Components of Sport Marketing and How Sports Term Paper

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¶ … components of sport marketing and how sports affect the way that sports is marketed.

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Sports and the mass media enjoy a symbiotic relationship (Eitzen & Sage, 1989). On one hand, the mass media, more than anything else, were responsible for turning organized sports from a relatively minor element of culture into a full-blown social institution. On the other hand, sports has been the vehicle for bringing dramatic attention to new mass media forms, which in turn have brought new sporting experiences to the public. This marriage of sports and the mass media has enabled each to flourish (Lever & Wheeler, 1993). Sports marketers are interested in the relationship between sports and the mass media and in how to use the media to target their messages at sports consumers. In a sense, sports marketing offers a form of narrowcasting, whereby a large group of consumers with common interests is brought together through sports events and programming (Fitch, 1986). The more specific the analysis of the sports-media relationship, the more targeted is the message, and the more effective and powerful is the sports marketing strategy. However, one downside for sports marketing is that sports marketers have not yet clearly identified their consumers (Burnett et al., 1993) or their consumers' specific media usage. Like the larger society, sports are stratified (Eitzen & Sage, 1989). Previous research on sports consumers has generally divided the consuming of sports into sports participation and sports spectatorship. For example, Kenyon and McPherson (1973) made a distinction between primary sports roles (participants) and secondary sports roles (spectator, viewer, listener, and reader). Likewise, Burnett et al. (1993) concluded that existing evidence suggests two major forms of behavioral involvement in sports: (1) directly participating in various sports and physical activities; and (2) being a spectator or fan, as manifested in reading about and watching sports events in the arena or on television. Since the late 1960s, the two types of sports involvement have been studied separately and extensively from various perspectives (Burnett et al., 1993; Dickinson, 1976; Gaskell & Pearton, 1979; Harris, 1973; Kenyon, 1968; Lang, 1981; Luschen, 1980; Sofranko & Nolan, 1972; Spreitzer & Snyder, 1976; Taylor, 1972; Zillman, Bryant, and Sapolsky, 1979. For a review, see Burnett et al., 1993). In a similar vein, McPherson, Curtis, and Loy (1989) divided sport consumers into those who consume sports directly at a stadium, arena, or field; indirectly via television, radio, newspapers, and magazines; and indirectly by discussing sport topics in a variety of social situations.

For those sports marketers who are interested in fine and narrow segmentation, however, it is not enough to divide sports involvement into the two categories of spectator (indirect) and participant (direct). Each of the segments must be further classified and characterized. Shoham and Kahle (1996) did this in their pioneering segmentation studies. They subdivided sports participation into three categories: competitive sports, fitness sports, and nature-related sports; and they subdivided spectatorship into another three categories: attending sporting events, watching sports on TV, and reading sports magazines. Because the three kinds of participation suggest shared consumption of sport products and services, Shoham and Kahle termed them consumption communities. Three kinds of spectatorship were designated as communication communities because they suggest associated media habits of differing consumption communities.

Shoham and Kahle's (1996) categorization of sports involvement was derived from the perspective of values research, which is intertwined with the concepts of lifestyles and psychographics (Kahle & Chiagouris, 1997). For those consumer researchers who are interested in these concepts, it is very important to understand the social context in which values are enacted (Prensky & Wright-Isak, 1997). Communities provide this social context. A community is defined as a group of people who share a set of values and common understandings about how these shared values will be enacted in attitudes and behaviors (Prensky & Wright-Isak, 1997).

Over the past century, traditional residential and occupational communities have been replaced in part by consumption communities as a basis for expressing values (Boorstin, 1974). Boorstin first introduced the concept of "consumption community" as a reflection of the cultural changes induced by the rise of mass media advertising and the early mail order catalog businesses (Boorstin, 1974). Sports fans form their own consumption communities, in which sport as a social institution reflects and affirms many values as well as the apparent tensions among them (Trujillo & Ekdom, 1985). Residential and occupational communities feature face-to-face contacts, whereas consumption communities are "virtual" -- that is, attitudinal and behavioral enactment of values is conveyed via modern media, both mass and individualized. Media exposure provides consumers information that they might use to learn about their consumption communities (Prensky & Wright-Isak, 1997). Inspired by these concepts of "communities" and "values, " Shoham and Kahle (1996) identified the consumption and communication communities among sports fans, described earlier. What distinguishes Shoham and Kahle's segmentation from previous ones is that their studies further categorized sports involvement, and most importantly, this categorization exactly reflects sports-media relationships. Sports marketers are interested in this relationship because what concerns them is how to reach different segments of sports fans effectively via different media channels.

What strategic issues confront the sports marketer? The list is endless,

Whereas a great deal has been recorded on sponsorship's definition and the ways in which sponsorship or team identification is thought to work, the literature is less comprehensive when acknowledging or discussing the sports marketing activity known as licensing. Irwin, Sutton and McCarthy (2002) suggested licensing programs, as engineered by teams or leagues, exist for the purpose of supporting three fundamental benefits: (a) promotional exposure, (b) profit from license application, and - protection against unauthorized logo usage.

Licensing is a vibrant marketing concept and draws its relevance from fan identification, which Sutton, McDonald, Milne, and Cimperman (1997, p. 15) defined as "the personal commitment and emotional involvement customers have with a sport organization. " Mael and Ashforth (1992) suggested that when fans identify closely with a sport organization (i.e., a team) "a sense of connectedness ensues" and the fan begins to define him- or herself in relation to the organization. Wann, Hamlet, Wilson, and Hodges (1995) suggested fans come to see themselves as "extensions of the team" and Sutton, McDonald, Milne, and Cimperman (1997, p. 15) wrote of sports fans generating notably high levels of "emotional attachment and identification. "

Given that all sport teams must ultimately win or lose the games they play, additional theory such as Cialdini, Borden, Thorne, Walker, Freeman, and Sloan's (1976) BIRGing work, Rooney's (1974) pride in place, or Wann and Branscombe's (1993) team identification work provided a foundation that fans clearly identify with teams and are willing to represent those teams with various behaviors. Cialdini et al. identified BIRGing as a consumer behavior that stood for basking in reflected glory and suggested that when a fan's sports team won, fans of the team usually articulated that victory in language resembling the words, "We won" and were inclined to wear team colors or licensed items bearing team logos, graphics, or trademarked words. Cialdini et al. posited the fan was able to see him- or herself as a satellite member of the team and believed (in varying degrees of commitment) that his or her avidity helped play a role in the team's success. Not surprisingly, the most visible method for reflecting the team's glory was for the fan to purchase and wear licensed clothing in public. In doing so, the fan moved one step closer to perceived team membership and achieved, through this identification, an elevation of status generally not possible in their normal jobs.

Lever (1983) wrote of this behavior and suggested sport involved people jointly by providing common symbols, a collective identity and a reason for solidarity. This supports Aaker's work (1991) as described by Gladden and Milne (1999) in discussing brand equities where "positive associations with a particular brand name (or logo/mark) adds to the value provided by the product/team" (Gladden & Milne, 1999, p. 21). Thus, teams that win frequently generate a growing willingness to BIRG and are likely to profit from increased revenue (from selling team-identified items) and increased public visibility (from fans paying for the privilege to wear the team's brand on their bodies for free).

In fact, while studying the Atlanta Braves baseball team and sponsors CocaCola and Auto Zone, Dalakas, Rose, and Aiken (2001) and Dalakas and Burton (2002) found that the more a fan is identified with a team, the greater the likelihood the fan would understand the role of sponsorship and support the team's sponsors in retail settings. Madrigal's (2000, 2001) comprehensive research with American college football fans also showed that highly identified fans share a norm that suggests attitudes toward properties contribute to a consumer's intentions to purchase sponsors' products. Thus, the team identification benefit not only goes beyond the team's branded image but also serves the equities of players, broadcasters, and team sponsors. It also gives credence to a popular refrain often uttered by NASCAR auto manufacturers -- "Win on Sunday,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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