations/implications - This research exposes the nuance of league-wide CRSM activations. Specifically, the rival team effect on perceived sincerity seems to be league dependent, and subject to team involvement with the cause. Moreover, these results are limited to the leagues studied. Practical implications - League administrators and their cause-related partners should exercise due diligence when promoting their affiliation using specific teams and levels of involvement with the cause. Originality/value - These studies produce results that differ from the limited prior research within the domain of league-wide CRSM, and therefore advance the conversation regarding how best to activate such campaigns.
Joe Cobbs
added a research item
This chapter provides a foundation for those new to rivalry inquiry. First, it introduces seminal social psychology concepts, such as group identity, social identity theory, social categorization theory, and ingroup/outgroup formation. Next, the chapter explains three properties of rivalry and the 100-point single-item measure of rivalry intensity. Study 1 examines these in new leagues (MLB, MLS, NBA), finding robust support for rivalry as 1) non-exclusive (fans perceive multiple rivals), 2) continuous in scale (intensity varies among rivals), and 3) bidirectional (opposing fans rarely share equivalent perceptions of the rivalry). Study 2 explains 11 rivalry antecedents and investigates their manifestation within five sport leagues (MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL). These are, in descending order of influence: frequency of play, defining moments, recent parity, star factors, geography, relative dominance, historical parity, competition for personnel, cultural difference, unfairness, and cultural similarity. The authors close by noting limitations and future directions for rivalry research.
B. David Tyler
added a research item
This essay utilizes empirically derived rivalry antecedents as an analytical framework to encapsulate the basis of a selection of enduring football club rivalries in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. The inclusive cases (rivalries) in this study were selected based on longevity as well as the presence of key rivalry antecedents which, in the end, allow for rich contextualized descriptions. The authors make connections between salient rivalry antecedents and existing literature about the clubs to provide descriptions of the spatial, historical and cultural foundations of competing ideologies and assertions of identity that define and give meaning to the rivalries.
Joe Cobbs
added a research item
Spectator sports embody social group conflict, where consumers periodically interact with opposing fans, thereby providing outlets for negative brand affect in the form of acrimony toward rivals. To assess the regional nature of rivalry, this study compared 5,145 sports consumers across the four United States Census regions and Canada, including five professional leagues. Consistent with regional personality clustering, fans of Canadian teams harbor less acrimony toward rivals, and fans of teams in the Northeastern US generally exhibit the most acrimony. When developing events and promotional partnerships, sports marketers and sponsors should recognize regional differences in how consumers react to rivals.
Joe Cobbs
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Previous research on sports rivalry has emphasized fans’ social identity and the threat posed by rivals. Much of this scholarship is based on intercollegiate sports, where many fans, such as students and alumni, have a formally defined identity with the university. In this study, fans (N = 4,828) across five major professional leagues—MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, and NHL—are surveyed to compare their animosity toward rivals based on four variables: schadenfreude, disidentification, prejudice, and relationship discrimination against rivals. The results consistently demonstrate that NFL fans harbor significantly greater animosity toward rivals than their counterparts in other leagues. Apart from the NFL, fans of NHL teams generally exhibit more animosity compared to other leagues, and NBA fans exhibit the least. While fan identification is relatively consistent across leagues, highly identified fans react more adversely to rivals. These differences in rivalry reactions have implications for promotional planning and event security protocol.
B. David Tyler
added a research item
Although the concept of rivalry is widely recognized as a contributing factor to consumer demand for sporting events, who constitutes a rival and to what degree rivalry influences attendance remains vague. Previous demand models consistently included rivalry as an explanatory variable but represented rivalry in inconsistent ways that often violated rivalry’s core properties (i.e., non-exclusive, continuous in scale, and bidirectional). This study reviews past specifications for rivalry and tests multiple rivalry variables, including a 100-point allocation measure that conforms to rivalry’s core properties, in attendance demand models for both Major League Soccer and the National Hockey League. Results across models generally favor the 100-point measure to represent the special attention fans give to certain opponents. This fan-derived rivalry representation offers researchers, marketers, event managers, and sponsors a more complete picture of rivalry as related to demand estimation for purposes such as promotional planning, game scheduling, and event security protocol.
B. David Tyler
added a research item
The concept of rivalry is nearly ubiquitous across sports, and although the term “rival” appears frequently in academic work, researchers have not applied a consistent approach to determine what constitutes a rival. The purpose of this research is to identify key characteristics of a rivalry and the antecedents to rivalry formation. Also explored are the behavioral outcomes of a rivalry and, specifically, how individuals react toward a rival team and its fans. This initialization of a more rigorous conceptualization of rivalry began with a qualitative inquiry to set the foundation for a subsequent survey. Structural equation modeling was employed to analyze the potential indicators and outcomes of sports rivalry that emerged from the survey.
Joe Cobbs
added 4 research items
Data at www.KnowRivalry.com; Central to the conceptualization of rivalry is the process of social categorization and seeing the self and others as members of ingroups and outgroups. For some sport fans—especially those deemed highly identified—a favorite team becomes an extension of one’s self, and opposing teams and their fans are seen as dissimilar outgroups. Akin to other definitions, we view a rival as being a highly salient outgroup that poses an acute threat to the identity of the ingroup. To bring further clarity and consistency to the rivalry discussion, we quantify the perceived rivalries within a closed network of organizations by surveying college football fans (n=5,317) from 122 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, or Division I-A) teams using on an online questionnaire posted on 194 fan message boards. Through employing social network analysis (SNA), we graphically map rivalry scores in Netdraw and conduct further statistical analysis via UCINET SNA software. The network analysis results are most interesting when viewed graphically as nodes (universities) with bi-directional ties among them of various magnitude. In the study, we employ SNA measures of ego networks, centrality and power to reveal insights about the nature of rivalry.
Research question: Despite pervasive attention to the concept of rivalry, there is neither uniform definition nor universal understanding. The purpose of this paper is to explore sport rivalry and derby matches from the fan perspective and identify the most influential elements that characterize rivalry. Research methods: This work employs a sequential exploratory mixed method design. Study 1 engaged 38 fans through open-ended questions to explicate antecedents to 76 rivalries. Study 2 used an exploratory factor analysis based on survey responses (n=429) that measured a broader sampling of rivalries to quantify the importance of the rivalry elements identified in Study 1. Results and findings: We define a rival group as a highly salient outgroup that poses an acute threat to the identity of the ingroup or to ingroup members’ ability to make positive comparisons between their group and the outgroup. Study 1 identified 11 recurring elements of rivalry: frequency of competition, defining moment, recent parity, historical parity, star factors, geography, relative dominance, competition for personnel, cultural similarity, cultural difference, and unfairness. Study 2 confirmed these elements within three primary dimensions: Conflict, Peer, and Bias. Implications: Our findings expand rivalry research by recognizing core rivalry antecedents useful for scholars investigating topics such as ticket demand, promotions, and sponsorship strategy. From a managerial perspective, these findings provide guidance to sport entities seeking to leverage rivalry to increase fan interest; conversely, when animosity surrounding a rivalry becomes overheated or violent, better understanding rivalry’s underpinnings can help managers de-emphasize the rivalry’s most salient contributors.
Rivalry is ubiquitous across sports, yet the representation and specification of rivalry varies widely. Such discrepancy poses problems when distinguishing between multiple out-groups and when employing rivalry to explain related questions such as demand for sport consumption. In this paper, we critically examine the many differing conceptions of rivalry and to discern properties of rivalry across different sports. We survey college football fans (N = 5,304) to empirically test the exclusivity, scale, and symmetry of rivalry; then, we replicate the study twice in the context of professional sports (1,649 National Football League fans; 1,435 National Hockey League fans). Results consistently indicate that fans perceive multiple rivals (nonexclusive), rivalry intensity varies among rivals (continuous in scale), and opposing fans rarely share equivalent perceptions of the rivalry (bidirectional). Accordingly, we develop and test a parsimonious 100-point rivalry allocation measure that specifies these three properties of rivalry.