Date of Award

12-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Backman, Sheila

Committee Member

Ramshaw , Gregory

Committee Member

Denham , Bryan

Committee Member

Sanderson , Jimmy

Abstract

Allegiance has long been considered one of the most notable research topics in sport studies (Funk & Pastore, 2000; Wann & Branscombe 1990). Allegiant fans are those who have formed strong connections to their favorite team, and these attitudes strengthen their psychological involvement. Twitter has grown dramatically since its inception in 2006, totaling more than 500 million users as of early 2013 (Gupta, Goel, Lin, Sharma, Wang, & Zadeh, 2013). Twitter is one of the most popular communication technologies used by both fans and sport organizations (Clavio, 2011), and allows individuals, organizations, and other social groups to connect with one another (Hambrick, Simmons, Greenhalgh, & Greenwell, 2010). The purpose of this study was to examine the mediating effects of Twitter on the formation of fan allegiance using the revised Psychological Continuum Model (PCM), which reflects fans' psychological development to allegiance with a particular sport team. Subjects (N = 412) were collected from fans attending four men's baseball games at Clemson university during the spring 2013 season. Of the 412 collected surveys, only 212 were Twitter users who followed the Clemson Men's Baseball team's Twitter account. The results demonstrated a significant relationship between Twitter usage and team allegiance reflected through a high level of psychological connection to a specific team. Based on the results of this study, practitioners can identify a unique market segment from surveyed participants, which could help them attract and reach team allegiance through Twitter. Specifically, more Twitter usage regarding a specific team influences fans with weak attachments, to strengthen their attachment toward a team and increase their Twitter usage. Since this study shows the positive relationship between the frequency of Twitter usage and fan allegiance, it could target participants with lesser Twitter usage to increase their frequency, thus, increasing new marketing and communication strategy related to Twitter. Finally, the empirical evidence of this study can provide a better understanding of the growing phenomena of social media and the trends of Twitter usage in sport study context. This study could extend to include other kinds of social media and their effectiveness during interactions between sport organizations and sport fans.

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