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Fan empathy as a response to athlete transgressions

journal contribution
posted on 06.03.2020, 15:01 by Kate Westberg, Constantino Stavros, Francis Farrelly, Aaron Smith
Sport has the capacity to intimately engage fans, deliver intensely emotional experiences, and create attachments to athletes and teams. This connection can be threatened by a number of actions or incidents, including scandals, and fans may engage in a range of behaviors to protect their identification. The purpose of this study is to explore and explicate the concept of fan empathy and illuminate the processes that fans engage in that lead to an empathetic response. Using data from online discussion forums and in-depth interviews, the authors examined empathy in the context of athlete misbehavior and indiscretions. Results provide evidence for the concept of fan empathy as both a cognitive and emotionally focused response, extending the current knowledge of fan behavior. Further, the findings reveal five sensemaking processes that facilitate an empathetic response in the context of inappropriate athlete behavior. This research has implications for sport managers seeking to manage and maintain relationships with fans, including in the face of actions or behavior that might threaten fan identification and association with the sport entity.

History

School

  • Loughborough University London

Published in

Sport Management Review

Volume

23

Issue

4

Pages

719-735

Publisher

Elsevier

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand

Publisher statement

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Sport Management Review and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smr.2019.09.007.

Acceptance date

29/09/2019

Publication date

2019-10-15

Copyright date

2020

ISSN

1441-3523

Language

en

Depositor

Prof Aaron Smith. Deposit date: 6 March 2020

Exports

Read the paper on the publisher website

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