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Why are some people fanatically interested in playing and watching sports? Over numerous of debates and studies, various sociology and sports experts have advanced sociology of sports theories in a bid to understand this question. As an increasing fan attendance and developing a loyal fan base are critical issues in spectacular sports industries, the need to understand the fans involved proves eminent. Various fans have different reasons as to why they support a certain team or why they play a certain sport. Sometimes, we find ourselves in the company of team fanatics that are cheering a losing team and probably try and understand why they do so.
Some of the reasons for sports fanaticism are related to the cost effect the society has on a certain sport or team. As every sport has its economic benefits as well as consumer products, the Self-congruity theory elaborates that certain fan behavior is particularly determined be the degree of congruence in the product or brand-user image as well as the self-concept.(Sirgy et al., 1991). This means that certain die-hard fans could be in love with a game due to the actual self-image or ideal self-image they hope to achieve by playing that sport. The high self-congruity involves a sports fan or sports purist relating a sports brand product image to that of his or her self-image (Kwak & Kang, 2008).
According to the theory, fans keep sports souvenirs with symbolic meaning from games and matches watched in an effort to maintain a given belonging to a team. This results to consumer’s personalities becoming defined, maintained and enhanced through the products they purchase and use. People are highly motivated to act in ways that protect established self-concepts and this has led to the consumers’ need for self-consistent motivating brand loyalty (Sirgy et al., 1991).
Yet another significant factor to look at in the dedicated to sports phenomenon would be the increasing rise in the fantasy sports league. Through one of the three largest fantasy services such as Yahoo, Sportsline and ESPN, in September 2005, over 9.5 million in the USA were involved in the fantasy league. More shockingly would be the fact that the volume of people playing fantasy would equate to the population of Michigan which is the 8th most populated state (Jarvie & Maguire, 1994).
This is an indication to the love fans have toward a team and how they even go to an extent of creating fantasy teams. As the fantasy league involves the fans making virtual teams and acting as managers, they get the chance to own an imaginary team which in the real sense may be the actual team of players in a real team. By playing fantasy, everyone gets a chance to be involved in the arrangement of their virtual team and watch the actual team play with the hope that the team or sport line up chosen would be used by the actual team managers. This has led to a large growth of sports fanatics and the emerging agency to be part of a winning team, or better yet, the hope of creating a winning team.
Another influential factor to the dedicated to sports phenomenon could be based on historical and racial aspects. The concept of certain races being better than others at certain sports has been around for ages. A look at the black history of sporting has proved that over the years various social boundaries have been bridged by the influence of sport and brought about a certain loyalty concepts around various sport. As more and more black athletes began to emerge, their dominance in the field has been phenomenon and as such, has brought about great inspiration among young athletes to partake in the same sport.
In the early 90’s, Dyson had suggested that while the physical prowess of the black body has in the 1990s been acknowledged and exploited as a fertile zone of profit within mainstream American athletic society, the symbolic dangers of black sporting excellence also needs to be highlighted (Dyson, 1994). This was in relation to the fact that while the social barriers in sport were being broken, more and more people got a feeling of belonging to the game. The relationship between supporting a certain favorite team or having an intense interest to a sport and that to fighting oppression has been highly intertwined to explain certain dedications to sports.
Sport has been viewed as a vehicle for valorizing black power, sporting skills as a mean of marking racial self expression, and sporting profit as a mean of pursuing social and economic mobility. They have also captured and catalyzed a black cultural fetishism for sport as a mean of expressing a particular form of black cultural style and identity (Dunning, 1996). In this statement, Dunning explained the relation between a phenomenal dedication and sport in reference to achieving equality and success, all of which have been great influences to any ‘dedicated to sports’ phenomenon.
Finally, the dedication to sport phenomenon is influenced by the societal, environmental and economic factors. It has become part of the 21st century lifestyle and has led to a tremendous following of sports fanatics.