An Examination of Dysfunctional Sports Fans
Kirk Wakefield of Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University and Daniel Wann of the Department of Psychology at Murray State University examine the dark side of what may be seen as excessive sports fan identification. Past examinations of highly identified sports fans have focused on the positive aspects of identification with the team in terms of attitudes, participation, attendance of events, merchandise purchases, and other pro-team related behaviors (Wakefield & Wann, 2006). Wakefield and Wann's study presents a measure useful in classifying highly identified fans in terms of their dysfunctional nature and delineates associated problem behaviors and differentiating individual characteristics.
Recent research in sport marketing and management indicates that team identification is related to both attendance and merchandise purchasing. With respect to attendance, team identification is one of the best predictors of sporting event attendance (i.e., greater levels of team identification predict more frequent attendance).
As for merchandise purchasing the same sort of correlations apply (Wakefield & Wann, 2006). Additionally, sport team identification can be beneficial to the community as a whole by encouraging and strengthening community integration. For instance, team loyalty aids in the integration of individual communities, towns, and cities (e.g., high school football on Friday nights) as well as on a larger scale at the state (e.g., state high school basketball championships), national (e.g., the Superbowl and World Series), and international levels (e.g., the Olympic Games and World Cup Soccer). Thus, it appears there are a number of tangible benefits to high degrees of team identification. Consequently, both team management personnel and communities in general likely desire a large number of individuals who are highly identified with there team.
Although the majority of highly identified fans attending sporting events are well-behaved and act in a manor consistent with...