Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Arthur-Banning, Skye

Committee Member

Baker, Thomas

Committee Member

Barcelona, Robert

Abstract

Fan attendance rates are a vital part to college athletics. With most athletic programs already losing money for universities, the recent decline in attendance rates has added further stress to budgets (Fulks, 2010). Most of the research on sports fans examines the socio-motivational and psychological motivations for attending games. Fan research has primarily focused on English soccer and American baseball, with little focus being placed on college soccer. While sports like college soccer do not generate enough revenue to sustain themselves, athletic departments still need to maintain positive attendance numbers at these events. Non-revenue sports provide free publicity and advertisement for universities which is one reason why colleges increased their contribution to athletics by 28% in 2009 (Drape & Thomas, 2010).This creates a need to understand college soccer fans. This study will look at nine Clemson men's soccer matches using a one way analysis of variance for different psychological and physical variables that influence a fan's attendance. This process will help identify what aspects have an impact on live-match attendance and will further explain the fluctuation in attendance numbers. The study uses a multiple methods approach to gather information about a fan's opinions on different variables. The survey expands upon observable motivations by examining the fan's opinion on each element (quality, escape, boredom/avoidance, social, entertainment, sport atmosphere, game data, game players, and game weather). This expansion further develops the understanding of what influences a fans attendance to games by looking at what fans indicate determines their attendance and what actually occurs during the course of a season. The second part of the survey examines social influences and other motivations that cannot be observed: quality of the game, escape, boredom avoidance, social, entertainment, and sport atmosphere. The survey was compared to the six physical variables: weather, opponent, team record, giveaways/promotions, weekday and time of the event. This process helped identify what aspects had an impact on live-match attendance and further explain the fluctuation in attendance numbers. The study revealed that different age groups, gender, and relationship to the university had significant difference as far as their motivation to attend live matches. The results of this study noticed a significant influence when examining the age of the participant, gender, and their relationship to the university (whether they were an active part of the institution) in relation to the nine game variables: quality, escape, boredom/avoidance, social, entertainment, sport atmosphere, game data, game players, and game weather. By understanding the impact of these game variables on the three demographic groups (age, gender, and active member), universities can better account for the rise and fall of fan attendance and institute different strategies to overcome these fluctuations.

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