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Objectives: Within the long line of inquiry on demand for sport, one area that has gone relatively unexamined is that of domestic migration. In this research, the relationship between population migration and team loyalty is explored. Methods: A linear mixed model uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Nielsen Company to analyze the effect domestic migration has on demand for National Football League games. Results: Ratings were higher in population centers with smaller per-capita population inflow (regardless of the origins of the inflow). The results further showed that increases in population flow from City A to City B were associated with increased demand for broadcasts in City B when Team B visited City A. Conclusions: The first finding suggests that sports viewership is not utilized as a vehicle for domestic transplants to integrate into their new community. The second finding suggests there is a nostalgia effect for an individual's previous hometown, though not necessarily for the team representing it in the league.
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Population Migration and Team Loyalty
in Professional Sports
n
Scott Tainsky, University of Illinois
Monika Stodolska, University of Illinois
Objectives. Within the long line of inquiry on demand for sport, one area that has
gone relatively unexamined is that of domestic migration. In this research, the
relationship between population migration and team loyalty is explored. Meth-
ods. A linear mixed model uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Nielsen
Company to analyze the effect domestic migration has on demand for National
Football League games. Results. Ratings were higher in population centers with
smaller per-capita population inflow (regardless of the origins of the inflow). The
results further showed that increases in population flow from City A to City B were
associated with increased demand for broadcasts in City B when Team B visited
City A. Conclusions. The first finding suggests that sports viewership is not utilized
as a vehicle for domestic transplants to integrate into their new community. The
second finding suggests there is a nostalgia effect for an individual’s previous
hometown, though not necessarily for the team representing it in the league.
It is universally accepted that there exists a connection between sports
teams and the communities they represent (Mason, 1999). One byproduct
of this connection is that the highest concentration of fans of a certain team
is found in the community that team calls home, for example, the Pittsburgh
Steelers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. What has yet to be understood is the
stability of fan identification among individuals who relocate and whether
that identification represents an actual bond between fan and team or a
demonstration of community attachment via sports. What we attempted to
do in this research is extend the use of demand estimations to study the
fluidity and basis of fandom itself. This project used television ratings for
National Football League (NFL) contests and domestic migration data to
investigate the relationship between population movements and team/city.
The NFL was selected because the league receives a larger percentage of its
revenues from broadcast than the other North American major professional
sports leagues (Cave and Crandall, 2001). Applying many of the same
techniques and controls that have been used in previous demand estima-
n
Direct correspondence to Scott Tainsky, Assistant Professor, Department of Recreation,
Sport and Tourism, University of Illinois, 104 Huff Hall, 1206 S. 4th St., Champaign, IL
61820 htainsky@illinois.edui. The authors will assist those who wish to replicate the study.
The authors thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.
SOCIAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY, Volume 91, Number 3, September 2010
r2010 by the Southwestern Social Science Association
tions, this research makes two major advances in the understanding of mi-
gration and the demand for sports. First, we show that increases in move-
ment between cities positively impact demand for games featuring teams
representing those cities but, interestingly, only in the market of the away
team. For example, the number of individuals who moved from New York
to Miami does not impact the ratings of a game in the Miami market
between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins, yet it is associated with
the ratings in the New York market. Because the teams are identical and the
effect is only present in the city where the population movement originates,
we argue that the increased demand is attributable to nostalgia for the origin
city rather than attachment to the team itself. Second, we found higher
viewership for teams in cities with lower per-capita inflow. We conclude
from this result that new residents do not immediately embrace the team
representing their new locality as a means to integrate into the community.
The remainder of our article proceeds as follows. The next section reviews
the relevant sport and migration literature. The third section covers the data
and methods. The results are presented next, and then we summarize the
principal findings and discuss several implications of the study.
Demand and Migration in the Sport Literature
One line of research that has received considerable attention from sport
researchers is that of demand. Numerous studies have been undertaken
investigating nearly every aspect of demand since Neale’s (1964) seminal
work. Many of these studies have focused on the relationship between de-
mand and characteristics of the games themselves, such as timing of contests
(Forrest and Simmons, 2006) and uncertainty of outcome (Lee and Fort,
2008). Other studies extended their inquiries to market factors, such as the
demographic makeup of the population (Burdekin, Hossfield, and Smith,
2005). Accordingly, there is a precedent to utilize demand estimations to
not merely learn about sport as a product, but also how the very compo-
sition of a fan base relates to the importance of the game to a community.
Throughout most of the sports literature, attendance has been used to
estimate demand. Moreover, in the cases that television ratings have been
used, most often it was not as the outcome variable, but to estimate the
effect of live television on attendance (Allan and Roy, 2008; Baimbridge,
Cameron, and Dawson, 1996; Buggink and Eaton, 1996; Carmichael,
Millington, and Simmons, 1999; Garcia and Rodriguez, 2002; Price and
Sen, 2003; Welki and Zlatoper, 1999). As media rights play an increasingly
important role in the vitality of professional sports leagues, however, there
has been a parallel emphasis in the academic literature that has established
the impact of various factors on demand for broadcast in addition to at-
tendance. Recently, television ratings for individual games have been used to
model demand according to uncertainty (Forrest, Simmons, and Buraimo,
802 Social Science Quarterly
2005). The study used data on the English Premier League to show that the
demand for television broadcasts was related to competitive balance. Other
research used broadcast ratings to study racial discrimination (Kanazawa and
Funk, 2001). The article found audiences preferred games with greater
participation of white players. Also using NBA ratings data, the impact of
superstars was found to produce positive externalities on other teams (Ha-
usman and Leonard, 1997). More recently, research showed evidence of the
relationship between minute-by-minute ratings and outcome uncertainty
(Alavy et al., 2006).
The second strand of research pertinent to this study involves migration
and sport. Migration has been defined as a ‘‘relatively long term change of
geographical location undertaken by individuals or groups of individuals’’
(Terret, 2008:953). Although the term ‘‘migration’’ generally applies to
population movements both within and between countries, the literature on
migration in the context of sport has largely focused on international pop-
ulation flows. The scholarship on sport and migration can be classified into
two main strands. The first strand focuses on migrants employed in sectors
related to sport, such as athletes, coaches, administrators, and sport scientists,
who seek to improve professional opportunities by relocating (Bale and Ma-
guire, 1994; Chiba, 2004; Cronin, Doyle, and O’Callaghan, 2008; Frenkiel
and Bancel, 2008; Juffer, 2002; King, 2004; Lanfranchi and Taylor, 2001;
Maguire, 1999; Maguire et al., 2002). The second one, which we will briefly
discuss in this literature review, tackles issues related to sport in the context of
migrations of general population and, in particular, the role of sport in the
lives of individuals following their settlement in the host country.
As argued by Cronin, Doyle, and O’Callaghan (2008), sport is a vol-
untary, open activity based on the principles of participation and enjoyment
and thus can be an effective means of introducing people to the culture of
their adopted homelands. Wilcox (1992) and Eisen and Wiggins (1994)
viewed sports as a medium of socialization and assimilation of immigrants.
Sports promoted the erosion of cultural barriers and supported the process
of assimilation to U.S. society. Baseball, football, basketball, volleyball, and
gymnastics were seen as socializing agents and tools for socioeconomic ad-
vancement for countless first- and second-generation immigrants of Italian,
German, Irish, Jewish, Easter European, and, later, Puerto Rican and other
Latin American descent (Cronin, Doyle, and O’Callaghan, 2008; Favero,
2008; Gems, 1994; Hofmann, 2008). Although the role of sport as an agent
of socioeconomic mobility has been questioned by many sport sociologists,
there exists some evidence suggesting that sport may help certain immigrants
gain acceptance, respect, and, on occasion, improve their social-economic
standing in the country of settlement (Bergin, 2002; Doherty and Taylor,
2007; Melnick and Sabo, 1994; Stodolska and Alexandris, 2004). It has
been argued that sport not only plays an assimilationist role in the lives of
immigrants, but also helps them retain symbolic connection with their for-
mer ways of life and with their communities of origin, as well as shapes
Migration and Loyalty in Sports 803
group identity, integrates the e
´migre
´community, and maintains, revives,
and sometimes even invents ‘‘traditional’’ customs (Gans, 1992; Hobsbawm
and Ranger, 1992). Pescador described soccer fields and boxing rings of the
Mexican community in Chicago and Detroit as ‘‘crucial spaces where issues
of ethnic identity, social organization, community awareness, and cultural
transmission are thought out, displayed, negotiated, and enacted’’ (2004:
354). Blecking provided an interesting comparison of the role of Polish and
Turkish ethnic sports clubs in Germany—the first in the pre World War I
period and the latter in the post-1960s era. Polish sporting clubs helped to
integrate the migrant community and provided a psychological buffer for
immigrants immersed in the alien industrial landscape of pre World War I
Germany. For many of the Polish rural migrants who found themselves
employed as miners, Polish sporting clubs served as familiar places, which
eased the process of adaptation to the new environment, helped the process
of community formation, and ‘‘played a major part in building up and
strengthening a reservoir of common values, code systems and traditions’’
(2008:959) aimed to counter the process of Germanization. In the post-
1961 era of Turkish migration, Turkish sport (primarily soccer) clubs were
also recognized as pillars of ethnic community. However, the findings of
Blecking’s study also challenged sport’s ‘‘generally alleged powers of inte-
gration’’ (2008:964). They revealed that Turkish immigrants, when ques-
tioned about their favorite football team, listed three Turkish soccer teams,
instead of their local and more successful German counterparts. On the list
of Turkish immigrant favorites, German teams, such as Borussia Dortmund
and Bayern Mu
¨nchen, ranked well below the Turkish clubs. Turkish im-
migrants also displayed strong preferences for watching Turkish television
stations and reading Turkish newspapers (including sport papers) over the
German press. As the author commented: ‘‘This tendency to opt for Turkey
is not only a question of consuming sport. It also reflects the fact that
talented Turkish footballers tend to opt for Turkish clubs and the Turkish
national team’’ (2008:964). The author attributed this tendency to the
general lack of acceptance of Turks in Germany and the strong Turkish
nationalism that found its outlet in sport.
Similar strong preference for following teams from the home country was
observed among Portuguese immigrants in New England (Moniz, 2007). As
Moniz commented: ‘‘Allegiances to specific Portuguese teams and players,
along with local broadcasts on radio and television of live matches or news
from the Superliga and international competitions link migrants to their
homeland; and through their highly-visible participation in the sport—as with
other prominent markers of cultural identity, including socio-religious rituals,
restaurants, social clubs, parades, and the like—‘The Portuguese’ are con-
ceived as a distinct ethnic group, as soccer provides them with a set of tropes
to mark boundaries’’ (2007:465). Moniz (2007) vividly described the land-
scape of the Portuguese immigrant community in New England, where soccer
fans watched games on RTPi (the Portuguese state international channel,
804 Social Science Quarterly
broadcast on local cable outlets) and via satellite from the first division, or
international matches featuring the Portuguese or Brazilian Selecc¸a
˜o.Passion
for soccer among the local Portuguese immigrants determined to watch Su-
perliga games led them to successfully lobby local cable companies to carry
RTPi. Moreover, immigrants watched local Portuguese-language television
that carried a number of futebol shows and read Portuguese-language press in
New England that covered games from the home country.
This research integrates these two strands of literature while extending the
scholarship on each one. The existing scholarship on migration and sport
has concentrated on international migrants, while the research on demand
has made almost exclusive use of attendance figures. We employed the
nascent use of television broadcast ratings to evaluate the influence of do-
mestic migration on demand. By doing so we were able to make the critical
advance of evaluating demand when the local team’s game is played in
another market. We simultaneously extended the discourse on migration to
reveal similarities and differences between international and domestic fan
transplants via the consumption of team sports.
Data and Empirical Specifications
Data on NFL games for the 2006 and 2007 seasons were collected from
nfl.com and espn.com. Franchise tenure (in its current market), winning per-
centage entering the game, winning percentage during the previous season,
games behind the division leader, time of the contest, and indicator variables
for whether the contest pitted two divisional opponents against one another
and whether the home team shared its market were recorded for each game.
Market characteristics, mean income, and the number of households in each
metropolitan statistical area (MSA) were gathered from the U.S. Census Bu-
reau (U.S. Census Bureau, n.d.). Inflow from specific MSAs was taken from
the decadal Census by aggregating the 1995–2000 movements between each of
the counties that compose the MSAs represented by NFL teams. The counties
included were those described in the 2000 definition of each MSA.
1
Total
inflow was taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community
Survey (ACS). Lagged values were utilized in the model (i.e., the inflow for
each MSA in 2006 was used in estimating demand for 2007). Finally, tele-
vision ratings for each contest were obtained from the Nielsen Company,
covering ratings in households receiving traditional over-the-air broadcasts.
2
1
For example, there are four counties in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA and
two in the Miami MSA. To tabulate the movement from Tampa Bay to Miami, the number
of individuals who moved from Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties to
Broward County was added to the number who moved from those counties to Miami-Dade
County.
2
The limitations of using these data are that they do not cover those viewing in sports bars,
dormitories, and via the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package.
Migration and Loyalty in Sports 805
To evaluate the demand in year ifor home game j:
HOMERATINGi;j¼b0þb1PRIMETIME þb2DIVISIONAL
þb3HOMESHAREMSAi
þb4HOMETENUREiþb5AWAYTENUREi
þb6LAGHOMEWINPCTi
þb7LAGAWAYWINPCTiþb8HOMEWINPCTi;j
þb9WINPCTDIFFi;j
þb10HOMEGBi;jþb11HOMEINCOMEi
þb12HOMEHOUSEHOLDSi
þb13AWAYTOHOMEFLOW
þb14HOMETOTALINFLOWiþei;j;
where the control variables closely follow previous demand estimations and
the variables can be described as follows. PRIMETIME is a dummy variable
representing whether the game was contested in the evening. This was in-
cluded to account for differences in viewership attributable to timing. DI-
VISIONAL is an indicator variable representing whether the game featured
divisional rivals. Its inclusion accounts for the potential rivalry effect.
HOMESHAREMSA indicates whether the home team (whose ratings are
being measured) shared its market. This was used to control for the potential
substitution effect in markets with multiple teams. HOMETENURE and
AWAYTENURE are the number of years each team resided in its current
market. LAGHOMEWINPCT and AWAYLAGWINPCT are values between
0 and 1 corresponding to the proportion of games won in the previous
season. These accounted for expectations of team quality based on past
performance. Similarly, HOMEWINPCT takes a value from 0 to 1 corre-
sponding to the proportion of games won in the ongoing season at the
outset of the game. The difference in quality between the competing teams,
WINPCTDIFF, was used to measure the uncertainty of outcome effect in
conjunction with the game importance variable, HOMEGB, describing the
number of games a team trailed the division leader for an automatic post-
season berth. HOMEINCOME and HOMEHOUSEHOLDS controlled for
the income and market-size effects. Logged figures were calculated for the
income variable according to convention and the number of households was
divided by 1 million for ease of interpretation.
The variables of interest are those related to domestic migration. AWAY-
TOHOMEFLOW is the logged value of the total number of individuals who
moved from the MSA represented by the visiting team to the MSA rep-
resented by the home team. This variable represents the total population
whose home team was the away team. Accordingly, sustained interest in that
team and/or city is represented by this variable. TOTALINFLOW is the
806 Social Science Quarterly
number of individuals who resided outside the home team’s MSA during
the previous calendar year. In contrast to AWAYTOHOMEFLOW,TO-
TALINFLOW does not consider origin and reflects the individual’s resi-
dence one rather than many years earlier. HOMERATING is the percentage
of televisions in the home market tuned in at any given moment and is used
as a proxy of demand.
A similar equation was employed to measure demand in the visiting
team’s market:
AWAYRATINGi;j¼b0þb1PRIMETIME þb2DIVISIONAL
þb3AWAYSHAREMSAi
þb4HOMETENUREiþb5AWAYTENUREi
þb6LAGHOMEWINPCTi
þb7LAGAWAYWINPCTiþb8AWAYWINPCTi;j
þb9WINPCTDIFFi;j
þb10HOMEGBi;jþb11AWAYINCOMEi
þb12AWAYHOUSEHOLDSi
þb13HOMETOAWAYFLOW
þb14AWAYTOTALINFLOWiþei;j:
If b
13
was positive in the estimations, then we would have concluded that
individuals who have relocated maintain a connection to their former team.
If b
14
was positive, we would infer that many new residents take an interest
in their new city’s sports team, perhaps as a means to acclimate into their
community. However, if negative, then it may be that a region’s new
inhabitants do not immediately adopt the regional identity and instead hold
onto their old team/city identity after relocating.
Linear mixed models were utilized to regress game rating on the variables
as described. Using a mixed model, home team or away team, depending
on the dependent variable being measured, was noted as a repeated subject
variable to account for the fact that that games played in the same market
are not completely independent observations, while the remainder of
the variables were estimated for their effect on rating. Compound symmetry,
autoregressive, and Toeplitz models were each tested for fit measur-
ing maximum likelihood on the dependent variable. Using the informa-
tion criteria provided by the results, where smaller is better, the compound
symmetry model was ultimately selected to be used with restricted
maximum likelihood estimations, producing unbiased estimates of the
parameters that may result using traditional ordinary least squares
regression.
Migration and Loyalty in Sports 807
Results
Summary statistics for games included in the HOMERATING estimation
are presented in Table 1.
3
As presented in Table 2, the majority of the control variables were
significant (eight of twelve at p50.10, seven at p50.05, and six at
p50.01) and 71.9 percent of the variability was explained by the model.
The factors found to be positively associated with ratings for teams playing
in their home market were PRIMETIME,HOMETENURE,AWAYTE-
NURE,LAGHOMEWINPCT, and HOMEWINPCT.HOMESHAREMSA,
WINPCTDIFF, and HOMEGB were negatively associated with home
ratings.
The results on the effects of population movement are as follows.
AWAYTOHOMEFLOW was not significant in the model. Accordingly,
there was no evidence that the number of people who at one time might
have had an allegiance to a team sustained interest after relocating when the
game was shown in the market of their current residence. HOME-
TOTALINFLOW, however, was negative and significant in estimating
ratings (po0.000). For each additional percentage of the population that
lived outside the area one year prior, we would expect to see a decrease of
5.50 in the ratings.
TABLE 1
Descriptive Statistics for NFL Home Team Games 2006–2007
Parameter NMin. Max. Mean SD
HOMERATING 434 7.6 50.5 25.898 8.569
PRIMETIME 434 0 1 0.076 0.265
DIVISIONAL 434 0 1 0.380 0.486
HOMESHAREMSA 434 0 1 0.124 0.330
HOMETENURE 434 4 88 44.200 23.772
AWAYTENURE 434 4 88 43.048 22.990
LAGHOMEWINPCT 434 0.125 0.875 0.505 0.190
LAGAWAYWINPCT 434 0.125 0.875 0.497 0.194
HOMEWINPCT 407 0.000 1.000 0.508 0.285
WINPCTDIFF 407 0.000 1.000 0.293 0.261
HOMEGB 434 0 14 2.010 2.307
HOMEINCOME 434 10.428 11.024 10.667 0.148
HOMEHOUSEHOLDS 434 0.353 6.728 1.682 1.540
AWAYTOHOMEFLOW 432 3.850 11.665 8.156 1.238
HOMETOTALINFLOW 434 10.053 12.890 11.784 0.653
3
There are fewer data points for HOMEWINPCT and WINPCTDIFF because teams do
not have win-loss records entering their first game of the season. There are fewer data points
for AWAYTOHOMEFLOW resulting from competing teams sharing an MSA.
808 Social Science Quarterly
Summary statistics for those observations included in the analysis of
AWAYRATING are presented in Table 3, with the same qualifications listed
in footnote 3.
Table 4 shows that most of the controls were significant (seven of twelve
at p50.10, seven at p50.05, and four at p50.01) and 71.7 percent of the
variability was accounted for by the model. All the significant parameter
estimates were in the same direction as in the previous estimation. Slight
differences exist among the control variables in each model with respect to
opponent’s tenure in the market, opponent’s winning percentage the
previous season, winning percentage difference, and income.
The same cannot be said for the variables of interest. In this case, the
number of people who came from the opponent’s city was significant in
predicting demand (p50.066). A 1 percent change in HOMETOAWAY-
FLOW yielded a 0.34 change in AWAYRATING. This is a noteworthy result
in and of itself, but even more so because it was not significant in estimating
HOMERATING. The importance of this discrepancy is discussed further in
the final section. AWAYTOTALINFLOW was significant (po0.001) and of
roughly the same magnitude as total inflow in the previous estimation. For
each additional percent of the population that lived outside the visiting
team’s MSA one year prior, we would expect a decrease of 6.13 in ratings.
The consistency in both estimates allows us to definitively reject the null that
b
14
50.
TABLE 2
NFL Broadcast Ratings Estimation 2006–2007 (Home)
Parameter Estimate TStat
95% CI
Lower Bound Upper Bound
CONSTANT 11.811 0.228 115.579 91.956
PRIMETIME 2.025 2.758
nnn
0.581 3.469
DIVISIONAL 0.468 1.261 0.262 1.197
HOMESHAREMSA 10.621 3.381
nnn
17.026 4.216
HOMETENURE 0.095 3.030
nnn
0.030 0.159
AWAYTENURE 0.023 2.751
nnn
0.007 0.040
LAGHOMEWINPCT 5.307 3.471
nnn
2.300 8.313
LAGAWAYWINPCT 0.277 0.288 1.619 2.173
HOMEWINPCT 5.983 5.364
nnn
3.790 8.177
WINPCTDIFF 1.220 1.796
n
2.555 0.116
HOMEGB 0.220 2.055
nn
0.431 0.010
HOMEINCOME 8.057 1.512 2.686 18.800
HOMEHOUSEHOLDS 0.608 0.753 2.256 1.040
AWAYTOHOMEFLOW 0.000 0.205 0.000 0.000
HOMETOTALINFLOW 5.503 4.012
nnn
8.281 2.726
R
2
50.719.
n
po0.10;
nn
po0.05;
nnn
po0.01.
Migration and Loyalty in Sports 809
TABLE 3
Descriptive Statistics for NFL Away Team Games 2006–2007
Parameter NMin. Max. Mean SD
AWAYRATING 452 3.8 47.6 24.682 8.733
PRIMETIME 452 0 1 0.071 0.257
DIVISIONAL 452 0 1 0.374 0.484
AWAYSHAREMSA 452 0 1 0.124 0.330
HOMETENURE 452 4 88 43.144 23.464
AWAYTENURE 452 4 88 42.648 23.223
LAGHOMEWINPCT 452 0.125 0.875 0.493 0.193
LAGAWAYWINPCT 452 0.125 0.875 0.501 0.191
AWAYWINPCT 426 0.000 1.000 0.484 0.271
WINPCTDIFF 426 0.000 1.000 0.288 0.256
AWAYGB 452 0 13 2.129 2.305
AWAYINCOME 452 10.428 11.024 10.663 0.151
AWAYHOUSEHOLDS 452 0.353 6.728 1.601 1.430
HOMETOAWAYFLOW 449 4.956 11.665 8.168 1.205
AWAYTOTALINFLOW 452 10.053 12.890 11.772 0.658
TABLE 4
NFL Broadcast Ratings Estimation 2006–2007 (Away)
Parameter Estimate TStat
95% CI
Lower Bound Upper Bound
CONSTANT 72.209 1.333 180.780 36.362
PRIMETIME 3.464 4.790
nnn
2.042 4.886
DIVISIONAL 0.273 0.763 0.430 0.976
AWAYSHAREMSA 14.374 4.262
nnn
21.272 7.476
HOMETENURE 0.012 1.492 0.004 0.028
AWAYTENURE 0.095 2.787
nn
0.025 0.165
LAGHOMEWINPCT 1.962 2.130
nn
0.151 3.773
LAGAWAYWINPCT 2.832 1.975
nn
0.012 5.651
AWAYWINPCT 5.804 5.510
nnn
3.733 7.876
WINPCTDIFF 0.579 0.905 0.679 1.836
AWAYGB 0.031 0.327 0.220 0.158
AWAYINCOME 13.870 2.460
nn
2.506 25.234
AWAYHOUSEHOLDS 0.194 0.226 1.953 1.565
HOMETOAWAYFLOW 0.340 1.841
n
0.023 0.702
AWAYTOTALINFLOW 6.135 4.302
nnn
9.018 3.252
R
2
50.717.
n
po0.10;
nn
po0.05;
nnn
po0.01.
810 Social Science Quarterly
Discussion and Conclusions
Findings of this research show that migration is indeed a factor in
estimating demand for sports. The importance of migration manifested in
several ways. First, individuals who previously resided in a market were more
likely to tune into a telecast featuring a team representing that city, but only
when the game was being held in their former city. Because the location of
the game was a decisive factor, this provides support for the notion that it
was more than the game itself that some fans tuned in to watch. As pictures
of the city landscape, the stadium, and the crowd infuse telecasts in between
plays and on either side of commercial breaks, one potential explanation is
that these may add value to fans and potentially influence the decision of
some fans to tune in. Second, recent migration to a city was a negative
indicator of demand. We postulated that the effect could have been positive
if recent migrants used identification with professional sports teams in order
to assimilate into their new community; however, the opposite effect was
seen. Consequently, we conclude that team/city identification is to some
extent enduring. Based on the combination of these results, we posit that
new residents may maintain attachment to their old city team as a way to
assert their identity within a new community. Because using attendance data
would only allow demand to be estimated in the market where the game
occurs, a comparison of this kind was not possible without the use of
broadcast ratings.
Our results on internal migrations mirror, to a large extent, the results of
research on international migration flows that found fans to show strong
attachment to sport from their countries of origin and to follow teams that
play in their country of origin. The existing research (Blecking, 2008)
showed that Portuguese and Turkish immigrants displayed a preference for
viewing television programs featuring teams playing in their home country.
Our findings seem to indicate that the nostalgic feelings are not reserved for
international migrants, but also are common among people who undertake
domestic migrations. Sport may serve as one of the cultural markers linking
migrants to their places of origin and may be evidence of sentimental
attachment regardless of whether the move is domestic or international.
Another of the interesting findings of this study is that individuals who
had previously resided in a locality were more likely to watch a telecast
featuring a team representing that city, but only when the game was being
held in their former city of residence. There was no evidence that the
number of people who at one time may have had an allegiance to a certain
team sustained that interest after relocating when the game was being shown
in the market of their current residence. The lack of interest is difficult to
explain in light of the literature on sport and international migration, as
there is evidence (although obtained using different research methods) that
international migrants follow the games played by teams from their
countries of origin when these games are played in the country of settlement.
Migration and Loyalty in Sports 811
We can speculate that international migrations are different in this respect,
as the fans’ sporting preferences are potentially associated with nationalistic
attachments and sentiments. Moreover, we can argue that the attachment to
the home-country teams among international migrants may be stronger than
among domestic migrants for whom team attachment is not as closely
connected to issues of cultural allegiance and ethnic preservation.
Moreover and interestingly, the findings of our study failed to find
evidence for the assimilative role of sport among domestic migrants. One
may argue that this observation can be attributed to the differences between
the dynamics of international as opposed to domestic migrations. Although
international migrants may experience strong external pressures (e.g., from
political and educational institutions) to assimilate and may use sport for
that purpose as well as to learn about the new environment and to gain
social acceptance, sport may play a more recreational role among the
domestic migrants. We can posit that while for the international migrants
sport serves the purpose of introducing people to the culture of their
adopted homelands (Cronin, Doyle, and O’Callaghan, 2008), cultural
differences between various regions of the United States are not pronounced
enough for internal migrants to employ sport in its adaptive capacity. The
process of adaptation for domestic migrants is also not as cumbersome, the
new environment is not as alien, and the reception from the local population
is not as negative as among some of the international immigrants described
in Blecking’s (2008) study. Thus, sport may serve more of an entertainment
role for the domestic migrants as opposed to the buffering function it has for
their international counterparts. Moreover, sport is less of a ‘‘marker of
cultural identity’’ (Moniz, 2007:465) for domestic migrants who do not
have the need to ‘‘mark boundaries’’ in their new place of settlement.
Research on the motivations for sport consumption is very extensive (e.g.,
Armstrong, 2002; Wann, 1995, Wann, Schrader, and Wilson, 1999). An
examination of this scholarship identified eight major groups of motivations
for sport viewership: eustress, self-esteem, escape, entertainment, economic,
aesthetic, group affiliation, and family (Wann, 1995). None of these factors,
however, is related to the nostalgic feelings that tie sport to other aspects of
everyday life, such as the landscape of the city or longing for the place of
origin (homeland/city). One could argue that this is a significant omission of
the existing literature, particularly as it applies to ethnic minority groups
and, in our case, domestic migrants. Our results indicate that fans’
familiarity with place is sufficient to affect some viewers’ decisions of
whether or not to watch professional team sports contests. Because of the
nature of our data, the degree of familiarity with place required to affect
these marginal viewers is not known and requires future research.
An additional question we have is at what point does the impact of having
relocated dissipate? The number of new residents (less than one year) was
found to have an adverse effect on demand, but because the ACS did not
collect MSA-level migration data prior to 2005 (only state and county), we
812 Social Science Quarterly
were unable to examine whether the number of migrants over the past two,
three, and five years made a similar impact. We can confidently conclude
that new residents do not behave similarly to long-term residents, but
cannot firmly establish precisely when newer residents no longer exhibit
differences from the rest of the population. To that same end, from this
study we cannot determine whether differences exist among new residents.
Perhaps it is the case that persons who lived in their former community for
longer/shorter periods or moved further/shorter distances to their new city
develop allegiances to their new home teams at the same rate. These, we
believe, are among the many possible interesting questions for future studies.
Finally, although it was necessary to use broadcast data to uncover
differences in home and away markets, future studies are needed to examine
whether the remainder of our findings holds true with respect to attendance.
The extent to which domestic migration influences gate attendance remains
a question, if it has any effect at all. What we know from this study is that
some former residents have sufficient interest to tune into a broadcast taking
place in their former home city. What is unaccounted for is the relative level
or type of interest required to watch the broadcast of a game versus to attend
one. It therefore remains a question whether practitioners should consider
this in informing decisions on matters related to gate attendance. As a final
point, this article considers these questions concerning one sports league. As
previous studies of demand have established that which factors affect
demand and the size of those effects vary from league to league, it is
important not to extrapolate these findings to other sports and leagues.
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