Children’s game-day experiences and effects of community groups

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Emerald Publishing Limited
Purpose Sport management research that examines children as a distinct group of sport consumers is sparse, and therefore the authors know relatively little about how and why children become fans of sport teams. The purpose of this paper is to explore the game-day experiences of children in order to better understand how these experiences allow children to socialize into the team community and become fans of the team. Design/methodology/approach The authors examine this through exploratory observational analysis and 26 semi-structured interviews with children at professional sporting events. Findings Among the results, it was found that children primarily focus on exploring ways to build membership in the fan community as opposed to initially building connections to the team itself. In addition, those children that watched the games with their peers demonstrated greater in-game emotional responses than those children that viewed the game with family. Research limitations/implications This study provides support for the importance of community membership in the initial stages of sport team fandom as well as the varying effects of different groups within fan communities on child fans. However, further research is needed to increase the generalizability of the results. Practical implications It is recommended that sport teams increasingly target groups that will bring children to games with their peers in order to enhance their game experience and increase their socialization into fandom. Originality/value This paper is one of the first in sport management to directly look to better understand children and the ways in which they become fans of sports teams.
Professional sports, Children, Research
Reifurth, K. R. N., Bernthal, M. J., & Heere, B. (2018). Children’s game-day experiences and effects of community groups. Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, 8(3), 257–275.