Examining Student Football Fandom and Viewing Motivations: A Gender Analysis
 
Student researcher

Dunja Antunovic, Graduate student
Emma Bedor, Graduate student
Cate Buckley, Graduate student
Kristen McAuley, Graduate student

This paper was based on a project as part of the Comm 506 course

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

Introduction

In recent decades, sport fandom has emerged as an area of scholarly interest in multiple areas of communication studies including media effects research and market research.  This study aims to address gender differences in sport and examine whether gender has an effect on what it means to be a fan of a sports team.  More specifically, this study examines the role that gender plays in fan identification and motivation for being a fan of college football at a large public university with a dominant football culture. 

RESEARCH QUESTION(S) AND HYPOTHESES:

This study had two main research questions with related hypotheses:

RQ1: For Penn State students, controlling for campus, what is the relationship between gender and level of fan identification?

Hypothesis 1a: Male students are more likely than female students to identify as Penn State football fans.

Hypothesis 1b: Male students are more likely than female students to report being knowledgeable about Penn State football.

RQ2:  For Penn State students, controlling for campus, what is the relationship between gender and level of fan motivation?

Hypothesis 2a: Male students are more likely than female students to be motivated by eustress/arousal.

Hypothesis 2b: Female students are more likely than male students to be motivated by the aesthetic appeal of the football players.

Hypothesis 2c: Female students are more likely than male students to be motivated to watch PSU football in order to feel a part of a group.

Hypothesis 2d: Hypothesis 2d: Female students are more likely than male students to be motivated to watch PSU football out of habit.

Hypothesis 2e: Male students are more likely than female students to be motivated to watch PSU football to relax, for entertainment and enjoyment purposes.

Method

Data was collected through an online survey that was administered to students at Penn State Behrend in Erie, PA and at Penn State Main Campus in University Park, PA.  Respondents were asked to complete at 15 minute (approximate) survey asking questions regarding fan motivation in reference to Penn State football fandom.
The sample was made up of 101 males and 40 females (N = 141).  The independent variables examined were gender and campus while the dependent variables examined were: identification to culture, knowledge, escape, eustress, habit, and group affiliation. These variables were measured to examine fan motivation and identification.

Results

Students at University Park felt more connected to the PSU community than students at Behrend.  One-way ANOVA analysis showed a significant difference between campuses for knowledge and the motivations of eustress and aesthetics.  Knowledge at Behrend (M = 3.04, SE = .09) was less than knowledge for University Park (M = 4.14, SE = .17).
A chi-square test of independence showed that there was no significant difference between gender for fan identification.  Only a slightly greater percentage of male students (66.34%) identified as Penn State football fans than female students (62.5%).

Conclusions

No statistical significance between the percentage of males and the percentage of females who identified as PSU football fans was found in this study. Perceiving oneself as more knowledgeable about sports was correlated with watching sports and not necessarily because of one’s sex.

This study adds to the prior scholarship on sport fandom that examines sex and gender.  This finding is consistent with a previous study that indicated females are just as likely as males to be sports fans.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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Media Effects Research Lab at College of Communications, Penn State University