Becoming Sport Fans: Relative Deprivation and Social Identity

Yong Chae Rhee, John Wong, Yukyoum Kim


This study explores how people become sport fans by elucidating why people support teams even when they are unsuccessful. This study fills a gap in the literature on sport fan behavior by applying Relative Deprivation and Social Identification Theories to understand sport fans’ seemingly irrational behavior. We conducted a series of interviews with 17 sport fans with diverse backgrounds. Findings suggest that interaction among Community Identification, Relative Deprivation, Team Identification, Sport Involvement and Representativeness of a sport team helps explain why people support certain teams and become fans, regardless of team success. Findings suggest that team Representativeness in a specific community is one of the most important factors influencing people to become fans. We also found that sport involvement is very important, especially if relative deprivation can elicit team identification from people with little to no sport involvement. Further research may identify the exact relationship between sport involvement and relative deprivation.

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International Journal of Business Administration
ISSN 1923-4007(Print) ISSN 1923-4015(Online)


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