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Havard, C. T., & Hutchinson, M. (2017). Investigating rivalry in professional sport.

Authors:
Running head: RIVALRY IN PROFESSIONAL SPORT
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Investigating Rivalry in Professional Sport
International Journal of Sport Management, vol. 18, 422-440.
By:
Cody T. Havard, Ph.D. The University of Memphis
Michael Hutchinson, Ph.D. The University of Memphis
Cody T. Havard, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Sport Commerce in the Kemmons Wilson
School of Hospitality and Resort Management at The University of Memphis. His research
interests involve fan and consumer behavior, with a specific focus on how fans perceive rival
teams. Please refer any questions or comments to chavard@memphis.edu.
Michael Hutchinson, Ph.D. an Associate Professor of Sport Commerce at the University of
Memphis. His research interests include management, organizational behavior, escalation of
commitment theory, and branding.
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Investigating Rivalry in Professional Sport
Abstract
The current study used the Sport Rivalry Fan Perception Scale (SRFPS: Havard, Gray, Gould,
Sharp, & Schaffer, 2013) to show that fans of professional sport teams reserved stronger negative
perceptions of their primary rival than their secondary rival team. Further, the current study
found that presence of a rival team impacted fan intentions to consume their favorite team, and
their perceptions of rival teams impacted those intentions. Finally, the current study
quantitatively measured Glory Out of Reflected Failure (GORfing; Havard, 2014). Results
showed that the presence of a primary and secondary rival did not impact fan likelihood to
experience GORFing. However, perceptions of both primary and secondary rival teams
impacted fan likelihood to experience the phenomenon. Theoretical and practical implications
are discussed, and future study introduced.
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In sport, fans identify with favorite teams in order to meet the human need of group
affiliation (Festinger, 1954), feel the success of the favorite team (Bandura, 1977), and to
positively compare to others (Turner, 1975). Rivalry in sport allows someone to find teams and
groups to disidentify from (Elsbach & Bhattacharya, 2001), and provides them with cognitive
and behavioral benefits and consequences. In other words, the presence of rivalry in sport adds
to the excitement fans can experience. Previous studies of sport rivalry have highlighted fan
perceptions of rival teams and groups (Havard, 2014; Havard, Gray, Gould, Sharp, & Schaffer,
2013; Havard, Wann, & Ryan; 2013), antecedents and contributors to the phenomenon (Kilduff,
Elfenbein, & Staw, 2010; Tyler & Cobbs, 2015), the impact of rivalry on fan behavior (Cikara,
Botvinick, & Fiske, 2011; Cikara & Fiske, 2012; Wann & Dolan, 1995; Wann & Grieve, 2005),
and sponsor relations (Bee & Dalakas, 2013; Dalakas & Levin, 2005; Dalakas & Melancon,
2012).
The purpose of the current study was three-fold. First, the current study investigated
differences between fan perceptions of primary and secondary rivals in professional sport.
Second, the current study sought to investigate the impact the presence of a rival team would
have on fans consuming their favorite professional team. To provide additional information for
researchers and practitioners, fan likelihood to consume their favorite professional team was
compared between primary and secondary rival teams. Finally, fan likelihood to experience
Glory Out of Reflected Failure (GORFing; Havard, 2014) was investigated, and the impact of
various levels of team rivalry and rival perceptions measured.
The current study is important to academics and practitioners for a number of reasons.
First, within the context of sport, the investigation of rivalry is a new and relatively understudied
area of research. In other disciplines, rivalry has been one variable or consideration in
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examining the broader topic of competition. And in similar fashion, sport research has used
rivalry as one variable to explain fan behavior. The current study adds to this understudied area
by investigating the impact of the phenomenon on fans of professional sport. Further, most
research on the rivalry phenomenon has used intercollegiate athletics in the United States as its
setting. Therefore, the current study extends and tests previous findings at the professional level.
Second, the current study is an important addition to the sport rivalry literature by addressing the
impact of the phenomenon on fans of professional sport. For example, the current study adds
information on a quantitative measure of GORFing to the sport management literature. Finally,
the current study adds to the literature on fan and group behavior.
The current study is also important for practitioners, as it details how characteristics such
as the presence of varying levels of rival teams impact fan behavior. Additionally, practitioners
could benefit from the current study as it sheds light onto how the presence of a rival team
impacts fan likelihood to consume their favorite team. Further, the inclusion of GORFing will
help practitioners understand how fans react toward their favorite team when a rival team loses
in indirect competition. With the growing importance placed on fan consumption via various
methods, practitioners would be well served to use findings from the current study when
promoting future contests between rival teams.
Background
Social identity theory asserts that people gain some meaning of themselves through their
affiliations with others (Tajfel, 1974). Because of social identity theory, people will affiliate
with groups of others that will reflect positively on themselves (Tajfel, 1982). In sport, this is
typically accomplished when people identify with teams. When someone affiliates with a group,
supporters of a sport team in this instance, many times they can begin to adopt the collective
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identity of said group and in some instances replace their personal identification with that of the
group (Crocker & Luhtanen, 1990). When someone identifies with a group of supporters for a
shared team, they typically interact with supporters of a competing or rival team, resulting in
intergroup relations (Sherif, 1966). Commonly in these situations, in-group bias occurs, which
states that people will treat members of their in-group more favorably than members of the out-
group (Brewer, 1979; Tajfel, 1982). In-group bias can be found in the way group members treat
each other (Sherif, Harvey, White, Hood, & Sherif, 1961) and describe actions of members of
each group (Maass, Salvi, Arcuri, & Semin, 1989; Wann & Dolan, 1994; Wann & Grieve, 2005).
Further, sport fans may derogate a rival to feel part of an in-group (Delia, 2015), and members
within a group can vary in their intensity of in-group bias depending on their membership status
(Jimenez-Moya, Spears, Rodriguez-Bailon, & de Lemus, 2015; Noel, Wann, & Branscombe,
1995).
Rivalry has been defined as “a fluctuating adversarial relationship existing between two
teams, players, or groups of fans, gaining significance through on-field competition, on-field or
off-field incidences, proximity, demographic makeup, and/or historical occurrence(s)” (Havard,
Gray et al., 2013, p. 51). Research by Kilduff, Elfenbein, and Staw (2010), and Tyler and Cobbs
(2015) has identified several antecedents leading to the rivalry phenomenon. These include but
are not limited to frequency of competition, recent and historical parity, geography, cultural
similarities and differences, competition for personnel, and perceived unfairness. Havard and
Eddy (2013) found that sport fans experience an inherent need for rivalry. Additionally, research
in rivalry has found that some fans will rejoice when their rival loses to another team (Cikara et
al., 2011; Cikara & Fiske, 2012; Havard, 2014; Leach, Spears, Branscombe, & Doojse, 2003;
Leach & Spears, 2009), give biased evaluations of favorite and rival fans and teams (Wann &
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Dolan, 1994; Wann & Grieve, 2005; Wann et al., 2006), pay more to attend a rivalry game
(Sanford & Scott, 2016), impact their likelihood to support sponsors of favorite and rival teams
(Dalakas & Levin, 2005; Dalakas & Melancon, 2012; Davies, Veloutsou, & Cost, 2006), and
have a high likelihood to consider committing anonymous acts of aggression toward members
and fans of the rival team (Havard, Wann, & Ryan, 2013; Wann, Haynes, McLeans, & Pullen,
2003; Wann, Peterson, Cothran, & Dykes, 1999; Wann & Waddill, 2013).
The Sport Rivalry Fan Perception Scale (SRFPS) was developed and validated on fans of
intercollegiate football and men’s basketball, and measures fan perceptions of rival teams on four
aspects of the phenomenon (Havard, Gray et al., 2013). Specifically, the SRFPS measures fan
willingness to support a rival team in indirect competition (e.g., championship or out-of-
conference competition; OIC), perceptions of prestige of the rival team’s academics or region
(OP), rival fan behavior (OS), and the sense of satisfaction they experience when their favorite
team defeats their rival team (SoS). The SRFPS has been used at the intercollegiate level to
investigate the impact of team followed and consumption on rivalry (Havard, Reams, & Gray,
2013), impact of team identification and gender (Havard, Eddy, & Ryan, 2016), introduction of a
new team (Havard, Shapiro, & Ridinger, in press), conference realignment (Havard, Wann et al.,
2013), and conference affiliation (Havard, 2016; Havard & Reams, 2016). Further, Wann and
colleagues (in press) used a modified version of the SRFPS to measure the rivalry phenomenon
with fans of intercollegiate and professional sport, and Spinda and Havard (2016) utilized the
scale to investigate the impact of rivalry on fantasy football decisions. The current study is the
first to utilize the full SRFPS to measure rival perceptions at the professional level.
The current study first investigates the impact of degree of rivalry on fan perceptions.
Specifically, fan perceptions of their primary and secondary rivals were compared. Havard et al.
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(in press) and Havard et al. (2016) found fans of intercollegiate athletics were more likely to
consume their favorite team if they were playing a rival than a non-rival team, and the current
study sought to replicate these findings at the professional level. The current study also extends
previous work by measuring the impact of rival perceptions on consumption intentions. Finally,
the current study investigates fan likelihood to experience GORFing following a rival loss to
someone other than the favorite team. GORFing is similar to schadenfreude (Heider, 1958), in
which a person experiences joy at the failure or demise of another. However, investigations of
schadenfreude tend to focus solely on how a rival team’s loss impacts the individual, whereas
GORFing also addresses how a rival loss impacts fan behavior toward their favorite team.
Further, Zillman and Cantor (1976) found that people experience joy when someone they like is
successful and someone they dislike is unsuccessful, and Zillman, Bryant, and Sapolsky (1986)
assert that sport fans rejoice when their favorite team is successful and their rival team is
unsuccessful when the two teams play. Included in this, the current study measures the impact of
presence of primary and secondary rival team and rival perceptions on GORFing.
The Current Study
Much of the existing research into sport rivalry has occurred at the intercollegiate level.
As such, the current study seeks to replicate and add to the research on the phenomenon using
professional sport as the research setting. First, the current study investigates the impact of the
presence of a primary and secondary rival. As such, we expect to find that fans of professional
sport display stronger negative perceptions of their primary rival team than secondary rival team.
H1: Fans will display stronger negative rival perceptions of a primary rival team
than a secondary rival team.
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Regarding intentions of fans to consume their favorite team, research has found that fans
of intercollegiate football were more likely to consume their favorite team when they were
playing a rival team than a non-rival team (Havard, et al., in press; Havard et al., 2016).
Building from these findings, we expect that fans of professional sport will be more likely to
consume their favorite team when playing their primary rival than secondary rival.
H2: Fans will indicate higher likelihood to consume their favorite team via
attendance, watching on television or the Internet, wearing favorite team
merchandise, reading about the favorite team, or purchasing favorite team
merchandise when playing their primary rival rather then their secondary rival.
Finally, Havard et al. (in press) found that rival perceptions can impact fan intentions to consume
their favorite team, and we expect to find similar results.
H3: Fan perceptions of rival teams will influence their likelihood to consume their
favorite team via attendance, watching on television or the Internet, wearing
favorite team merchandise, reading about the favorite team, and purchasing
favorite team merchandise.
The current study also investigates fan likelihood to experience GORFing when a team
they consider a rival loses to another team. In particular, the authors investigated how likelihood
of experiencing GORFing is impacted by playing a primary or secondary rival and the
perceptions fans reserve of rival teams. Because little quantitative investigation of GORFing
exists, research questions were formulated to examine the phenomenon.
RQ1: How is fan likelihood to experience GORFing impacted by (a) the presence of
a primary and secondary rival, and (b) the perceptions of rival teams they reserve?
Methods
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Participants and Instrument
Participants completed an online survey that was created using Qualtrics software and
distributed through Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). MTurk is an online platform that allows
companies and researchers to reach participants to complete tasks and surveys. Participants took
about ten minutes to complete the survey, were paid $.50, and data collection lasted
approximately one week. Because MTurk reaches a large sample, we included control checks to
ensure that sport fans completed the survey. First, participants identified a favorite team and
surveys containing uninterpretable results were removed from the dataset. Next, participants had
to identify a team they believed to be a primary rival and secondary rival to their favorite team.
Again, uninterpretable results were removed before data analysis.
A total of 1,113 participants started the survey, and 768 completed the instrument (69%
completion rate). Following the manipulation checks discussed above, and removing incomplete
surveys, a total of 715 useable surveys were used for data analysis, for a useable response rate of
64.2%. Participants were 60.4% male, 39.4% female, with 0.1% not reporting. Participants
ranged in age from 18 to 74 (M = 33.31, SD = 11.55), were 75.5% Caucasian, and 94% followed
professional teams within the United States.
The survey contained ten sections. First, participants were instructed to identify a
favorite team and complete consumption behaviors toward the favorite team. Next, participants
identified teams they considered to be primary and secondary rivals. Third, team identification
was measured using the Team Identification Index (TII; Trail, Robinson, & Anderson, 2003).
The TII measures fan identification using the 7-point likert scale items (1 = Strongly Disagree to
7 = Strongly Agree). An example TTI item reads, “I consider myself to be a real fan of my
favorite team.” The fourth section asked participants to indicate their perceptions of their
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primary rival using the SRFPS (Havard et al., 2013). The SRFPS contains 12 items that measure
rival perceptions using a 7-point likert scale (1 = Strongly Disagree to 7 = Strongly Agree).
Sample SRFPS questions read, “I would support my rival team in a championship game”, “I feel
the city where the rival team plays is not very prestigious,” “Fans of the rival team demonstrate
poor sportsmanship at games,” and “I feel a sense of accomplishment when my favorite team
beats my rival team.” It is important to note that items measuring fan likelihood to support the
rival team in indirect competition were reverse coded so that a higher score reflected lower
likelihood of doing so. The fifth section included ten questions that asked participants to indicate
their likelihood to attend a favorite team game, watch a favorite team game on television or the
Internet, wear favorite team merchandise, read about the favorite team, and purchase favorite
team merchandise when playing a rival and non-rival team.
The sixth section included three questions that asked participants their likelihood to
experience GORFing. The items were measured using a 7-point likert scale (1 = Strongly
Disagree to 7 = Strongly Agree), and read, “I feel better about myself when my rival team loses
to another team”, “I feel my team is superior to the rival team when the rival loses to another
team,” and “I brag to others about my favorite team when the rival team loses to another team”.
TII, SRFPS, and GORFing descriptive data can be found in Table 1. Sections four, five, and six
were each replicated to allow fans to indicate their responses for the team they considered to be a
secondary rival to their favorite team. Finally, participants were asked demographic questions.
Results
Items for the TII, SRFPS, and GORFing scales were averaged to create one number for
each scale. The scales displayed reliability with α ranging from .818 to .916 (Table 1).
Participants were highly identified with their favorite team (M = 5.67, SD = 1.28). The
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professional league most represented by participants was the National Football League (NFL) (n
= 378, 52.9%), followed by Major League Baseball (MLB) (n = 148, 20.7%), and the National
Basketball Association (NBA) (n = 82, 5.7%). The most represented favorite teams were the
Green Bay Packers (n = 41, 5.7%), the Pittsburgh Steelers (n = 37, 5.2%), and the New York
Yankees (n = 32, 4.5%). The most represented primary rivals were the Chicago Bears (n = 39,
5.5%), the Dallas Cowboys (n = 36, 5.0%), and the Green Bay Packers (n = 34, 4.8%) and the
most represented secondary rivals were the Dallas Cowboys (n = 27, 3.8%), the Minnesota
Vikings (n = 26, 3.6%), and the New York Mets (n = 24, 3.4%). Frequencies for league, favorite
team, primary rival, and secondary rival can be found in Table 2.
Fans were not likely to support their primary rival in indirect competition (M = 5.55, SD
= 1.51), did not believe the prestige of the rival was poor (M = 3.09, SD = 1.52), were neutral
regarding rival fan behavior (M = 4.17, SD = 1.65), and experienced high levels of satisfaction
when their favorite team defeated their rival team (M = 5.75, SD = 1.16). They were slightly
more willing to support their secondary rival in indirect competition (M = 4.96, SD = 1.19),
slightly more negative regarding the prestige of the secondary rival (M = 3.16, SD = 1.65),
believed fans of their secondary rival were better behaved (M = 3.64, SD = 1.59), and
experienced satisfaction when their favorite team defeated their rival team (M = 5.45, SD =
1.34). Finally, participants slightly agreed that they would experience GORFing when the
primary rival (M = 4.67, SD = 1.50) and secondary rival (M = 4.65, SD = 1.56) lost to another
team. Further fans indicated they were highly likely to consume their favorite team when
playing a rival, whether that be primary or secondary, and non-rival team.
Hypothesis 1
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Hypothesis 1 stated that fans would indicate stronger negative perceptions of their
primary rival than secondary rival. Before testing the hypothesis, a Mulitvariate Analysis of
Variance (MANOVA) was run to determine if level of team identification and participant sex
impacted rival perceptions. Significant differences were found for both variables, therefore a
Multivariate Analysis of Covariance (MANCOVA) was run looking for main effects differences
while treating for team identification and participant sex.
Regarding the presence of a primary and secondary rival, significant MANCOVA
differences were present Pillai’s Trace(4, 1417) = 31.99, p < .001. Specifically, significant
differences were present for likelihood to support the rival in out-group competition (F(1, 1420)
= 77.12, p < .001), out-group fan sportsmanship (F(1, 1420) = 97.51, p < .001), and sense of
satisfaction experienced when the favorite team defeated the rival team (F(1, 1420) = 29.52, p <
.00). In each instance, participants indicated higher scores (i.e., strong negative perceptions) for
the primary rival than the secondary rival. No significant differences were present regarding the
prestige of the rival teams (F(1, 1420) = 1.29, p = .446). H1 was partially supported.
Hypothesis 2
Hypothesis 2 in the current study deals with fan intentions to consume their favorite
team. Specifically, fans would be more likely to consume their favorite team when playing the
primary rival than the secondary rival. Before testing H2, a MANOVA was run to determine if
level of team identification and participant sex significantly impacted fan consumption
intentions. Level of team identification caused significant differences, and was used as a
covariate to test for main effects differences. A significant MANCOVA indicated that the
presence of a primary and secondary rival significantly impacted fan intentions to consume their
favorite team Pillai’s Trace (5, 1423) = 2.67, p = .021. Significant differences were present for
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fan intention to consume their favorite team via watching a game on television or the Internet
(F(1, 1427) = 9.33, p = .002), wearing favorite team merchandise (F(1, 1427) = 4.96, p = .026),
and reading about the team (F(1, 1427) = 5.73, p = .017). In each instance, fans were more
likely to consume their favorite team when playing the primary rival than the secondary rival.
Significant differences were not present for game attendance (F(1, 1427) = 0.64, p = .424) and
purchasing favorite team merchandise (F(1, 1427) = 0.05, p = .823). H2 was partially supported
(Table 4).
Hypothesis 3
Hypothesis 3 stated that fan rival perceptions would significantly influence their
likelihood to consume their favorite team via game attendance, watching on television or the
Internet, wearing merchandise, reading about the team, and purchasing merchandise. To test this
assertion, a series of regression models were run using fan likelihood to consume their favorite
team when playing a primary and secondary rival. The first model tested the influence of rival
perceptions on intention to attend a favorite teams game when playing a rival team. The model
was significant, F(4, 1425) = 81.42, p < .001 and explained 18.6% of the variance. Specifically,
willingness to support the rival in indirect competition and sense of satisfaction when the favorite
team defeats the rival team positively influenced intention to attend a favorite teams game, while
perceived prestige of the rival team negatively influenced the consumption method.
Model two, testing fan intention to watch the favorite team playing on television or the
Internet when playing a rival team was significant, F(4, 1425) = 126.81, p < .001 and explained
26.3% of the variance. Again, willingness to support the rival in indirect competition and sense
of satisfaction positively influenced the consumption method, while perceived prestige of the
rival team negatively influenced fan intention. Model three measured fan likelihood to wear
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favorite team merchandise when playing a rival team, and was significant, F(4, 1425) = 124.93,
p < .001 while explaining 26% of the variance. Once again, out-group indirect competition and
sense of satisfaction positively influenced the intention while out-group prestige negatively
influenced the consumption intention.
Model four, measuring fan likelihood to read about their favorite team when playing a
rival was significant, F(4, 1425) = 113.61, p < .001 and explained 24.2% of the variance. Out-
group indirect competition and sense of satisfaction positively influenced the consumption
intention while out-group prestige negatively influenced the intention. Finally, Model five
measured fan likelihood to purchase favorite team merchandise when playing a rival team, and
was significant, F(4, 1425) = 69.99, p < .001 while explaining 16.4% of the variance. In Model
five, out-group indirect competition and sense of satisfaction positively influenced the
consumption intention. Hypothesis 3 was partially supported, and a summary of the regression
models can be found in Table 6.
Research Question 1
Research Question 1 investigated variables that impacted fan likelihood to experience
GORFing. Specifically, how did (a) the presence of a primary and secondary rival, and (b) fan
rival perceptions impact fan likelihood to experience GORFing. Before Research Question 1a
was analyzed, an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was conducted to determine if level of team
identification and participant sex significantly impacted likelihood to experience GORFing.
Significant differences were present regarding team identification, and it was used as a covariate
to test for main effects differences. The Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was not significant
for the presence of a primary and secondary rival (F(1, 1427) = 0.120, p = .729).
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Research Question 1b investigated how fan rival perceptions influenced their likelihood
to experience GORFing. It was investigated using a regression model, and was significant F(4,
1425) = 172.478, p < .001 while explaining 32.6% of the variance. Likelihood to experience
GORFing was positively influenced by fan willingness to support the rival in indirect
competition, perceived prestige of the rival, and the sense of satisfaction experienced when the
favorite team defeated the rival team (Table 6). Perceived rival fan behavior did not significantly
influence likelihood of experiencing GORFing.
Discussion
The current study investigated the rivalry phenomenon among fans of professional sport.
In particular, the current study utilized the SRFPS to investigate fan rival perceptions in
professional sport. As stated, much of the existing research into rival perceptions has been
conducted at the intercollegiate level (Havard, 2014; Havard, 2016; Havard, Gray, Gould, Sharp,
& Schaffer, 2013; Havard & Reams, 2016; Havard, Wann, & Ryan; 2013; Kilduff, Elfenbein, &
Staw, 2010; Tyler & Cobbs, 2015; Wann & Dolan, 1995; Wann & Grieve, 2005). The current
study adds to the limited research on rivalry at the professional level, by investigating what
impact the presence of a primary and secondary rival have on fan rival perceptions, fan
intentions to consume their favorite team when playing a rival team, and the influence of rival
perceptions on fan likelihood to experience GORFing.
The current study found that fans were less likely to support their primary rival in indirect
competition than their secondary rival, believed fans of the primary rival behave worse than fans
of the secondary rival, and experience greater satisfaction when their favorite team defeats the
primary rival than when their favorite team defeats the secondary rival. The current study also
investigated how the presence of a primary and secondary rival impacted fan consumption
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intentions, and found that fans reported stronger intentions to watch the favorite team on
television or the Internet, wear favorite team merchandise, and read about the favorite team when
playing the primary rival than the secondary rival. Fan likelihood to consume their favorite team
was influenced by their willingness to support the rival in indirect competition, perceived
prestige of the rival team, and the sense of satisfaction experienced when their favorite team beat
the rival team.
Finally, the current study investigated fan likelihood of experiencing GORFing.
Specifically, fans were no more likely to experience GORFing if the primary rival lost to another
team than if the secondary team lost to another team. However, likelihood of experiencing
GORFing was positively influenced by their willingness to support the rival in indirect
competition, perceived prestige of the rival, and sense of satisfaction experienced when their
favorite team beat their rival team. It is important to note that even though fans reported more
negative perceptions of their primary rival than their secondary rival, fans did not differ in their
likelihood to experience GORFing when the primary and secondary rival teams loss in indirect
competition. This is important because it illustrates that even though fans may differ in their
perceptions of respective rival teams, they do not experience GORFing differently regarding the
two rival teams. This is an area in need of future investigation to further explain the current
findings.
Theoretical Implications
Findings from the current study carry important implications for academics and
practitioners alike. First, the current study extends the sport rivalry literature by investigating the
phenomenon at the professional sport level. Specifically, the current study utilized the SRFPS at
the professional level, and the measure showed reliability in the setting. Second, the current
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study extends rivalry research by asserting that fans reserve stronger negative perceptions for
their primary rival than their secondary rival. Additionally, the current study supports the
findings of Havard et al. (in press) that rival perceptions can influence consumption intentions.
Further, the current study extends the existing research by showing that the presence of a primary
and secondary rival can cause significant differences in fan consumption intentions.
Another important theoretical contribution the current study makes is the quantitative
measurement of the GORFing phenomenon. Havard (2014) coined the phenomenon using
qualitative means, and the current study was among the first to quantitatively measure the
likelihood of fans to experience the phenomenon following a rival teams loss to another team.
The current study found that the presence of a primary or secondary rival did not cause
significant differences in fan likelihood of experiencing GORFing. However, the perceptions
fans reserve of rival teams does influence their likelihood to experience GORFing. The addition
of a quantitative measure of GORFing will allow future researchers to efficiently investigate
such behaviors in sport fans.
The current study also adds to the literature regarding group and sport fan behavior. In
particular, understanding likelihood of experiencing GORFing adds to existing literature on
schadenfreude. Cikara et al. (2011) and Cikara and Fiske (2012) found that fans experience joy
when a rival loses to a third, neutral team, and findings from the current study assert that the
types and degree of perceptions fans reserve of those rival teams can influence their reactions to
rival team indirect failure. However, as previously stated, differences between schadenfreude
and GORFing could exist based on the fact that the former focuses solely on the individual while
the latter focuses on the individual and their favorite team. For instance, the quantitative
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measure used by Dalakas and Melancon (2012) focuses on the individual fan and does not gauge
responses toward their favorite team.
Further, the current study found no evidence that fans react differently when a primary or
secondary rival loses to another team. This finding is interesting considering that fans
significantly differ in their rival perceptions of the relevant out-groups. This is an area that
requires further investigation to determine why differences exist regarding rival perceptions
between a primary and secondary rival but not regarding likelihood of experiencing GORFing.
Practical Implications
Along with theoretical implications, the current study carries important findings for sport
practitioners. First, practitioners can utilize the findings to understand how fan perceptions of
rival teams can impact favorite team consumption intentions and likelihood of experiencing
GORFing. For practitioners, this means that the stronger negative perceptions a fan reserves for
a rival team, the greater the likelihood that fans will celebrate a rival loss to another team.
Considering this finding, practitioners would be well-advised to promote a rival loss, regardless
of a primary or secondary rival team, in a responsible way. One example would be hosting
watch parties when a rival team is playing a neutral team. The findings are also important for
professional leagues, as it does not matter why a person watches a rival team play, only that they
are consuming the sport product and ultimately adding revenue to the league.
Professional leagues and teams can also make use of the findings that indicate fans are
more likely to watch a game, wear favorite team merchandise, or read about the favorite team
when they are playing a primary rival rather than a secondary rival. Leagues and team
practitioners can take advantage of these findings by promoting the competitive relationships
within their leagues and divisions.
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From a team perspective, practitioners are strongly encouraged to identify rivals within
their divisions and leagues to help promote the sport product to potential consumers. The current
study provides such evidence for teams and future study aimed at gathering such information is
warranted. For example, the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, and New England Patriots were
among the teams most frequently identified as both a primary and secondary rival to other NFL
fans. Administrators for these teams should take advantage of these findings, as comparisons by
relevant out-groups can indicate strength of the sport brand.
Future Study
Along with the research ideas presented throughout the discussion, researchers are
advised to conduct future investigation into identifying rival teams at various levels of affiliation.
Such findings could assist league and team administrators in marketing and promoting their
product to potential consumers. Further, identifying and measuring perceptions, consumption
intentions, and likelihood of experiencing GORFing among teams beyond primary and
secondary rivals would be beneficial, as the findings would help determine how various rivals
impact fan perceptions and behavior. For example, a fan may not experience GORFing
differently regarding a primary and secondary rival, however they may react differently when a
primary rival loses to a more peripheral rival. As previously discussed, additional research is
needed to determine if differences in fact exist between schadenfreude and GORFing. For
example, qualitative and quantitative research can help to decipher if differences exist between
the two phenomena.
As always, the sport rivalry literature would strongly benefit from qualitative research
about the phenomenon to gain better understanding of fan perceptions and behavior at the
professional level. One limitation of the current study was the strong emphasis placed on NFL
RIVALRY IN PROFESSIONAL SPORT
20
and MLB teams by fans. It is important to note that participants were asked to self-identify a
favorite team, but future study could employ more focused efforts to collect fan data in the NBA,
NHL, and other professional leagues. It is also advised that future researchers focus efforts on
collecting data from fans of international sport teams and replicate the findings in that setting.
RIVALRY IN PROFESSIONAL SPORT
21
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Chapter
The current study further investigated rivalry and group behavior by comparing the perceptions and likely behaviors of sport fans regarding their biggest rival teams to that of Star Wars and Star Trek fans. Results showed that sport fandom was correlated with more negativity toward the relevant rival than among science fiction fans. Further, being a fan of both a sport team and a science fiction brand was correlated with more negativity toward the sport rival but more positivity toward the relevant science fiction rival brand. Finally, fans of the Star Wars brand reported greater positivity toward their in-group and more negativity toward the Star Trek brand than the other way around. Discussion focuses on academic and practical implications, along with future avenues of research.
Chapter
The current study introduces a hierarchy and spectrum of group member behavior and out-group derogation. Specifically, perceptions and likely behaviors among fans of: sport, politics, online electronic gaming, electronic platform gaming, science fiction, mobile phones, Disney theme parks, comics, and straight-to-consumer streaming entertainment platforms are compared to examine how various settings influence negativity toward relevant out-groups. To accomplish this, the Group Behavior Composite (GBC) is introduced, made up of the four facets of the Rivalry Perception Scale (RPS) and the Glory Out of Reflected Failure (GORFing) scale, to introduce a hierarchy of rival negativity and group member behavior. Discussion focuses on theoretical and practical implications of the GBC and hierarchy, while also calling for future areas of research.
Chapter
The current study investigated rival perceptions and likely behaviors in the sport and mobile phone settings. In particular, perceptions and likely behaviors of relevant out-groups were compared in the sport setting with users of Apple and Samsung mobile phones. Findings indicate that fans of sport teams reported higher identification with their favorite brands and more negativity toward the out-group than did users/fans of Apple and Samsung mobile phones. Additionally, being a fan of both a sport team and either Apple or Samsung mobile phones was correlated with more positive perceptions of the in-group and out-group. Finally, users of Samsung phones reported more satisfaction when their favorite brand compares favorably to Apple than vice versa. Implications and future research are discussed.
Chapter
This introductory chapter provides a glimpse of previous investigations regarding rivalry in the sport setting, and discusses why the setting is ideal for the study of the phenomenon. The chapter then discusses the need for comparison of perceptions and likely behaviors regarding rival out-groups in and out of the sport setting. To do this, previous investigations are briefly discussed and the studies included in the current text are introduced. The chapter concludes with the author’s advice on using the text for interested parties.
Chapter
This chapter offers conclusions from the studies included in this text and reiterates ideas for future investigation to further understand how rivalry and group member behavior is influenced by fandom setting. First, the current chapter offers a recap for the studies included in the text. Then, the chapter reiterates how the content in the text could be used by researchers and practitioners attempting to learn more about group behavior. The chapter concludes with ideas for future investigations and avenues that researchers can purpose to further our understanding of individual and group behavior.
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