Origin of Adverse Fan Behavior and Habits

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 7
Words: 1665
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: PhD


Incidents such as the November 23, 2002 fan riot when the Buckeyes (Ohio State University) defeated the wolverines (University of Michigan) is but one of the numerous examples of adverse fan behavior that occur after and even during game day. Examples of such behavior come in the form of fights, shouting, taunting the losers, considerable binge drinking, inappropriate clothing (i.e. going shirtless during the game), and other forms of similarly adverse behavior. The origin of such problems is supposedly alcohol related however there is also something to be said regarding “mob mentality” being an instigator of such actions.

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Studies such as those by Crosby (2006) explain that the origin of such adverse behavioral outbursts during game day can be traced to the “energy” surrounding such games wherein a combination of a sense of camaraderie with the players, the excitement of the game, along with a higher level of emotions result in a propensity for greater levels of emotional outbursts.

From the perspective of Glassman, Braun, Dodd, Miller & Miller (2010) who delved into sporting events and its impact on fan behavior, the source of the various negative behavioral tendencies that were mentioned earlier is based on a type of irrational exuberance that influences the actions of people who attend the games. Irrational exuberance can be defined as the process by which a person models their actions on the behavior of other people without sufficient justification as to why they should act in this particular fashion (Glassman et al., 2010).

Examples of this can be seen in instances of peer pressure, the behavior of “going along with the crowd” and even manifests itself as a form of social conformity wherein a person acts like those around them in order to be associated with a particular group of individuals. In the case of game day behavior, this manifests itself in various rioting behaviors, binge drinking and other types of adverse group activities which come about through irrational exuberance. When irrational exuberance enters into the picture, people simply do not think of the consequences of their actions and act in a manner that is based on group behavior. This of course is a potentially disastrous type of behavioral predisposition given the volatility of “mob mentality” which the fan riot on the grounds of Ohio State University has shown.

It should be noted though that these behavioral predispositions are not evident in all sporting events. In their examination of the various franchises of the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL, Glassman, Braun, Reindl & Whewell (2011) pointed to the fact that while there was rowdy fan behavior at times, it did not escalate to the same levels as those seen during game day for collegiate level franchises (Glassman et al., 2011). However, Glassman et al. (2011) did point out that the same behavioral predisposition was evident in games involving soccer in South America and Europe where mob mentality often resulted in post game rioting in various soccer games.

In trying to explain why this occurs, Glassman,, Werch, Jobli & Bian (2007) posit that there may be environmental facilitators of irrational exuberance which influence people at such games to act in an adverse manner which are not present at the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL to considerable degree. Glassman et al. (2010) point to the possibility that the accessibility of alcohol in such games results in a lowering of inhibitions which, when combined with irrational exuberance, results in the adverse fan behavior that was noted early on.

From an ethical marketing perspective, if the assertions of Glassman are correct involving alcohol being a precursor towards negative fan behavior and rioting, then practices involving the promotion of alcohol sales to students by companies and local bars alike during game day should be stopped in order to prevent the industry from contributing towards a form of socially adverse behavior. On the other end of the spectrum, if the assertions of Glassman are wrong and the problem is more in line with mob mentality, then there really would not be a problem with marketing the sale of alcohol during games. The necessity of understanding the origins of such a problem is a necessity given the necessity of proper marketing ethics.

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Based on the perspective of Des Rosier et al. (2013) alcohol and its capacity to lower an individual’s inhibitions is one of the main problems when it comes to rowdy game day behavior. As such, the best solution according to Des Rosier et al. (2013) would be to simply prevent the sale of alcohol before and during game day to university students as well as prevent its consumption during the game itself.

Examples of such preventive measures can be seen in the activities of the University of Michigan, UCLA, the University of Texas as well as the University of West Virginia wherein stringent measures have been applied to curb alcohol consumption during game day in order to prevent students from becoming inebriated during the event. The end result has actually been relatively successful given that adverse student behaviors during home games has actually been reduced to the point that there has been fewer riots and sudden outbursts of fighting between the attendees.

On the other end of the spectrum, studies such as those by ( ) claim that it is more of a mob mentality that influences negative fan behavior rather than alcohol on its own. What must be understood is that the audience to such games are not limited to the students of the University itself but also extend to local residents in and around the University premises, the families of the players and University personnel.

As such, not all individuals who participate in disorderly conduct during the event are inebriated. Negative behaviors in this case refer to incidents where audience members act in a disorderly conduct such as, but not limited to, the following behaviors: shouting profanities, going topless to the event, insulting the members of the opposing team, showcasing lewd behavior, and other similar types of conduct (Glassman, Dodd, Sheu, Rienzo & Wagenaar, 2010).

One way of resolving such an issue in various Universities was to implement a code of conduct that all audience members must adhere to when attending the games. Such a code of conduct would focus on prevent adverse behaviors that would cast the attendance of such games in a negative light with violations of set rules being punishable by severe sanctions from the University. The reasoning behind the imposition of severe sanctions is based on the necessity of curtailing the behavior in such a way that audience members would actively obey the codes of conduct instead of merely taking it into consideration (Kavussanu, 2006).

The problem with merely suggesting a manner in which the audience should act during the games leaves it open for them to still act in an irresponsible fashion. By implementing a system of punishment, this creates a more effective means of discouraging adverse behavior which in turn would create a better viewing environment for all other parties (Kavussanu, 2006).

When examining the various viewpoints regarding the origin of negative fan behavior and habits during games and what methods can be implemented to prevent them, it can be seen that there are numerous opposing viewpoints to take into consideration. Does the marketing and sale of alcohol result in negative behavior or is merely the “energy” and mob mentality of a game day that manifests such behaviors. Understanding the origin of such behaviors is important given the necessity of avoiding adverse behavioral activities from occurring during games.

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Document Analysis

As explained by Merriam (2009), a research study that relies almost entirely on academic literature without other methods of external data collection runs the risk of being confined primarily to the results exhibited by the research studies utilized (Merriam 2009, pp 135-165). This can result in a study that is severely constrained in terms of the number of factors that it is capable of encompassing especially in situations where the research subject that is being examined is focused on a narrowly specific topic (Merriam 2009, pp 135-165).

On the other hand, relying purely on academic literature in order to investigate a particular study does have its advantages since it reduces the amount of time need during the initial stages of preliminary research and enables the research to more effectively justify the results presented by indicating that they had already been verified by previous researchers (Merriam 2009, pp 135-165). It is based on this that this research project will primarily focus on document based research as the method of examination for this study.

Study Limitations

The primary limitation of this study is that it relies on document based research as the source for all the information and views that will be presented. The use of other methods of research and analysis such as a survey, narrative analysis, or other forms of research will be eschewed in favor of focusing entirely on the collected data and results of other researchers. Merriam (2009) elaborates on document based research by stating that document based methods of analysis primarily concerns itself with an examination of various academic texts in order to draw conclusions on a particular topic (Merriam 2009, pp 139-165).

While each method of analysis does have its own level of strengths such as in the case of a narrative analysis that enables a researcher to utilize learning and adaptation approaches in order to examine various types of data, it should be noted that a document analysis is far easier to do and has a higher degree of academic veracity as compared to narrative based research which can often result in mistaken conclusions (Merriam 2009, pp 32-165).

Another limitation of the research in this paper is that it focuses primarily On game day habits and behaviors of fans. The reason behind this is connected to the desire of the researcher to focus on the problems that are brought about by such behaviors and habits, such alcohol or mob mentality.

Reference List

Crosby, M. (2006). College students’ perceptions of university identification and football game day attire. College Student Journal, 40(4), 740-749.

Des Rosiers, S. E., Schwartz, S. J., Zamboanga, B. L., Ham, L. S., & Huang, S. (2013). A Cultural and Social Cognitive Model ot Differences in Acculturation Orientations, Alcohol Expectancies, and Alcohol-Related Risk Behaviors Among Hispanic College Students. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 69(4), 319-340.

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Glassman, T., Braun, R. E., Dodd, V., Miller, J. M., & Miller, E. (2010). Using the Theory of Planned Behavior to Explain the Drinking Motivations of Social, High-Risk, and Extreme Drinkers on Game Day. Journal Of Community Health, 35(2), 172-181

Glassman, T., Braun, R., Reindl, D. M., & Whewell, A. (2011). Blood (Breath) Alcohol Concentration Rates of College Football Fans on Game Day. Journal Of Alcohol & Drug Education, 55(2), 55-73.

Glassman, T. J., Dodd, V. J., Sheu, J., Rienzo, B. A., & Wagenaar, A. C. (2010). Extreme Ritualistic Alcohol Consumption Among College Students on Game Day. Journal Of American College Health, 58(5), 413-423.

Glassman, T., Werch, C. E., Jobli, E., & Bian, H. (2007). Alcohol-Related Fan Behavior on College Football Game Day. Journal Of American College Health, 56(3), 255-260.

Kavussanu, M. (2006). Motivational predictors of pro-social and antisocial behavior in football. Journal Of Sports Sciences, 24(6), 575-588.

Merriam, S. (2009). Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation, John Wiley & Sons.