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Rivalry in Major League Soccer: Antecedents to rival fan discrimination

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We surveyed over 400 fans in MLS, representing each team. The rivalry survey data is available at www.KnowRivalry.com. Regarding their favorite team, each respondent was asked about the importance of 11 elements of rivalry, according to Tyler and Cobbs, 2015. Statistical tests reveal that fans are significantly more discriminatory toward rival fans on four measures of animosity when either the antecedent of cultural difference or unfairness is important to the rivalry, compared to fans of rivalries where theses two antecedents were unimportant or neutral. Yet, this same pattern did not repeat itself for the other 9 antecedents of rivalry.

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Rivalry in Major League Soccer: Antecedents to rival fan discrimination

  1. 1. Rivalry in Major League Soccer: Antecedents to rival fan discrimination Joe Cobbs, Northern Kentucky University B. David Tyler, Western Carolina University
  2. 2. Literature Review What is Rivalry? A rival is "a highly salient outgroup that poses acute threat to ingroup identity and/or esteem." (Tyler & Cobbs, 2017) • Social Identity Theory o People associate with others similar to self to reinforce self-image and position in society (Mael & Ashforth, 2001; Tajfel, 1974; Turner, 1975) • Schadenfreude/GORFing o Pleasure in others’ misfortune (Dalakas & Melancon, 2012; Havard, 2014). • Bias in Relationships o Highly identified fans are more likely to commit acts of aggression against a rival (Wann et al., 2003; Wann et al., 1999). • Positive effects o Self-concept: esteem, cohesion, distinctiveness (Berendt & Uhrich, 2016) o Match attendance, TV ratings (McDonald & Rascher, 2000; Tainsky & Jasielec, 2014)
  3. 3. Old Firm
  4. 4. Rivalry Dimensions Tyler & Cobbs, 2015
  5. 5. Eternal Derby (Belgrade) OTHERS Skopje derby (Macedonia): FK Vardar (Christians) vs. Sloga Jugomagnat (Muslims) (Dmowski, 2013) India: Mohun Bagan (original settlers) vs. East Bengal (newcomer immigrants) (Majumdar, 2008) Red Star vs. Partizan
  6. 6. MLS Rivalry
  7. 7. Method Sample • Qualtrics online survey • Respondents recruited from online message boards • Name favorite team • Who are the rivals of that team? • Allocate 100 rivalry points across one or more of that team’s opponents • Rate importance of each rivalry element (Tyler & Cobbs, 2015) • N = 419 valid • 94% male; 32 years old • ID 4.9/7 (Mael & Ashforth, 1992) • Dependent variables (Dalakas & Melancon, 2012; Elsbach & Bhattacharya, 2001; Mael & Ashforth, 1992; Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995) • prejudice (M = 4.32, SD = 1.61) • discrimination (M = 3.02, SD = 1.38) • schadenfreude (M = 3.54, SD = 1.72) • dis-ID (M = 3.66, SD = 1.57)
  8. 8. What is the Most Important Element?
  9. 9. Ratings of 11 Rivalry Elements
  10. 10. What Element Sparks Animosity?
  11. 11. Create 3 groups per Element Cell N range 48-192
  12. 12. Relationship Discrimination e.g. “I would be less likely to marry a(n) [Rival Team] fan than a fan of the typical team.”
  13. 13. Schadenfreude e.g. “I will feel joy if a player from the [Rival Team] gets suspended for a year, even if the suspension was not completely deserved.”
  14. 14. Dis-identification e.g. “When someone criticizes the [Rival Team], it feels like a personal compliment.”
  15. 15. Prejudice e.g. “[Rival Team’s] fans are more obnoxious than the fans of a typical team.”
  16. 16. What Elements Spark Animosity? “I can tell you that my distaste for LA goes well beyond soccer, I find them culturally plastic, materialistic, vapid, and shallow. “ “Extremely proud of French heritage. Toronto loathes our French-ness” “Dempsey skipping allocation order, made up league rules” “'Those bastards got Dempsey!” “League caters heavily to facilitate NYRBs success”
  17. 17. Rivalry, the Fine Line

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