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Forum To Delve Into Minds Of Sports Fans

Oct. 20, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Professors from three different universities across the country will examine the minds of fans such as SHSU's Kat Krazies during "The Mind of a Sport Fan" forum on Oct. 27.

Three nationally recognized experts on sports psychology and behavior will go inside “The Mind of a Sport Fan” during a forum hosted by SHSU’s sport management program and the departments of health and kinesiology and psychology on Thursday (Oct. 27).

The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. in College of Humanities and Social Sciences Building Room C-070.

The research symposium will include Dan Wann, professor of psychology at Murray State University; Rick Grieve, professor of psychology at Western Kentucky University; and Jeff James, professor of sport management at Florida State University.

The three will discuss a research symposium on different areas of sports fan behaviors and issues.

The psychology of sports fan behavior is not only important to sports management students within the department because it influences every part of the job they are being trained to do, but also for other sports fans who may be directly impacted by the behaviors of others, according to Ryan Zapalac, assistant chair and assistant professor in SHSU’s health and kinesiology department.

“With so many notable examples of fan violence in the media in recent months, having a better understanding of the mind of the sports fan is critical to managing a large facility that is packed with tens of thousands of people,” he said. “For example, why did the beating of the San Francisco Giants fan take place in Los Angeles? Why did the riots take place in Vancouver in June 2011 after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup? More importantly, could something have been done by examining psychological determinants of spectator and fan behavior prior to the loss?”

The psychological underpinnings of why people paint their faces and stand out in below zero-degree weather to show that they are a “true fan” or engage in superstitions that have no direct influence on a game are “also important to a more complete understanding of human behavior,” Zapalac said.

“We are hoping that attendees will be able to leave with a better understanding of why fans engage in their behaviors that they do while at a sporting event. Such an understanding could help impact their, or others', behaviors while at future events, thus providing a safer and more enjoyable experience for all,” he said. “Most people are a sports fan at some level; therefore, there is something for everyone at this particular lecture series."

Grieve, who also coordinates WKU’s clinical psychology master's program, has been examining the behavior of sports fans since the late-1990s and has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, including USA Today, The Washington Post, The Detroit Free Press, Reuters, ESPN Radio, and Prevention magazine, Parade, as well as professional journals.

James, chair of FSU’s sport management department, researches topics in sports marketing, with a specific focus on sports consumer psychology, focusing on better understanding the different relationships people form with sports and sports teams, and the impact on cognition and behavior relative to the strength of an individual's relationship with a sports team.

He has conducted research on the development, maintenance, and erosion of fan loyalty, the transference of loyalty, and the development of a sports identity.

Wann, who also is a member of the executive board of directors for the National Alliance for Youth Sports, has been studying the psychology of sports fans and spectators since the mid-1980s, with a particular interest in fan identification (a fan's psychological connection to a team), spectator violence, and the actions of parents as spectators at youth sporting events.

He has published two books—“Sport Psychology” and “Sport Fans: The Psychology and Social Impact of Spectators”—authored more than 100 referred journal articles, has given more than 60 conference presentations and has been interviewed by more than 300 media outlets on the topic of sports fans and parental involvement in sports.

He also has been hired as a consultant to several national businesses and sport organizations, including the Professional Golfers' Association, Taylor Made Golf, the National Basketball Association, ARAMARK/Major League Baseball, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to assist them in their understanding of sports fans.

“The Mind of a Sport Fan” forum is open to all aficionados from the SHSU and local communities.

For more information, contact Zapalac at rkz001@shsu.edu or 936.294.4575.

 

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