Sports games and large sporting events consistently trigger deep feelings of unity around the world, and the Olympic Games are no exception. They are a rare phenomenon, not because of their occurrence but because of the way they permeate cultures on a global scale. The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games garnered roughly 1.92 billion viewers worldwide.
In this study following the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, a group of researchers analyzed the differences and similarities between levels of fandom. Using these analyses, the researchers then determined the differing ways in which sports fans consume media and how that might be beneficial to predict future media consumption.
The researchers surveyed a convenience sample of 2,245 participants from six major participating countries and asked them a set of questions to determine specific levels of fandom and the progression of identification through the processes of awareness, attraction, attachment, and allegiance.
The study analyzed the differences between general sports fans and Winter Olympic fans, as well as the differences between specific feelings of nationality, patriotism, and internationalism and how these are influenced by mega-sports events such as the Olympic Games. All of these were factors then considered in the light of media consumption as well as national identity.
The study concluded that general sports fanship is a direct predictor of Olympic televisual consumption, but not necessarily social or digital media consumption. Additionally, there was a strong correlation between general fanship for the Winter Olympics and internationalism, but not nationalism or patriotism. However, the more a person cared for his/her specific national team directly impacted feelings of nationality.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that content development strategies would benefit from understanding where sports fans consume media while also understanding the cultural implications of major sporting events in regards to global unity.
Kenon A. Brown, Andrew C. Billings, Michael Devlin & Natalie Brown-Devlin (2020) “Rings of Fandom: Overlapping Motivations of Sport, Olympic, Team and Home Nation Fans in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 64:1, 20-40, DOI: 10.1080/08838151.2019.1689741