The impact of knowledge of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and perceived violence on sport spectator enjoyment

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This dissertation investigated how the enjoyment of violent hits in mediated sport is affected by knowledge of CTE and perceived on-field violence. Additionally, this study reviewed the implications of the findings on practitioners in the field of public relations in sport. Zillmann, Bryant, and Sapolsky's (1989) disposition theory of sport spectatorship was employed to measure several factors affecting enjoyment of mediated sport. Despite the quantity of research surrounding sport media enjoyment, the field has not been explored following the media coverage of the ongoing litigation between the NFL and over 4,500 current and former NFL players. This gap in research requires further exploration into the effects of knowledge of CTE on spectator's enjoyment. This dissertation employed a within subjects survey to empirically analyze the importance of knowledge of CTE and its affect on perceived levels of violence, as well as the way these two factors combine to affect the overall spectator enjoyment of violent hits in football. The survey consisted of pre-stimuli measures, a collection of 16 football plays and post-stimuli measures following each play. Self-report was used to measure enjoyment while participants viewed the football plays online. The study revealed many interesting findings the enjoyment of mediated sporting violence. For instance, results showed that the variable for knowledge of long-term injuries impacted enjoyment of mediated sporting violence. Knowledge of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy was shown to have a positive relationship with enjoyment at lower levels of violence and a negative relationship with enjoyment at high levels of violence. Results also showed that the largest percentage of spectators found the most enjoyment at intermediate levels of violence while levels of extremely high and low levels of violence were enjoyed by spectators with higher levels of fanship. Another interesting finding of this dissertation was discovered in the mean enjoyment level across the 16 condition levels presented in the study. The overall mean enjoyment for each condition level increase as violence increases except in the conditions for high levels of violence when the home team was hitting the team with high level of rivalry, and also when the home team was getting hit by a team with a low level of rivalry. Therefore, there is not a linear relationship between enjoyment and violence at all conditions. All of the level four hits were ranked higher in enjoyment than all level two hits; however, they were not ranked higher than all level three hits. This indicates a point of diminishing return for the impact of violence on enjoyment for certain conditions, but not all conditions. By testing a new variable in conjunction with previously explored variables in the exploration of enjoyment of mediated sporting violence, the current study was able to advance both the disposition theory of sport spectatorship and measures used to examine level of violence used by previous researchers. The theoretical and practical implications of this dissertation are discussed in the final chapter.

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