Does locality predict sport fandom?: an examination of local, non-local, and distant nba fans in the United States and China

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University of Alabama Libraries

With the development of globalization and the aid of technology, geographical boundaries have become less salient in various aspects of modern society, including sport. Plenty of professional sports leagues have made global plans to expand their business to overseas markets, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) has stood at the forefront of this expansion process. Using an online survey, the current study examines the differences between NBA local fans (American fans who like the local NBA team), non-local fans (American fans who like the non-local NBA team), and distant fans (Chinese NBA fans) in terms of their (1) team identification (2) player identification, (3) fanship, (4) fandom, (5) motivation for sport consumption, and (6) fan behavior. Results showed that distant fans reported higher scores in player identification, fandom, most motives and fan behaviors, suggesting that in general, distant fans (Chinese fans) tend to obtain a higher level of connection with NBA compared with local and non-local fans (both are American fans). Findings also uncovered the similarity of loyal fans’ attitudes and behaviors regardless of their geographical location; however, locality could predict a big difference among casual fans. This study emerges as one of the first studies to analyze sport fans via a lens of locality, especially comparing non-local fans and distant fans. Theoretical and applied ramifications are both outlined, along with a call for increased scholarly attention for this locality influence within sport business.

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Communication, Journalism