Comparing Rivalry Effects Across Professional Sports: National Football League Fans Exhibit Most Animosity

Sport Marketing Quarterly, 26(4), 235-246, 2017.

21 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2018

See all articles by Joe Cobbs

Joe Cobbs

Northern Kentucky University - College of Business

B. Daniel Sparks

Northern Kentucky University

B. David Tyler

Western Carolina University

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

Previous research on sports rivalry has emphasized fans’ social identity and the threat posed by rivals. Much of this scholarship is based on intercollegiate sports, where many fans, such as students and alumni, have a formally defined identity with the university. In this study, fans (N = 4,828) across five major professional leagues — MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, and NHL — are surveyed to compare their animosity toward rivals based on four variables: schadenfreude, disidentification, prejudice, and relationship discrimination against rivals. The results consistently demonstrate that NFL fans harbor significantly greater animosity toward rivals than their counterparts in other leagues. Apart from the NFL, fans of NHL teams generally exhibit more animosity compared to other leagues, and NBA fans exhibit the least. While fan identification is relatively consistent across leagues, highly identified fans react more adversely to rivals. These differences in rivalry reactions have implications for promotional planning and event security protocol.

Keywords: rivalry, derby, league differences, schadenfreude, identification, discrimination

Suggested Citation

Cobbs, Joe and Sparks, B. Daniel and Tyler, B. David, Comparing Rivalry Effects Across Professional Sports: National Football League Fans Exhibit Most Animosity (2017). Sport Marketing Quarterly, 26(4), 235-246, 2017.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3158547

Joe Cobbs (Contact Author)

Northern Kentucky University - College of Business ( email )

Highland Heights, KY 41099
United States

B. Daniel Sparks

Northern Kentucky University ( email )

Nunn Drive
Highland Heights, KY 41099
United States

B. David Tyler

Western Carolina University ( email )

Cullowhee, NC 28723
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
50
Abstract Views
203
PlumX Metrics