Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Marketing and Fashion Merchandising

First Advisor

Jamye Foster

Advisor Department

Marketing and Fashion Merchandising


The sports industry is highly profitable, with a large and diverse fan base. Many people claim to be loyal to different teams, but what moves a more ‘casual fan’ to the team ‘fanatic’ status? Prior research in sports marketing focuses on elements such as geography and family history, while general marketing research considers the impact of behavioral and emotional loyalty (Chaudhuri and Holbrook, 2001). This focus on strict loyalty can, however, be limiting. Examining the factors within the larger relationship context gives us more insight into extreme fans (Pimentel & Reynolds, 2004), as well as the more casual fan. Prior research has argued that relationships are built on repeated interactions (Fournier, 1998; Foster 2010); therefore, a key distinction between a fan who is merely loyal, and one who is in a true relationship with the brand is the presence of interaction. The current study considers socialization, proximity, attitude toward the team brand, self-image congruence, and brand loyalty (emotional connection and behavioral intentions) to determine which leads to actual interaction with the sports team brand. Regression analysis is used to test the hypotheses, and results provide both theoretical and managerial implications.

Included in

Marketing Commons