Hurricanes fans aren't supportive in the right way

Sean has a theory on why the Hurricanes are always 'close but no cigar' at his Super 12 Champions posting.

Hmmm - it pre-supposes that the fans actually affect the play and can win a game. So, in answer to Sean here's my Counselling Degree, 2nd year paper on "AS6206 Research / Critical Thinking Proposal".

It's a reply-ish as it may not actually related directly to Seans theory but it's something I've been wanting to post for a while.

By the way we didn't actually have to run the research just write a proposal - I know, I know but that was hard enough for most.

Oh, two more things - if you're sitting this paper (or any like it) and want to use this as your own submission - don't! However, if you want to actually do the research and get an answer then by all means go for it but let me know first.

AS6206 Research / Critical Thinking Proposal
2003 2nd Year Assignment

Wellington Fans don’t CORF – an investigation into the underlying reasons
Author: Mike Riversdale (used to be Mike Boyle)

Due Date: Monday, 10th November 2003
Printed: Wednesday, 12 November 2003

Wellington Fans don’t CORF – an investigation into the underlying reasons

It is well known within the New Zealand rugby community that the Wellington NPC (Lions) and Super 12 (Hurricanes) teams have the highest attendance week in and week out. This trend does not, however, directly relate to winning record of the two teams and, in fact, they both have average competing records within their respective competitions.

A satisfactory experience resulting from attending a sporting event would appear to be an important predictor of a fan’s likelihood of attending future events and the reaction of Basking In Reflected Glory (BIRF; Cialdini, Borden, Thorne, Walker, Freeman, & Sloan, 1976) and the opposing Cutting Of Reflected Failure (CORF; Snyder, Lassegard, & Ford, 1986) have been sited as important factors.

Within the New Zealand community the author perceives a general ‘hitching of ones cart to another’s horse’ – by that he means that sporting, national, community events seem to have a greater effect on the New Zealand individual than similar events do on individuals living in other countries. This trend does not, however, seem to be represented within the Wellington rugby attending community and the question of “Why” is to be investigated.

Literature Review
From the early days of psychology there have been studies into the affects of being a ‘sports fan’, notably the (if now ‘simplistic’) research into the attributions ‘home’ and ‘away’/neutral fans place onto outcomes (Hastorf, Cantril, 1954) and thus noting that it does matter where the team is playing and, more importantly to this study, how the fans themselves perceive the game.

Athletes reported familiarity with the home court, the home crowd, and travel demands were important game location factors. Familiarity with the home court and home crowd support were perceived to have had the greatest influence on team performance (Bray, Widmeyer, 2000).

It has been recognised in the more recent literature that not all sports fans are of the one ‘type’ and that, highly identified participants strategically manipulated their attributions after a loss in an attempt to protect their self-esteem. Lowly identified participants were less bothered by the team's defeat and as such were less motivated to use these strategies (Wann, Dolan, 1994) thus this study aims to investigate the ‘level’ of identification within the Wellington region as opposed to other rugby areas. Highly identified people also don’t CORF after a loss according to Wann, Hamlet, Wilson & Hodges (1995).

Whilst generally it is stated that sports fans avoided not only public but also private association with a losing team research found that very unexpected wins resulted in more private BIRG than did very expected wins (Boen, Vanbeselaere & Feys, 2002). In other words, it seems that pre-game expectations did play a role, but only under very limited circumstances, namely, when a victory was quite surprising. This finding is consistent with the results of Madrigal (1995), who found that basketball fans showed a stronger inclination to BIRG after a win that defied pre-game expectations than after a win that upheld those expectations. With the Wellington rugby teams “expect the unexpected” has been a slogan for sometime from which the Wellington fan may bathe under higher BIRG than other supporters.

Whilst an individual experiences BIRG this is not a measurement of ‘enjoyment’ and does not give the whole reason a rugby fan will continue to support their team. A model researched and tested by Madrigal (1995) includes three other factors:
1. team identification
2. expectancy disconfirmation (improved perceptions of performance relative to expectations)
3. quality of opponent

It is noted in the study that ‘enjoyment’ is more important than BIRG. Point 2 once again hints at the “unexpected win” factor.

Social identity theory (SIT) has, more recently, given a generic model of how individuals maintain the need for a positive social identity producing strong reactions when that identity is threatened, such as in the case of group failure or negative events (Dietz-Uhler, Murrell, 1999). It is also stated in the same study that fans that have a strong group identity should still be motivated to think about their team in positive ways and therefore predicted that fans who identity strongly with their team will evaluate them more favourably than those who do not identify strongly with their team.

The Sport Fan Motivation Scale (SFMS) is an instrument designed to measure eight different motives of sport fans (eustress, self-esteem, escape, entertainment, economic, aesthetic, group affiliation, and family). This has been validated as a reliable and valid assessment tool (Wann, Schrader & Wilson, 1999).

Finally, it is to be noted that Wellington is a highly affluent part of the country and that, according to Clark & Oswald (2002) money can be used as a measure of happiness. Whilst this was an academic research paper it is noted by this author that maybe the sporting fans of the area pursue their sporting happiness in such a way.

Literature Conclusion

Sports fans are motivated by many factors that have been researched and documented – those found in the literature search are:
  • Enjoyment
  • BIRG
  • CORG
  • eustress
  • self-esteem
  • escape
  • entertainment
  • economic
  • aesthetic
  • group affiliation
  • family
There are also generic ‘norms’ of behaviour described of sports fans in reaction to their team’s performance at home which allow for standard measurement methods to be tested and validated.

Some researchers highlight the phenomenon of ‘unexpected’ results by the team (wins against opposition that was perceived to be far superior) that can be studied within the Wellington region.

(Blog note - this next stuff was about how someone could actually do the research ... less relevant in my argument than the above)
Participants for this study will be selected using the following criteria:
  • Live within the Wellington Region (as defined by the NZRFU for the purposes of the Super 12 franchise)
  • Consider themselves to be part of the ‘rugby community’
  • Have been to a rugby game within the past 3 rugby seasons
No discrimination on the following grounds will be made:
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Age
It is viewed that a sample size of no less that 100 participants is required.

The participants will be recruited by the following methods over a space of one calendar month during the ‘off-season’:
  • Radio advert on Sport Radio
  • Magazine advert within specialised rugby publications
  • Newspaper advert in The Dominion Post
Upon entering the testing session, participants will be asked to read, and if they chose, to sign a consent statement describing the procedure for the study. After signing and returning the consent form, subjects will be asked to complete a demographics questionnaire assessing their age, gender, and the degree that they considered themselves to be a sport fan. Responses to this scale item rang from “I am not at all a sport fan (1)” to “I am very much a sport fan (8)”.

After the demographic questionnaires are completed, the participants will be asked to complete the Sport Fan Motivation Scale (SFMS).

After the questionnaires are completed and returned, the researcher will explain the nature of the study, answer all questions, and excuse the subjects.
The testing sessions should probably lass less than 30 minutes.

Rugby game historical data (win/loss, expected/unexpected) will be collected covering the time span of the participant’s first and last attendance.

Correlation between the following factors will be analysed:
  • Win/lose of the team – attendance by participants
  • Expected/unaccepted – attendance by participants

It is anticipated that there are no expected risk or benefits to the participants of this research.

The author has no prior knowledge of any Maori influence (negative or positive) that may appear within the results and therefore does not see the requirement to hold specific Maori consultation.

Expected outcomes / impacts
Firstly it is hoped by the author that the title of the study stands true and that there truly is a CORF-less attitude to rugby within the Wellington region.
It is then hoped that the results will highlight a positive correlation between some motivational factor, behaviour trait or other measured item and the CORF-less attitude enabling further studies to track this within the wider New Zealand community.

Boen, F., Vanbeselaere, N., & Feys, J. (2002). Behavioral Consequences of Fluctuating Group Success: An Internet Study of Soccer-Team Fans. Journal of Social Psychology, 142(6), 769-782.

Bray, S. R., & Widmeyer, W. N. (2000). Athlete's Perceptions of the Home Advantage: An Investigation of Perceived Causal Factors. Journal of Sport Behavior, 23(1), 1-10.

Cialdini, R. B., Borden, R. J., Thorne, A., Walker, M. R., Freeman, S., & Sloane, L. R. (1976). Basking in reflected glory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 366-375.

Clark, A. E., & Oswald, A. J. (2002). A simple statistical method for measuring how life events affect happiness. International Journal of Epidemiology, 31, 1139-1144.

Dietz-Uhler, B., & Murrell, A. (1999). Examining Fan Reactions to Game Outcomes: A Longitudinal Study of Social Identity. Journal of Sport Behavior, 22(1), 15-28.

Hastorf, A. H., & Cantril, H. (1954). They saw a game: A case study. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 49, 129-134.

Madrigal, R. (1995). Cognitive and Affective Determinants of Fan Satisfaction with Sporting Event Attendance. Journal of Leisure Research, 27(3), 205-227.

Snyder, C. R., Lassegard, M., & Ford, C. E. (1986). Distancing after group success and failure: Basking in reflected glory and cutting off reflected failure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 382-388.

Wann, D. L., Schrader, M. P., & Wilson, A. M. (1999). Sport Fan Motivation: Questionnaire Validation, Comparisons by Sport and Relationship to Athletic Motivation. Journal of Sport Behavior, 22(1), 114-140.

Wann, D. L., & Dolan, T. J. (1994). Attributions of Highly Identified Sports Spectators. Journal of Social Psychology, 134(6), 783-793.

Wann, D. L., Hamlet, M. A., Wilson, T. M., & Hodges, J. A. (1995). Basking in Reflected Glory, Cutting Off Reflected Failure, and Cutting Off Future Failure: The Importance of Group Identification. Social Behaviour and Personality, 23(4), 377-388.


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