The Role of Psychological Commitment and Attitudinal Loyalty on The Relationship Between Involvement and Behavioral Loyalty of Sport Fans

Submitted by Tzetzis George and Tachis Stavros


Despite the recent rapid spread of leisure involvement and loyalty research, very little attention has been given to the conceptualization of the nature of involvement’s relationship with loyalty of sport fans. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty intervene in the relationship between sport fans’ involvement and their behavioral loyalty to a soccer team. The participants were 880 soccer fans. Regression equations were estimated to assess the role of psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty as mediators. Inter-correlations among the constructs did not suggest extreme multi-collinearity and indicated an adequate amount of discriminant validity. The results indicate that psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty intervene in the relationship between sport fans’ involvement and their behavioral loyalty to the soccer teams. It is suggested that marketing strategies may be developed to strengthen psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty in order to maximize behavioral loyalty.


Sports organizations are seeking ways to understand the underlying factors of sport spectator loyalty in order to positively influence their behavioral intentions and to increase attendance. Consumer loyalty has long been recognized as a key factor for customer retention. Loyalty in the context of consumption is a “deeply held commitment to rebuy or repatronise a preferred product/service consistently in the future” (Oliver, 1999, p.34). The researchers have demonstrated that increases in consumer retention lead to greater profit (Reicheld & Sasser, 1990) and that the costs of customer retention are substantially less than the costs of new customer acquisition (Fornell & Wernerfelt, 1987).

While the importance of the loyalty construct is widely recognized, the conditions and variables that foster consumer loyalty for a specific product or service may vary. Oliver (1999) asserted that loyalty in the context of sports consumption may be different from loyalty towards a brand, vendor or store. Research in leisure settings proposed the relationship between involvement, psychological commitment and loyalty because consumer loyalty is a key consideration for customer retention (Bennett & Bove 2002). While the importance of the loyalty construct is widely recognized, the variables that influence consumer loyalty for different sport environments may vary. Understanding the variables that influence loyalty may assist sports organizations in their management of spectator attendance and retention. Soccer attendance is probably the most popular leisure activity among European sport fans, generating huge economic revenues (Andreff, 2007; Ascari & Gagnepain, 2006; Frick & Prinz, 2006). The challenge for sport marketers is to retain, or increase the attendance.

The aim of this research was to explore variables that influence behavioral loyalty towards team sports, specifically professional soccer teams. This study extends prior sports marketing research by examining the role of fan involvement with their team and commitment on loyalty. Furthermore, fan’s loyalty was examined as attitudinal loyalty (resistance to change) and behavioral loyalty (past and future behaviors). Specifically, this study proposes that psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty mediate the effect of involvement on behavioral loyalty in a professional sports context.


Many researchers examined the concepts of involvement, psychological commitment and loyalty of consumers in leisure (Havitz & Dimanche, 1997; Iwasaki & Havitz, 1998, 2004; Kyle, Absher, Norman, Hammitt & Jodice, 2007; Kyle, Graefe, Manning & Bacon, 2003) and spectator sport settings (Funk, Beaton & Alexandris, 2012; Funk, Filo, Beaton & Pritchard, 2009; Funk & James 2001, 2006; Kim, James & Kim, 2012; Mahony, Madrigal & Howard, 2000). However, the relationship between involvement and loyalty in the context of sport fans is not well established.


Involvement has been defined as ‘a person’s perceived relevance of the object based on inherent needs, values, and interests’ (Zaichkowsky, 1985, p. 342). Leisure involvement refers to an unobservable state of motivation, arousal or interest toward a recreational activity or associated product that is evoked by a particular or stimulus that possesses drive properties (Havitz & Howard, 1995; Iwasaki & Havitz, 1998). This definition has been adapted recently to examine involvement of sport fans and spectators (Funk & James, 2001; Funk, Ridinger & Moorman, 2004). A variety of research dealing with involvement measurement has been conducted in leisure and sport settings (Dimanche, Havitz & Howard, 1993; Kerstetter & Kovich, 1997). The vast majority of researchers have approached involvement from multidimensional perspective and the last years adapted the model that measures involvement as consisting of three dimensions: attraction, centrality and self-expression (Kyle, Graefe, Manning & Bacon, 2004a, Kyle, Graefe, Manning & Bacon, 2004b; Kyle, Bricker, Graefe & Wickham, 2004; Kyle & Mowen, 2005). McIntyre and Pigram (1992) stated that the attraction facet is a combination of importance and pleasure. Self-expression is a dimension similar to sign and refers to self-representation, the impression of oneself that the consumers wish to convey to other people through their consumption. Centrality refers to the centrality of an activity in terms of the consumer’s lifestyle. An activity is considered central if other aspects of consumer’s life are organized around the activity (Kyle, Graefe, Manning, & Bacon 2003).

Although, involvement is a widely used construct in leisure settings, its application to the spectator sport has not given considerable attention and there has been limited empirical research on the relationship between involvement and commitment and loyalty in the context of sport fans, although this relationship was proposed in Iwasaki and Havitz’s (2004) theoretical model.

Psychological Commitment

Psychological commitment, in psychology and sociology, was used to explain consumer behavior (Crosby & Taylor, 1983). Many researchers have suggested that commitment to a sport team reflects an attitude (Funk & James, 2001; Iwasaki & Havitz, 1998; Pritchard, Havitz & Howard, 1999). Heere and Dickson (2008) mentioned that in current marketing research there is a conceptual confusion and overlap between the attitudinal constructs of commitment and loyalty. Heere and Dickson (2008) suggested two different definitions for psychological commitment (as affective) and attitudinal loyalty in order to create a valid attitudinal loyalty scale. They defined commitment as “an internal psychological state of mind an individual has toward an object” (p. 230) and Wann, Melnick, Rusell and Pease (2001), as a consequence of consumers’ ability to satisfy their motivations through the consumption of that product or service. Heere and Dickson (2008) differentiated commitment from attitudinal loyalty that is defined as “the result of the interaction between negative external changes and the internal psychological connection” (p.230). In this study the mediating role of psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty for loyalty was examined as different constructs.


In sport team settings, loyalty has been characterized as a commitment to a team that persists, resists to changes and has an impact on the cognitive thoughts and behavior (Funk & James, 2006; Funk & Pastore, 2000). In order to create long term relationships, sport teams should enhance their strategies and identify the factors that affect sport fans’ loyalty. It’s important to create a loyal fan base but is also difficult because of the heterogeneous nature of the service and because the organization depends on the performance of the team (Funk & Pastore, 2000; Mahony et al., 2000; Heere & Dickson, 2008). From a marketing perspective past studies have shown that there is no universally accepted definition of loyalty (Cheng, 2011; Dick and Basu, 1994; Park and Kim, 2000). Instead, it is often conceptualized in two ways: a) loyalty as primarily an attitude that leads to a relationship with the brand and b) loyalty as an expression of revealed behavior (i.e. the pattern of previous or past purchases).

Attitudinal Loyalty To measure fan loyalty, it is necessary to understand why fans become loyal to a team. A broad range of research has focused on consumer motives for becoming involved with a sport team (Wann et al., 2001; Funk & Pastore, 2000). Attitudinal loyalty was defined by several researchers as affective commitment or affective loyalty (Kwon & Trail, 2003). Heere and Dickson (2008) suggested an alternative approach that uses items strictly chosen to measure the resistance to commitment change for the testing of attitudinal loyalty concept. Bauer, Stokburger-Sauer and Exler (2008) asserted that the attitudinal dimension of fan loyalty comprises the inner relatedness of fans to their team and distinguishes between spurious loyalty and “true” loyalty. In this study attitudinal loyalty was examined as resistance to change according to Heere and Dickson (2008) suggestion, because we argue that loyalty is best considered the individual’s resistance to change the strength of commitment rather than commitment itself (Pritchard, Havitz, & Howard 1999). Our argument proposes that commitment is an internal psychological state of mind an individual has toward an object. In contrast, attitudinal loyalty is a result of the interaction between negative external changes and the internal psychological connection.

Behavioral Loyalty Models of behavioral loyalty were primarily defined by patterns of brand allegiance or the expenditure of purchases towards a brand over a period of time (Worthington, Russell-Bennett, & Hartel 2010). Although behavioral patterns such as repeat attendance to sporting events may be the most evident manifestation of an individual’s attachment to a team, it ignores the actual behavior. Consequently, researchers have recently developed both attitudinal and both attitude and behavior measures of fan loyalty (e.g., Gladden & Funk, 2001; Hill & Green, 2000; Mahony, Madrigal, & Howard 2000; Pritchard, Havitz, & Howard, 1999). Bauer., Stokburger-Sauer, & Exler (2008) mentioned that behavioral loyalty represents past behavior and behavioral intentions. Past behavior comprises past purchasing behavior and past positive word-of-mouth. The intentional dimension represents the positive and persistent future behavior of the fan. It embraces intended loyal behavior and positive word-of-mouth, as well as cross-buying intentions (Homburg & Giering, 1999). In this study attitudinal and behavioral loyalty were both measured and behavioral loyalty was measured as the difference between past behavior and future intentions.


The relationship between involvement, psychological commitment, attitudinal and behavioral loyalty of sport fans is consistent with the belief-attitude-behavior hierarchy that has been established (Ajzen, 1991; 2000). It has been proposed in the past that beliefs play a crucial role in attitude theory and Madrigal (2001) suggested that beliefs provide the groundwork upon which attitudes are constructed and lead to behaviors. Analyzing the relationship of the constructs, involvement refers to individuals’ beliefs about a brand (Havitz & Dimanche, 1997), psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty reflect to their attitude toward the brand of service and behavioral loyalty refers to their behavior (Pritchard et al., 1999; Pritchard & Howard, 1997). Understanding the relationship between these constructs may assist sport managers in their strategies for fans attendance and development of a loyal fan base.

In leisure settings, Iwasaki and Havitz (1998) proposed a theoretical model that individuals go through psychological processes to become loyal participants including the formation of high levels of involvement, the development of psychological commitment and the maintenance of strong attitudes toward resistance to change preferences. Iwasaki and Havitz (2004) extended their model with fitness participants proposing that psychological commitment and resistance to change have a mediator role in the relationship between involvement and behavioral loyalty of participants in leisure activities. In spectator area, several researchers suggested the relationship between involvement and fans attendance, watching games on television or listening on radio and reading team news in the newspapers (Kerstetter & Kovich 1997; Shank & Beasley 1998; Funk et al. 2004). In a recent study, Bee and Havitz (2010) examined the relationship between involvement, psychological commitment, resistance to change and behavioral loyalty among spectators of individual sport (tennis). The results indicated that psychological commitment and resistance to change mediate the relationship between involvement and loyalty of spectators.

The present study replicates and extends previous findings (Iwasaki & Havitz, 2004; Madrigal, 2001; Pritchard et al, 1999) by considering the different measurement approach of commitment, attitudinal and behavioral loyalty of sport fans by conceptualizing a behavioral component of loyalty with past and future behavior, as well as fan involvement with the team. It is expected that psychological commitment will act as a mediator where involvement will positively influence psychological commitment, which will subsequently increase attitudinal loyalty. Based on previous research, it is also expected that attitudinal loyalty will act as a mediator between psychological commitment and behavioral loyalty. It is also proposed that attitudinal loyalty will mediate the effect of psychological commitment and positively influence behavioral loyalty, (past and future behavior) and frequency of attendance. As attitudinal loyalty increases, behavioral loyalty should also be strengthened.


The purpose of the study was to test the applicability of the proposed model of the relationship between sport fans’ involvement and behavioral loyalty considering the mediating role of psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty for sport fans of professional teams. The resulting model would provide a better understanding of what drives to the final behavior of sport fans.


H1: Involvement will have a direct positive effect on psychological commitment.
H2: Psychological commitment will mediate the effect of involvement on attitudinal loyalty.
H3: Attitudinal loyalty will mediate the effect of psychological commitment on behavioral loyalty.


Using a stratified sampling design, the sample for this study was composed of 880 fans of Greek soccer teams. The teams participate in the major soccer Greek League (Super League). They filled questionnaires that were administered prior to the beginning of soccer games. The research took place in the stadiums of the teams.


The involvement scale proposed by Kyle, Graefe, Manning, & Bacon (2003), was used to measure fans’ involvement with the team. This scale was evaluated by reliability and validity criteria in the past (Kyle et al., 2003; 2004a; 2004b; Kyle et al., 2004; Kyle & Mowen, 2005). Involvement was measured by eleven (11) questions. The involvement construct was evaluated by three (3) dimensions: a) the “attraction” dimension including five (5) questions, e.g. “I really enjoy participating in my favorite team activities”, b) the “centrality” dimension including three (3) questions, e.g. “My favorite team has a central role in my life” and c) the “self-expression” dimension including three (3) questions, e.g. “When I participate in my favorite team activities others see me the way I want them to see me”.

Psychological Commitment
To measure psychological commitment of the fans the uni-dimensional scale of Funk, Filo, Beaton, and Pritchard (2009) was used since it was found that it was a valid and reliable instrument (Neale & Funk, 2006; Funk, Ridinger & Moorman 2003). Psychological commitment was measured by three (3) questions, “i.e., I am a committed fan of my favorite team; I am a loyal supporter of my favorite team; Win, lose or draw I’m a loyal fan of my favorite team”.

Attitudinal Loyalty
Attitudinal Loyalty to Team Scale (ALTS) of Heere and Dickson (2008) was used to measure fans’ attitudinal loyalty. The construct of attitudinal loyalty was measured by four (4) questions “i.e., I could never switch my loyalty from my favorite team even if my close friends were fans of another team; It would be difficult to change my beliefs about my favorite team; I would still be committed to my favorite team regardless of the luck of any star players; I would still be committed to my favorite team regardless of the lack of physical skill among the players”.

Behavioral loyalty
For the measurement of behavioral loyalty, ten (10) questions were used that consider both past and future behaviors, e.g. “I have often attended games of my favorite team live in the stadium/ I will often attend games of my favorite team live in the stadium” (Homburg & Giering, 1999; Fink, Trail & Anderson, 2003; Bauer et al., 2008) and as Bauer et al. (2008) suggested an average score for the past and future behavior of the item scores was calculated in order to reduce the complexity of the construct.

Demographic questions including gender, age, profession, education, income, nationality were also included into the questionnaire.

A questionnaire distributed to spectators prior to the beginning of the soccer games. Specialized personnel distributed and selected the questionnaires in all stadiums gates giving some information about the questionnaire and the purpose of the study. The procedure lasted for two (2) months.


880 fans of Greek soccer teams participated in the study. The strong majority of the fans were Greek (98.8%) and male (93%). Almost 74% of the fans were between 20-39 years old. Also, there is a significant percentage (9.7%) of unemployed fans. Regarding to their level of education, a grand percentage (38.7%) of the participants has a high school degree. In addition, 42.7% of the fans were married and 31.2% of them had income less than 500€. Descriptive statistics are depicted in table 1.

Demographic Data
Age 8% < 19 30.7% 20-29

Table 1 Demographic data
Age <19
8% 20-29
30.7% 30-39
30.7%, 40-49
24.5% >50
Gender Male
93% Female
Marital Status Not married
54.3% Married
42.7% Divorced
2.5% Widow
Professional Status Students
20% Employee
64,2% Entrepreneurs
4.8% Unemployed
9.7% Retired
Education Elementary School
0.9% High School

38.7% Graduate

49.8% Post Graduate

Income <500€
31.2% 500-1000€
28.9% 1000-1700€
26.9% >1.700€
Ethnicity Greek
98.8% Other

Analysis was conducted on means for all survey items, including each standardized scale and subscale. Descriptive statistics, reliabilities and inter-correlations for the variables assessed in this study are presented in table 2.

Table 2 Descriptive and alpha reliability of the involvement, psychological commitment, attitudinal and behavioral loyalty
Factors Mean S.D. (Cronbach a) Items
Involvement 8
Attraction 6.13 1.06 0.81 3
Centrality 5.27 1.38 0.89 3
Self-expression 4.38 1.78 0.79 2
Psychological Commitment 6.61 0.70 0.82 3
Attitudinal Loyalty 6.72 0.55 0.73 4
Behavioral Loyalty 5.96 0.85 10
Past Behavior 5.84 0.89 0.69 5
Future Behavior 6.08 0.89 0.71 5

The reliability analysis indicated good values of alpha ranging from .69 to .89. In terms of the descriptive statistics, the results indicated high mean scores for all the involvement dimensions, for psychological commitment, for attitudinal and behavioral loyalty. Inter-correlations among the constructs, ranging from .26 to .50, did not suggest extreme multi-collinearity and indicated an adequate amount of discriminant validity (Table 3).

Table 3 Inter-correlations among constructs
Variables 1 2 3 4 5 6
Behavioral Loyalty
Attitudinal Loyalty .38**
Psychological Commitment .49** .26**
Involvement Attraction .38** .26** .36**
Involvement Centrality .50** .32** .41** .40**
Involvement Self expression .33** .32** .41** .33** .46**
** Correlation is significant at the .001 level**

To test for mediation, a series of regression equations were performed. Specifically, the analyses followed the test for mediation as discussed in Baron and Kenny (1986). First, the mediator was regressed on the independent variable(s). Second, the dependent variable was regressed on the independent variable(s). Third, the dependent variable was regressed on the independent variable(s) and the mediator. This procedure was conducted to test for mediation with both psychological commitment and resistance to change acting as mediators. Overall, the results support the hypothesized model with both psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty acting as mediators. Three multiple regression equations were estimated to assess the role of psychological commitment as a mediator (Table 4).

Table 4 Psychological commitment as a mediator
PATH R2 Estimates T-Value (p)
Independent variables -> Mediator .21
Involvement (attraction) -> Psychological commitment .24 6.82 (p< .001)
Involvement (centrality) -> Psychological commitment .31 8.43 (p< .001)
Involvement (self-expression) -> Psychological commitment .01 .44 (p>.05)
Independent variables -> Dependent variable .12
Involvement (attraction) ->Psychological commitment .14 4.02 (p< .001)
Involvement (centrality) -> Psychological commitment .23 6.05 (p< .001)
Involvement (self-expression) -> Attitudinal loyalty .05 1.37 (p>.05)
Independent variables & Mediator -> Dependent variable .37
Psychological commitment -> Attitudinal loyalty .55 17.59 (p< .001)
Involvement (attraction) -> Attitudinal loyalty .02 .48 (p>.05)
Involvement (centrality) -> Attitudinal loyalty .06 1.82 (p>.05)
Involvement (self-expression)
-> Attitudinal loyalty .04 1.33 (p>.05)

In support of H1 the first regression analysis indicated that both dimensions of involvement “attraction” (b=.24, t=6.82, p< .001) and “centrality” (b=.31, t=8.43, p<.001) had a positive and significant influence on the mediator, psychological commitment but not the dimension “self-expression” (b=.01, t=.44, p>.05). Initial support for H2 was found when both dimensions of involvement “attraction” (b=.14, t=4.02, p< .001) and “centrality” (b=.23, t=6.05, p<.001) had a positive and significant influence on the dependent variable attitudinal loyalty but not the dimension “self-expression” (b=.05, t=1.37, p>.05). Finally, when the dimensions of involvement and psychological commitment were entered as predictors of the dependent variable, attitudinal loyalty, only the relationship between the mediator, psychological commitment (b=.55, t=17.59, p< .001) and the dependent variable, attitudinal loyalty was significant. The relationship between the dimensions of involvement and attitudinal loyalty were not significant for both “attraction” (b=.02, t=.48, p>.05), and “centrality” (b=.06, t=1.82, p>.05) as well as “self-expression” (b=.04, t=1.33, p>.05). The above results support H2 and suggest that psychological commitment mediates the influence of involvement on attitudinal loyalty. Three multiple regression equations were estimated to assess the role of attitudinal loyalty as a mediator (Table 4).

Table 4 Attitudinal loyalty as a mediator
Path R2 Estimates T-value (p)
Independent variables -> Mediator .36
Psychological commitment -> Attitudinal loyalty .60 21.29 (p< .001)
Independent variables -> Dependent variable .24
Psychological commitment -> Behavioral loyalty .49 16.00 p< .001)
Independent variables & Mediator -> Dependent variable .24
Psychological commitment -> Behavioral loyalty .05 1.33 (p>.05)
Attitudinal loyalty -> Behavioral loyalty .46 12.01 (p< .001)

The results of the second set of regression analyses support the proposed relationship that attitudinal loyalty mediates the relationship between psychological commitment and behavioral loyalty measured as the difference between past and future behavior. The relationship between psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty was significant (b=.60, t=21.29, p<.001). The relationship between psychological commitment and behavioral loyalty was also significant (b=.49, t=16.00, p=.001). The final step provided evidence of mediation, where attitudinal loyalty (b=.46, t=12.01, p<.001) was significantly related to behavioral loyalty, but psychological commitment was not (b=-.05, t=-1.33, p>.05). These results support H3 and provide an indication that the influence of psychological commitment on behavioral loyalty was mediated by the inclusion of attitudinal loyalty.

The purpose of the present study was to examine the application of a model proposed in leisure and recreation settings (fitness) to spectator professional sports. The study aimed to confirm the importance of underlying factors, as involvement, psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty in the development of behavioral loyalty among soccer fans.

From the results of the study it was found that for professional soccer spectators behavioral loyalty (past and future behavior) is better explained by the direct effect of attitudinal loyalty and the indirect effects of psychological commitment and involvement. This builds on previous research in this area by including three dimensions of involvement (“attraction”, “centrality”, “self-expression”), a two dimensional component of behavioral loyalty by including past and future behaviors and an attitudinal component of loyalty (resistance to change), specifying the relationships among variables, and examining a professional team sport.

The results indicated that self-expression was not a significant predictor of psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty and are in line with other researches (Alexandris, Kouthouris, Funk & Chatzigianni, 2008). Probably, a spectator’s involvement with the team is not an expression of his self-concept in relation to his status in society. More attention and further examination for self-expression needs to be directed.

From the results of this study it was found that a spectator’s involvement with the team is important in the development of psychological commitment. Attitudinal loyalty is also important in the development of behavioral loyalty. Finally, psychological commitment has a direct effect on attitudinal loyalty.

From the mediation results it was found that psychological commitment is a mediating variable between involvement and behavioral loyalty. Additionally, attitudinal loyalty is a mediating factor that facilitates the relationship between psychological commitment and behavioral loyalty. It seems that not all highly involved spectators become loyal to their team, although higher levels of enduring involvement seem to be an important precursor to behavioral loyalty. Higher levels of psychological commitment, in which attitudinal loyalty is a crucial element, appear essential for the development of spectators’ behavioral loyalty to a team. The development of spectators’ behavioral loyalty appears to be best explained as a progressive process in which the formation of high involvement seems to be a precondition for becoming a committed spectator of a team. When people develop attitudinal loyalty in terms of resistance to change they become loyal to their team. Pritchard et al. (1999) also supported that behavioral loyalty is an outcome of attitudinal loyalty and plays a mediating role whereby psychological commitment has an indirect effect on behavioral loyalty for tourism industry. The above results agree with the initial model in fitness participation context of Iwasaki and Havitz (2004) that proposed the mediating role of psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty between involvement and behavioral intentions. These findings are consistent with past studies on involvement, psychological commitment and loyalty (Iwasaki & Havitz, 1998; Kim, Scott & Crompton, 1997; Park, 1996; Pritchard et al., 1999). Although the original model of the involvement measurement was used extensively in leisure settings (Kyle et al., 2003; 2004a; 2004b; Kyle et al., 2004; Kyle & Mowen, 2005), this model was found to be applicable in professional sport spectator settings.

Managerial Implications
From this study it was found that the relationship between involvement and behavioral loyalty is complex since other variables mediate this relationship. The understanding of the relationship among the variables is important for managers and professionals since it explains the processes for the development of behavioral loyalty. The proposed model could help sport managers to understand clearly the behavior of sport fans and to enhance marketing strategies in order to develop and retain a loyal fan base. Marketers can potentially influence behavioral loyalty by capitalizing on any or all of the variables examined by the proposed model.

Iwasaki and Havitz (2004) proposed that loyalty is a developmental process. From this study it was found that high involved soccer spectators and specifically those who were attracted to the team and the team plays a central role to their life, have the potential to develop into high committed fans who demonstrate high levels of behavioral loyalty. Attitudinal loyalty is important for the development of behavioral loyalty but it can also be developed by maximizing psychological commitment and involvement.
In conclusion, sport managers should comprehend the procedures developing fans’ behavioral loyalty to their teams. It’s proposed the application of new strategies and the reinforcement of fans’ psychological commitment and attitudinal loyalty in order to control the process that fans become loyal.

Limitations of the Study
Several limitations are acknowledged in the present study. First, the conceptual model was developed primarily in the context of professional soccer teams, in Greece. It is important to test the psychometric properties of the proposed scale of involvement in other sport spectator settings in order to examine the adequacy of the scale in the measurement of sport fans’ involvement with their teams. Second, the psychometric properties of the measurement scale have been verified with only a limited sample. Third from the relative bibliography indicated that there are many factors contributing the development of sport fans loyalty. The proposed model should take into account all these factors. Finally, the sample of the research was limited, as we examined only fans that attend games. It’s useful to focus in other samples of sport fans, such as fans that watch only their favorite teams on television or internet.

Future Research
The model of the relationship among these constructs focused on soccer fans. A recommendation for future studies would be to segment participants and evaluate the effect of different strategies in developing behavioral loyalty. High, medium or low involvement sport consumers may develop brand loyalty in a different way and this seems like an interesting option for research.

The generalizability of the model must be examined using various population groups. Research in other spectator sports is an interesting topic that may result to new different findings. Also, the grand majority of the participants were male. The examination of the relationship between involvement, psychological commitment and loyalty among female sport fans should contribute to consumer behavior research, especially in European spectator sport settings.

Another recommendation for a future study would be to test for factors that precede involvement and identify reasons for becoming involved or not. For example motives and other constraints would probably complete the explanation of sport consumers behavioral involvement and loyalty model.

This study can be used as a foundation for further sport spectator research. However future research should include more factors in order to understand spectators in other applied settings. We could then be more confident for the success of organizing the sport events.

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2016-10-12T15:06:53-05:00December 24th, 2013|Sports Management, Sports Marketing|Comments Off on The Role of Psychological Commitment and Attitudinal Loyalty on The Relationship Between Involvement and Behavioral Loyalty of Sport Fans

The Safety and Effectiveness of Supplement Use in Aviation

Submitted by Thomas E. Sather, CAsP (1) , Conrad L. Woolsey (2), Fred Cromartie (3), Marion W. Evans (4)

(1) Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, Pensacola, FL
(2) Logan University, St. Louis, MO
(3) United States Sports Academy, Daphne, AL
(4) University of Western States, Portland, OR

*Corresponding Author – Thomas E. Sather, CAsP

Aviation is an inherently dangerous endeavor. Pilots and aircrew are often directly responsible for aviation mishaps. Moreover, the added stressors such as air combat and fast paced operational tempo further complicate air safety. Due to the intense training and demands of the profession, military aviators are tactical athletes. Military aviation requires special levels of kinesthetic awareness, strength, endurance, eye-hand coordination, and timing. Similar to other highly competitive athletes, aviators often turn to nutritional supplements in attempts to enhance performance. This article reviews the safety and effectiveness of nutritional supplements. Additionally, civilian and military regulations related to the use of supplements in aviation are addressed.

KEYWORDS: Aerospace Physiology, Nutritional Supplements, Energy Beverages

In the world of warfare, being athletic is important from an operational and tactical perspective. Pilots are categorized as athletes due to the fitness and performance standards they must meet on a biannual basis. In the military, the human body is considered as part of the operational weapons system. Whether pulling a trigger or engaging in hand-to-hand combat, the person is an intricate part of the system. Similar to how professional athletes use their bodies to perform in sport and to earn a living, military personnel train their bodies and minds for optimal performance and to survive and even thrive in combat.

Military personnel were once only trained to pass a general physical fitness test twice per year, but are now routinely trained for their job specific duties on a weekly basis. The Navy Operational Fitness and Fueling Series (NOFFS) is one example of new specialized functional training based on a specific skill sets needed. This paradigm shift in thinking marks the emphasis on functional training and the armed forces striving to improve their overall preparedness.

Aviation is inherently dangerous. Pilots are routinely involved in risky situations from take-offs to landings, to flying through thunderstorms. In civilian aviation, there are 16 fatal accidents per every million hours of general aviation, making flying about10 times as dangerous per mile travelled (1). Military pilots fly missions that may involve air-to-air combat (dogfighting), support of ground forces with strategic, low-level bombing or strafing runs, or even searching out enemy missile defenses. In the case of Naval Aviation, aviators must also take off and land on an aircraft carrier at sea, in various environmental conditions.

Military aviators are routinely subjected to environmental stressors as a consequence of mission requirements, airframe, and duty locations. Long duration missions crossing multiple time zones, unusual duty hours, barometric pressure changes, temperature extremes, vibration, noise and G-forces also contribute to increased levels of physical and mental fatigue/stress. Deployed military members often attempt to cope by using energy enhancing supplements to address these actual and perceived reductions in mental and physical performance (2).

Military pilots and aircrew are “tactical” athletes and as such need to be specifically trained to combat the hostile environment they work in. In technical terms, aviators need to be able to perform under environmental conditions that are a combination of high-Gravity force (G-force), low-level (altitude) maneuvers, and conventional 3-dimensional car racing. In NASCAR, drivers experience a maximum of 3 G’s (a measurement of acceleration felt as weight) travelling at over 200 miles per hour; whereas pilots may be subjected to over 12 G’s and travel at speeds faster than the speed of sound. They must also make split-second decisions that mean the difference between life and death. As a result, aircrew must maintain adequate levels of physical fitness. Moreover, the combined effects of a shrinking military force and the expansion of individual operational duties, flight personnel are often over extended with training, deployments, job requirements, and family duties. The cumulative stress of this balancing act can negatively impact performance as well as the safety of missions.

One of the biggest mistakes athletes make is overtraining. Overtraining can lead to injury, staleness, burnout, and ineffective performances. Often the outdated philosophy of ‘more is better’ is incorrectly implemented in training. Rather than taking needed breaks and getting adequate rest, athletes often turn to nutritional supplements with beliefs/hopes that supplements will prevent or minimize the effects of not getting adequate rest.
It appears that the use of nutritional supplements by military members follows trends from the general population. In the United States, research suggests that over half of the adult population (aged 20 years or older) uses or has used supplements (3). Self-reported surveys on various military groups indicate that between 60-85% use or have used supplements (4). Moreover, in surveys administered to deployed personnel, 47% reported using at least one type of supplement and 22% reported using multiple supplements (2). Additionally, research indicates greater use of energy enhancing supplements among deployed military members. This finding is not surprising given that it is relatively common for combat troops to be sleep deprived and given the operational tempo they are expected to maintain. This is especially concerning as military members often work in extreme environments and supplements can interfere with normal physical and mental performance.

In the aviation environment, commonly used supplements can have unforeseen effects. These effects, which would not be an issue for personnel working on the ground, could potentially have catastrophic consequences. For example, as a result of supplement use, a Navy pilot has temporarily blacked out before during ‘final approach’. In this incident, the pilot had recently started a vitamin regimen which contained vitamin B-3 (niacin) and Coenzyme Q10 (a commonly used antioxidant). It was later discovered that the combination of niacin and Coenzyme Q10 can cause a drop in the blood pressure and peripheral vascular resistance, which resulted in reduced G-force tolerance. This unexpected drop in G-tolerance may well have caused a crash had the pilot not aborted landing at the last minute (5).

Military Regulations on Supplement Use
A cursory review of regulations on the use of nutritional supplements has revealed a fragmented approach. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) places no limitations on the use of supplements as they are not treated as medications to be regulated (6).

Within the Department of Defense (DOD), regulations on the use of over-the-counter (OTC) supplements vary from service to service. The United States (US) Coast Guard ascribes to limitations set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In the US Air Force, the decision on which supplements are allowable is left to the discretion of the flight surgeon (7).

The US Army and Navy both place more limits on the use of supplements on pilots and aircrew. The US Army requires that all pilots report any supplement use to their flight surgeon. The Army also classifies nutritional supplements as falling within one of three categories (i.e., Class 1, 2, or 3) with specific limitations for use associated with each. Class 1 supplements can be used without approval of a flight surgeon. These supplements include single daily multivitamin/minerals, vitamin C, E, B6, B12 (oral), calcium, folate, protein supplementation, including shakes, capsules, and nutritional bars. Pilots must declare the use of all Class 1 supplements in writing on the Flying Duty Medical Examination (FDME) / Flying Duty Health Screen (FDHS). Class 2 supplements include vitamins A, K, D, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, copper, glucosamine with or without chrondroitin, echinacea, saw palmetto, creatine, and ginseng. These substances can be used only with approval of a flight surgeon and must be declared on the FDME/FDHS. Class 3 supplements are any other supplements that are not previously listed and are not authorized for use.

The US Navy provides the most extensive guidelines for nutritional supplement use. However, the Department of the Navy does not have a specific policy on the use of supplements. Navy and Marine Corps aviation is controlled by the Chief of Naval Operations and Instructions 3710.7U which states, “Use of nutritional/dietary and other OTC supplements/products by flight personnel except those approved by BUMED is prohibited. Flight Surgeons shall be consulted to assist with making informed decisions regarding nutritional supplements. The use of nutritional supplements of all types shall be reported to the flight surgeons and recorded during every periodic physical examination or physical health assessment (PHA).” Therefore, flight surgeons defer to the Aeromedical Reference and Waiver Guide (ARWG) to determine which supplements are authorized for use by pilots and aircrew (8). The US Navy ARWG is published by the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute and classifies nutritional supplements as belonging to one of three categories similar to that of the Army. Class A supplements are authorized for use by aviation personnel without restriction as long as they are disclosed during the physical. These include sports drinks, multivitamins, protein supplements, and tonic water. Class B supplements are more restrictive and require a positive diagnosis of a medical condition prior to clearance for use. The supplements in this category are glucosamine with or without chondroitin for arthritis, and saw palmetto for benign prostate hyperplasia. Anything else that is not explicitly permitted is classified as a Class C supplement and is not authorized for use. Personnel taking these substances should be removed from aviation duty for a minimum of 24 hours after the last dose of the substance.

In reviewing the supplements authorized for use by flight crews, there are three general groups of supplements that are commonly used by aviators. The first are general nutritional supplements that include traditional multi-vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. The second list includes nutritional derivatives of protein and carbohydrates. The third are herbs or other “natural” compounds that are advertised to impart some type of physiological enhancement such as more energy, speed in healing, or boost in immune functions.

From a safety perspective, there appears to be no limit as to the quantity or quality of vitamins and mineral supplementation. While generally regarded as safe (GRAS), this overly permissive policy is one area of concern. The unregulated use of vitamins and minerals may lead to occurrences of hypervitaminosis as individuals consume supplements with high quantities of vitamins in the hopes of either enhancing endurance or improving energy levels. One nutritional supplement that contains massive doses of vitamins is energy shots. Some energy shots have in excess of 8000% of the RDA for certain B vitamins per two ounce bottle.

Protein and carbohydrate supplementation has been studied by sports researchers for decades. Both macronutrients have been proven safe and useful in optimizing physical performance in athletes. Since aviators typically use both protein and carbohydrate supplements, it is warranted that these products be adequately evaluated for safety.

Protein Supplements
Proteins are made up of individual amino acids and are used to make up most biologically active tissues. There are nine amino acids that that body cannot produce and therefore must be consumed daily. The body can combine different amino acids with carbohydrates, fats, and ammonia in different configurations to create what it needs. Some animal and human studies even present several plausible mechanisms through which specific amino acids may decrease the risk of diseases such as coronary heart disease (9). Literature reviews indicate that protein intake at the levels set by the FDA seem insufficient for athletes to maintain a positive nitrogen balance. This balance is important as it serves as an indirect measure of whether the body is repairing and building muscle (anabolism) or tearing it down (catabolism). For an athlete, it is imperative that they maintain a positive nitrogen balance as this ensures the body is adequately repairing itself and building verses breaking down its natural resources for energy.

Protein, when taken in large quantities, could be detrimental to the human body. Theoretically, ingestion of large amounts of protein stresses the liver and kidneys and could lead to pathological changes in kidney function as a result of the deamination of proteins and disposal of the extra nitrogenous waste (10). It has been suggested that excessive protein intake leads to a progressive impairment of kidney functions (11). These findings are applicable when dealing with a patient population with kidney disease or dysfunction; however, evidence does not support these findings in healthy populations (12). While experts have not determined the upper limits of safe protein intake, caution is warranted when exceeding the 2.0 gram per kilogram per day intake level (13).

Phosphocreatine is a naturally occurring compound that could potentially enhance training by increasing energy storage. Creatine has the ability to increase energy transport by acting as a phosphate donor. By donating a phosphate to the active muscle, adenosine diphosphate can be synthesized into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is used for muscle contractions. The extra reserve of energy can allow for a longer and harder training session as long as the athlete stays fully hydrated. These ergogenic effects in turn can allow for improvements in strength and body mass (14). Creatine may not be beneficial for every type of training. While strength athletes have made good gains by using creatine, the same cannot be said for endurance athletes such as marathon runners or cyclists (15).

Sports Drinks
Sports drinks consist of water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes and are relatively safe to use. They have been shown to help performance during continuous activity lasting longer than 90 minutes because they are absorbed faster than water. They also contain electrolytes, which stimulate thirst and help retain water (16).
To ensure that the muscles have enough fuel to perform a task, carbohydrate replacement products can be consumed at periodic intervals. Research suggests that in endurance type sports, the optimal blend of carbohydrates is a mixture of the different types of sugars (17). Once those fuels are used up, it is imperative to refuel. Carbohydrates are the easiest for the body to use and digest. Research has shown that the optimal window to resupply muscles with carbohydrates is soon after exercise. This helps with restoring our glycogen stores. Additionally, the recovery process and metabolic absorption of protein is improved with carbohydrate intake directly after exercise (18). This is an especially important for athletes that are on a low carbohydrate or calorie restricted diet.

Herbal Supplements
One of the most contested categories of nutritional supplements used by aviators is herbs and natural compounds. The premise behind this category of supplements is that these substances will impart some sort of physiological enhancement. Most herbal supplements that can stimulate the body are not authorized for use by aviators. Herbal stimulants such as ephedrine and 1,3-dimethylamylamine (AKA: DMAA, methylhexanamine, or geranium extract) have been removed from the market due to numerous health issues associated with the use of these products. One exception to the prohibition of herbal stimulants is caffeine.

Caffeine is classified as a methylxanthine and stimulates the nervous and cardiac systems while at the same time relaxing smooth muscle cells. Xanthene use is not unusual in civilized society and is one of the most commonly used drugs on a daily basis (19). These chemicals are routinely consumed by the general population and are relatively safe if used in moderation. In some populations, xanthenes may contribute to anxiety (20). Methylxanthines are also used by asthma and pulmonary patients as a bronchodilator (21). Caffeine has been researched substantially and has been shown to be a potent ergogenic that can enhance endurance with restricted use. Recent research even suggests that caffeine has antioxidant effects and may help protect people from diseases such as Alzheimer’s when consumed in moderate amounts (22). While caffeine is generally regarded as safe, mixing with other ingredients or consuming rapidly can be dangerous.

Energy Drinks
Energy drinks have become popular and contain large amounts of vitamins, amino acids, and caffeine. While not authorized for use by flight personnel, their presence in convenience stores and military commissaries is concerning. With the introduction of these products, caffeine poisoning or overdose has become more common in the civilian sector (23). Caffeine toxicity can mimic amphetamine poisoning and lead to seizures, psychosis, cardiac arrhythmias and potentially death. According to research conducted in Australia, a majority of the emergency calls involving energy drinks were received between 5pm and 3am with the consumer drinking an average of five energy drinks (24). Ironically, this happens to be the time when party-goers and study-crammers likely seek the advertised ‘energy boost’ of these drinks.


Research shows that supplement use by aviation personnel follows the same usage patterns seen in the general population. In combat deployed troops, there are a number of findings regarding the use of nutritional supplements that make logical sense. The finding that more deployed military members used energy enhancing supplements is not surprising given the operational tempo typical of combat duty. It is relatively common amongst combat troops to be sleep deprived. Additionally, the use of protein supplementation by deployed personnel was also not alarming given that combat personnel must maintain strength for carrying equipment, body armor and personnel supplies.

In the realm of military aviation, it is not surprising that there variations in standards related to the use of supplements. Divided into four service branches, each has different policies governing the use of supplements. As supplements are not well regulated by the federal government as is drugs, it falls to each service branch to establish policies. Additionally, since supplement products often rapidly change, it is almost impossible for any federal agency to survey new products and determine efficacy. The branch medical chiefs seem more comfortable in deferring to policies of outside agencies such as the NCAA or even the United States Olympic Committee in order to survey product safety. While this is a good start, it does not explore the special aeromedical concerns such as effects at altitude, G-forces, and other aspects of military readiness in aviation personnel. It will take continued effort by military medical officers to tackle this issue given the continuous advancements in sports nutrition and the billion dollar marketing efforts of the supplement industry.

Since nutritional supplements cannot be regulated as drugs, efforts must be focused to educate pilots and aircrew while continuing to research the physiological effects of supplements. It is important to realize that there will never be a way to regulate human behavior, dietary habits, and the use of nutritional supplements without major changes in governmental legislation. However, through health education and regulations, we can influence the behavior of service personnel thereby potentially reducing the adverse risks of supplementation while optimizing health and wellbeing.


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2015-12-09T15:37:08-06:00October 9th, 2013|Aerospace Physiology|Comments Off on The Safety and Effectiveness of Supplement Use in Aviation

A Comparison of Body Image Perceptions for Female Competitive Dancers, Fitness Cohort, and Non-Dancers in a College Population



Body image is a complex synthesis of psychophysical elements that are perpetual, emotional, cognitive, and inesthetic (1). The desire to achieve and maintain an ideal weight is a prevalent goal among females. The purpose of this study was to examine a female population of competitive dancers, control, and fitness cohorts’ body image and eating characteristics. A total of 51 (29 dancers, 12 control, and 10 fitness) subjects completed the MBSRQ-AS, EAT-26, a Physical Activity Questionnaire, Stunkard Figural Silhouettes, and body fat measurements. A MANOVA was conducted to determine group differences and showed a significant relation (Wilk’s Lambda = .106, F=8.735, p<001). Post hoc tests were conducted to determine directionality and showed that the dancers scored significantly higher on the Appearance Orientation subscale (p =.034) with no difference between the control and fitness cohort. Dancers also significantly perceived themselves to be overweight (p=.048) with no difference between the other two groups. Both the dancers (p<.001) and the fitness cohort (p<.001) scored as exhibiting disordered eating patterns as rated by the EAT-26. Even though the dancers had a low percent body fat (M=17.6), they tended to place more importance on how they look. The dancers perceived themselves to be overweight and engaged in disordered eating patterns. These types of perceptions and behaviors are disturbing, but not surprising since dancers have a drive for thinness to compete (2). To fully understand the scope of the issue and the psychological factors that accompany the quest for achieving a certain appearance, future research should include other female cohorts such as elite athletes, obligatory exercisers, and sedentary females to determine any similarities and differences in the groups.


Research has documented and quantified a shift towards a thinner ideal shape for females in the Western culture for the past 20 years (3). Body image has been shown in numerous studies to be a key issue for females. Body image has been described as a multidimensional construct that describes internal,subjective representations of physical and bodily appearance (4). The internal representations of one’s own body include both cognitive and perceptual elements (5). In addition, eating disorders have been shown to be prevalent in females with more than 90 percent of those with eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25 years of age (6, 7, 8). Research indicates that both of these factors (body image and eating disorders) are present among elite performers of certain sports or physical activities, ballet dancers, and professional dancers (8). Yet little has been reported on dance team participants (9, 10, 11).

Dance team is difficult to research due to the paucity of literature available and the complexity of terminology. Also, dance team is a nebulous term to define. Research demonstrates common referrals to spirit teams, spirit squads, dance teams, as well as pom squads. While the confusion in labeling and current argument as to whether this is an activity or a sport still looms, one fact that remains constant is competitive spirit teams is one of the fastest growing areas of participation for females (12).

Among high school participants, over 96,718 females were accounted for in the 2010-2011 high school athletics participation survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations, ranking competitive spirit teams ninth for female participation. At the college level, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) reported that spirit squad has experienced the most growth for women’s sport (13, 14). A nationwide Division I study conducted during the 2001-02 academic school year investigated the prevalence of dance and cheerleading programs and reported 89% of the institutions contacted indicated they sponsored competitive dance (12).

The current emerging phenomenon of dance teams has witnessed the rise invisibility of participants at sporting events and are known for their pre-game and half-time routines. Dance teams are comprised of competitive dancers who are required to practice for long hours in movements, choreography, and synchronicity among dancers. Participants are also required to incorporate specific choreography (i.e., contemporary, hip-hop, or jazz) and technical skills (jumps, kicks, and other gymnastic-type skills) into the routine. It is highly competitive and requires hours of rehearsal to master precise movements in harmony with other members of the team.

The increasing number of females participating in dance team competition is prevalent. Long rehearsal hours, use of mirrors, and dance outfits, place dance team participants at risk of body image concerns (15, 16, 17, 18). Of additional concern is the presence of wearing dance outfits which possibly place them as subjects of objectification, or being evaluated by gazing or being observed or “checked out” on the basis of their appearance(17, 19, 10).

With the growing number of females participating in dance team competition,a further examination of the psychosocial factors that accompany this new sport warrants investigation including the importance of assessing potential body image disturbance. This study was designed to examine the perceptions of dance team participants, fitness participants, and non-dancers in a college population.


Upon Internal Review Board (IRB) approval, fifty one subjects were recruited from two university campuses. Informed consent was obtained prior to the study through an information letter that was administered to participants in dance and physical fitness classes.


Participants were female students enrolled in university classes and dance teams. Two university campuses were involved in the study and yielded a total of 51 participants. The study was comprised of 29 dancers, 10 fitness students,and 12 control subjects. The mean age and standard deviation for the participants were: dancers (M = 20.69, SD = 2.25), fitness (M = 25.40, SD =8.67), and control (M = 20.42, SD = 0.996). The dancers were from university dance teams, the fitness participants were enrolled in fitness classes, and the participants in the control group were randomly selected from general university courses.


Each subject completed questionnaires assessing participant demographics,physical activity involvement using the NASA Physical Activity Scale and body image perceptions using the Stunkard Figural Rating Silhouettes. Eating behavior patterns were assessed utilizing the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26)and attitudes concerning body image were assessed with the Multi-dimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (MBSRQ). Anthropometric measurements (height and weight) were then taken. Weight was taken using a Tanita WB-110A Digital Scale and height was taken using a using a Seca 420 measuring stadiometer. Body fat measurements were taken on each participant using an Omron Fat Loss Monitor, Model HBF-306C. The Fat Loss Monitor (Omron Fat Loss Monitor, ModelHBF-306C) displays the estimated value of body fat percentage by bioelectrical impedance method and indicates the Body Mass Index (BMI). The bioelectrical impedance, skinfold, and hydrostatic weighing methods have all been shown to be reliable measures of body composition (r = .957-.987). (23)

Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26)

The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) was used to differentiate participants with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating, and those without disordered eating characteristics. It is a 26-item measurement consisting of three subscales: 1) dieting, 2) bulimia and food perception, and 3) oral control. Scoring for this instrument was a Likert scale of six possible answers(always, usually, often, sometimes, rarely, never). Scores ranged from zero to three for each question and a total score greater than 20 indicates excessive body image concern that may identify an eating disorder (20, 21). The EAT-26has been proven to be a reliable (r =.88) measurement. (7)

Figural Rating Silhouettes

Body size judgments were obtained using the Stunkard Figure Rating Scale(see figure 1). This scale consists of a nine-figure scale of numbered silhouettes that increase gradually in size from very thin (a value of 1) to very obese (a value of 9). (22) Two body size perception variables were included in the current study. “Self-perceived body size” is the number of the figure selected by participants in response to the prompt“Choose the figure that reflects how you think you currently look.”“Ideal body size” is the number of the figure chosen in response to the prompt “Choose your ideal figure.” This scale has good test-retest reliability and adequate validity (23, 24). Following the methods of other investigators, we defined body size satisfaction as the difference between self-perceived body size and ideal body size (25, 26, 27, 28). A body size discrepancy index variable was created for each participant by subtracting the number of the figure selected as the ideal body size from the number of the figure selected as the self-perceived current body size (28). A high body size discrepancy value signifies low satisfaction with body size, and a low value signifies greater satisfaction with body size.

Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire

The Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (MBSRQ) is a 69 item self-report inventory for the assessment of self-attitudinal aspects of the body image construct. The MBSRQ measures satisfaction and orientation with body appearance, fitness, and health. In addition to seven subscales (Appearance Evaluation and Orientation, Fitness Evaluation and Orientation, Health Evaluation and Orientation, and Illness Orientation), the MBSRQ has three special multi-item subscales: (1) The Body Areas Satisfaction Scale (BASS)approaches body image evaluation as dissatisfaction-satisfaction with body areas and attributes; 2) The Overweight Preoccupation Scale assesses fat anxiety, weight vigilance, dieting, and eating restraint; and 3) The Self-Classified Weight Scale assesses self-appraisals of weight from“very underweight” to “very overweight.” Internal consistency for MBSRQ subscales range from .74 -.91. This questionnaire has been studied and used extensively in the college population. Internal consistency for the subscales of the MBSRQ ranged from .67 to .85 for males and .71 to .86 for females (9).

Physical Activity Scale

Level of physical activity was obtained by self-report with the NASA Activity Scale (NAS) (29, 30). The scale enables subjects to rate their general activity behavior over the previous 30 days. The scale range is from 0 to 10,which is based on the total weekly minutes spent in exercise or the total weekly miles run or walked. A NAS of 0-1 represents very low activity. A rating of 2-3 represents regular recreation or work of modest effort in such activities as golf or yard work for a weekly total of between 30 min to 2 h.Ratings of 4-10 represent regular participation in aerobic exercise ranging from light to heavy exercise.


The participants were instructed by a trained individual to fill out the information packets provided on clipboards. First, the participants completed a personal identification and demographic sheet that contained general information such as age and dance or sport category. The participants then completed the MBSRQ-AS, the EAT-26, Physical Activity Questionnaire, and the Stunkard Figural Rating Scale (31, 20, 29, 22). As the participants completed the written component of the study, another trained individual took height and weight measures of the participants and recorded the body mass index (BMI) from a hand-held BIA analyzer. Weight was taken using a Tanita WB-110A Digital Scale and height was taken using a using a Seca 420 measuring stadiometer. A test/retest method was utilized for both measures to offset measurement error.In the measure of weight, the individual’s weight was recorded, the participant stepped off the digital scale and the scale was returned to“zero”. The measure was then taken again and recorded. In the measure of height, the same procedure of test/retest was used. When all measures were taken, the average of the two measures was then recorded. The measures were then taken by the researchers and converted using the formula(BMI = weight/height M2). BMI was then calculated and recorded for all participants. When the information was completed, the participants returned the packets to the trained administrator. Data sheets were collected and kept in a locked file cabinet for confidentiality.

A total of 51 participants completed the MBSRQ-AS, EAT-26, a Physical Activity Questionnaire, Stunkard Figural Silhouettes, and body fat measurements. Descriptive statistics are presented in Table 1. The Dancers and the Fitness group were significantly lower in body fat and higher in physical activity and the on the EAT-26. A MANOVA was conducted to determine group differences among the different measures and the subscales.

alt=”Table 1 – Figure Rating Means for each Group (dancer, fitness, & control)”
src=” 1 – Figure Rating Means for each Group (dancer, fitness, & control).png”
width=”470″ height=”233″ />


The MANOVA indicated a significant relation (Wilk’s Lambda = .106, F =8.735, p<.001). Post hoc tests were conducted and analyses were examined to determine directionality. Results showed that the dancers scored significantly higher on the Appearance Orientation subscale (p=.034) with no difference between the control and fitness cohort. Dancers also significantly perceived themselves to be overweight (p=.048) with no difference between the other two groups. Both the dancers (p<.001) and the fitness cohort (p<.001) scored as exhibiting disordered eating patterns as rated by the EAT-26 (see Table 2).

<src=” 2-Percent Fat and Eat-26 Totals for Subjects.png”
width=”461″ height=”239″ />


Even though the dancers had a low percent body fat (M=17.6), they tended to place more importance on how they look. Body dissatisfaction measures often focus on body build and are operationalized as the difference between ideal and self-perceived current figure as selected from a group of drawings (32, 33,34). Measures of body dissatisfaction were computed by subtracting participants’ ratings of their Current Body Size (CBS) from their Ideal Body Size (IBS) to create a discrepancy index (DI). (28) The DI’s for each group were calculated with means and standard deviations recorded: Dancers(-.59/1.11), Fitness Group (-1.04/.966), and Control (-1.55/.85). The dancers in this study were dissatisfied with their bodies and wanted a thinner body as described in the discrepancy index, indicating a higher level of importance on their appearance (p=.045).


The primary focus of this investigation was to examine collegiate dance team participants to see if they exhibited body image distortions and disordered eating habits as exhibited in other female performers. Even though the dancers had a low percent body fat (M = 17.6), they tended to place more importance on how they look. The dancers perceived themselves to be overweight and engaged in disordered eating patterns. These types of perceptions and behaviors are disturbing, but not surprising since dancers have exhibited a drive for thinness to compete (2).

The findings of the data for this study are consistent with previous studies regarding body image in females (6, 35, 36). The females in this study perceived their current figure as heavier than their ideal figure. Although literature available on dancers exists, many of the studies have focused on ballet dancers and other professional dancer types. Future research should examine dance team participants to see if the pressures are similar (i.e.,rehearsing with mirrors and being viewed during their performance by an audience). To fully understand the scope of the issue and the psychological factors that accompany the quest for achieving a certain appearance, future research should include other female cohorts such as elite athletes, obligatory exercisers, and sedentary females to determine any similarities and differences in the groups.

These results indicate that dancers had higher incidence of negative body image disturbances as compared with the controls. Dancers are usually expected to be slim, well-proportioned, and toned and are placed under a great deal of pressure to maintain these features. Often, the various aspects of a dance class can potentially lead to a negative body image (37). The pressures of being thin may present negative body images for dance team members (38). A national survey conducted reported that body image concerns continue to be prevalent among American women (39). Levels of body dissatisfaction may also foster negative affect because appearance is a central dimension for women in our culture (40).

While the dangers of distorted body image are present in the dance world,measures to minimize their impact should include coaches who focus on performance rather than personal appearance. Taking an active interest in how their dancers view themselves is critical to a more comprehensive understanding of the causes of body image concern. By further addressing this issue,researchers can also help minimize health risks in female participants as well as reduce body image dissatisfaction.

Limitations & Implications

Limitations to this study include the sample size. In addition, this study investigated indicators of disordered eating attitudes and behaviors rather than clinical diagnoses of eating disorders. Other variables that are contributing factors to the prevalence of disordered eating were not investigated. The results of the EAT-26 test were not intended to diagnose nor suggest an eating or life-threatening disorder; however, the EAT-26 was used because it has proven to be an effective screening tool in identifying eating disorder symptomology and allows for further investigation for treatment.


Body image has been the subject of much research conducted in recent years.As a result, body image is now recognized a multidimensional construct with complex aspects, particularly perceptual. The majority of the existing data indicates that body image concerns are prevalent among American females. With the recent phenomenal growth of dance team participation and the increasing number of female participants; a closer examination is warranted. Yet, there is a paucity of research available on dance team participants and their perceptions of their body appearance. Because dance team members wear a designated uniform/outfit, dance to a learned synchronized routine, and perform in front of an audience, they are subjected to visual scrutinization of fans/viewers. The uniqueness of the stressors and demands placed on the dancers complicates this issue. Additional knowledge of how dance team members perceive how they look and what the audience thinks of them in regards to abilities and their physical appearance deserves further investigation. Dealing with such information will not only benefit dance team members body image and self-esteem, but assist coaches and directors in ways to assist young women in resulting body image dissatisfaction.


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2015-11-08T07:39:52-06:00August 22nd, 2013|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology, Women and Sports|Comments Off on A Comparison of Body Image Perceptions for Female Competitive Dancers, Fitness Cohort, and Non-Dancers in a College Population

Security Models in Mega Sport Events between Safety and Human Rights (Case of Vancouver 2010)

Authors: Moez Baklouti*(1), Ph.D. & Zakaria Namsi, M. A.(2)

(1) Moez Baklouti is a Faculty member (Associate Professor) at Tunis University and the Research Unit Head of Tunis Sports Academy located in Vancouver, Canada.

(2) Zakaria Namsi is a Faculty member (Assistant Professor) at Ksar Said Sports and Physical Education Institute, Tunis.

*Corresponding Author:
Moez Baklouti, Ph. D.
14065 77A Ave Surrey, V3W2X2 BC Canada


This study examines the conflict between liberty and security in sporting mega-events by ensuring that prohibited items do not enter an Olympic Games venue while guaranteeing service excellence. A random sample of spectators and journalists (N= 1081) from Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics responded to a survey about customer service and security in the event. Chi-square tests for two independent samples were used along with Crosstabs procedures to test the differences in service and security between journalists and spectators.

The results revealed that a successful security model in mega-sport events is based on two pillars: service excellence that depends on the time spent at the portal, the communication with customers, the kind of staff serving in the venue, and mainly on the cooperation between all security corps in charge.


Sport managers’ focus on security became after the New York terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 the main concern of sport management, especially in the field of sport event organization. Other aspects, such as, organizational theory, sport marketing, sport facility management, sport law and policy, economics and finance, gender and diversity, have been classified less important, because they cannot stand in the absence of security. In the last few decades, there has been a growing concern regarding individuals’ safety, because the 9/11 incident showed that terrorists, who hit The World Trade Center and killed around 3000 people, could land with those 4 planes on 4 stadiums and harm 400000 spectators. Such scenario proved that the majority of our sport venues were and are still not protected. As an example of the difficulty of articulating the concept, Rothschild (1995) describes human security philosophically as part of both a broadening and a deepening of what we once viewed as security. She argues that the focus on state security must be extended to include supranational systems as well as the individual condition,and the range of included harms must be broadened to include serious threats to either. Also, the responsibility to ensure security must be diffused to include local governments, international agreements, NGO’s [non-governmental organization], public opinion, and the financial market. Although not an explicit definition, this conceptualization provides an example of how narrow the traditional paradigm has been as well as how complex the expansion of the concept can become” (Owen, 2004).

However, the controversy over the security concept leads sport managers to exaggerate and reach extreme resolutions that may harm the dignity of the people and threaten the human rights value. So, how can we reach a compromise whereby we protect our spectators by avoiding any prohibited item to get into the venues while ensuring an excellent customer service? “ ForMontesquieu, this was a singular focus on freedom and the perceived rights of individuals over the dictated security provided by the state. Security for Adam Smith meant the protection of the individual from ‘sudden or violent attack on one’s person or property’–this security being the most important prerequisite for a successful and ‘opulent’ society.Similarly, Condorcet described a societal contract in which the security of the individual was the central principle” (Owen, 2004).

This discussion leads us to better understand the role of each individual in the security process and to determine the responsibility of the highest rank of government officials to the common security agent in charge of a simple task during the sport event. “For Hobbes, it meant little whether aman’s insecurity was at the hands of a local thief, or an invading army.Protection from either, he believed, was the absolute responsibility of the state. For this protection, the citizen should give up any and all individual rights to his country, his protector— security prevailing over liberty” (Ullman, 1983). Liberty stands behind a mutual race between the anticipation of security measures and terrorists’ up-to-date attempts to transgress these boundaries, “ terrorists are explicitly in the business of uncertainty. They play on randomness to keep whole populations in fear,anticipation, and disestablishment. They precipitate the urge for more certainty, expressed through escalating security measures” (Ericson &Doyle, 2004).

The full protection of people and facilities in sport events cannot be reached instantly, rather it is a long-term and highly complex process requiring considerable data gathering. “ The context of terrorism has relevance to sport events, and the potential and realized impacts on the management of contemporary sport events have been profound” (Taylor &Toohey, 2006). For this reason, sport managers are dealing in each event with different platforms, new criteria of the hosting country, its own history with terrorism, its prior experience with events, and mainly its proper philosophy of the security model whether the so-called hard model, or the soft model, or even an intermediate model. Therefore, “by understanding the risk society and what this means in for sport event management, we can challenge dominant sport management paradigms and provide an emergent theoretical background by which to understand the impact of terrorism on sport event spectators”(Toohey & Taylor, 2008).


From this perspective, sport mega-events (SMEs) have become global occasions of economic, political, and social importance, for its impact on tourism (Degen, 2004; Euchner, 1999), and international status (Ahlert, 2006). To observe the aspects of SMEs, social development and cultural politics were delighted by (Close, Askew, & Xin, 2006; Marivoet, 2006; Roche, 2000, 2003;Whitson & Horne, 2006). “Sport mega-event security, in itself, is a complex assemblage of social control mechanisms that is undergoing profound change, notably in terms of costs, personnel, the rising influence of private security, the perceived dangers of terrorism, and the focus on indigenous crime” (Giulianotti & Klauser, 2010).

We should be alert that critical infrastructure (CI) is a vital component to develop any security strategy. This strategy must be based on continuous prevention regardless if the event takes place, or not because the reduction of certain pattern makes EMs more comfortable vis-à-vis the international instances. International Sport Institutions (ISI; i.e., IOC, FIFA, NFL) coerce complying with the basic requirements to hold an event, which give a packed confidence of safety and security in mega events. However, prototypes must respect the psychological states of spectators, because they are attending a show and provide an excellent customer service in sport events. The security process in the airports, for example, cannot be compared with the one of entering the venues. Even if the physical objective and the manipulation are the same, the traveler is somehow forced to make his/her trip; however, the sport spectator attends the games for fun, and the security measures should not affect this purpose and intervene with the human rights standards.

These norms are valid for different event sizes and for multiple levels of broadcasting. According to Gibson (1998), event sport tourism refers to tourists who travel to watch sporting events. Examples of event sport tourism may include events, such as, the Olympic Games, World Cup, Professional Golf Association (PGA) tournaments, and events related to professional sport teams or top U.S. college basketball and football teams.

To frame the theory context of our study, we consider SME with two essential grounds. First, the socially contested domain, that is develop the concept of the security field, as derived particularly from the sociology of Bourdieu (1990, 1993, pp. 72-76; see Wacquant, 1989), and as adapted and extended by Crossley (2002, p. 674). Second, risk theories here would include the concept of “reflexive modernization” (Beck, 1992; Lash, Szerszynski, &Wynne, 1996), Foucauldi an thinking regarding new forms of“governmentality” for shaping public actions (O’ Malley,2004), and new perceptions or cultural senses of risk within late-modern societies (Boyne, 2003; Lupton, 1999; Slovic, 2000; Tulloch, 2006). “Risk theory in this regard helps to clarify and to explicate a wide range of social processes associated with sport mega-event securitization: for example, how specific security risks and “risk groups” are identified by relevant stakeholders at different sport mega-events, how security institutions(both public and private) implement specific risk-management techniques within particular contexts and how risk legacies remain in post sport mega-event contexts” (Giulianotti & Klauser, 2010).

Critical Infrastructure

Moteff & Parfomak (2004) define “critical infrastructure as systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of these matters.” As such, critical infrastructure is a highly complex phenomenon. In fact, critical infrastructure for sport venues is interconnected with other systems: facilities, technologies, networks, assets and services essential to the health, safety, security, or economic well-being of citizens, and the effective functioning of government. That is why, it is necessary for sport managers to be updated with the protection strategies provided by the government; unfortunately, “few sporting event organizers use strategic risk management plans. The main hindrance appears to be a lack of information and expertise available on risk management for sporting events. Risk management plans varied to a large extent, which may be due to the absence of accepted national standards for managing risk for sporting events and to the heterogeneous nature of sporting events” (Eisenhauer, 2005).

The major gap in CI lies in the difference in security strategies between the public sector managed by the government and the private sector owned by individuals or institutions. Whereas, “over 85 percent of the critical infrastructure in the United States is controlled by the private sector”(Forest, 2004), it seems that only 15 percent of the facility controlled by the government obeys to strict norms and control.

Indeed, it is worth highlighting that the National Strategy and Action Plan for CI establishes a risk-based approach for strengthening the resiliency and demands billion of dollars. Sport facilities also need an enormous segment to mend its vulnerabilities. “It has been estimated that organizers of sporting events worldwide spend over $2 billion perannum on security, although in years where “blanket security” is required for major events,this figure can rise to $6 billion” (Coaffee & Wood, 2006).

Safety and Security in Mega Events

Governments fear terrorist attacks and political demonstrations during sport mega events, mainly when we consider all Olympics have witnessed terrorist threats, “because there have been 168 terrorist attacks related to sport between 1972 and 2004” (Clark, 2004; Kennelly, 2005). “Since 9/11,the increased threat of terrorism has brought risk management to the forefront of mega-sport-event planning and has resulted in a range of new security measures for sport spectators and tougher safety standards for organizers” (Toohey & Taylor, 2008).

More importantly, protecting CIs must endure with the effective training of staff members and provide the necessary training to enhance performances in skill development processes. Training should frame incidents’ management,risk management and practices of protective measures, safety and security strategies, and business continuity and recovery principles. As “ threats of terrorism and political violence are often not only seen as to endanger the athletes, spectators and local population but also as a symbolic and political embarrassment—and hence financial risk— for host nations and organizing institutions” (Giulianotti & Klauser, 2010).

Atkinson and Young (2002) provide a general explanation of the nexus between sport and terrorism: for many reasons, individual terrorists or terrorist organizations might find suitable targets in athletes participating in games, spectators attending the events, or selected corporate sponsors of sports contests. Especially in those situations where athletic contests draw sizable international audiences in geographical settings already embroiled in strife, sport can be utilized as a vehicle for political sparring and waging and disseminating forms of political violence against others.

Whereas usually audiences attend sport mega events for a noble cause, such as, to apprehend peace principals and to spread camaraderie among people coming from all over the world. This kind of image gets disfigured in the presence of a terrorist act, because an act of terrorism leads to the opposite facade of people’s desire and turns the situation into a deeply dramatic scenario. Researchers are actually focused on the link between sport events and terrorism; “most of these studies have been located in discourses of sport sociology, psychology, and criminology, investigating the cognitive, affective, and overt behavioral aspects of violence. Implications drawn for sport management have primarily been associated with crowd control, risk management and athlete management” (Rubin, 2004; Whisenant,2003).(connect these lines)

For this particular reason, “terrorists also plan their acts to get as much media exposure as possible, thus giving attention to their cause”(Whisenant, 2003). The Olympics have grown with the increase of television broadcasting, “it is logical that terrorists will choose methods of mass destruction, such as bombings, and target transport or places where people gather, such as sport stadia. These reasons explain why mega sport events, such as the Olympic Games, are seen as possible terrorist targets” (Toohey andTaylor, 2008).

As a consequence, “more recently, the Olympic security paradigm has shifted. It now augments the rings of steel attitude, to one that has also encouraged resilience, both physically and managerially, through more counter terrorism measures and dispersing security responsibilities to different agencies and governments, rather than just organizing committees”(Coaffee & Wood, 2006). First, security from the gate should prevent unauthorized entrance to the venue and perform the following duties: keep prohibited items out of the venue, secure perimeters around the venue, conduct security inspections, verify tickets and authenticate credentials. This is a final check that follows extra-large security procedures: no fly zone, protecting access from water, precautions through roads, control of high buildings, preventing electronic and internet attacks, and‘sweeping’ all facilities designated to athletes, media people and spectators.

Indeed, “in planning and executing an attack, terrorists spend a lot of time selecting the target, analyzing and assessing opportunities and vulnerabilities as well as conducting their own research to secure the attack’s successful execution. Considering the time frame and activities associated with hosting the event, the threat to the World Cup starts with the building and renovation of sport facilities. On a strategic level, being able to gain access to plans of stadiums and actual access to facilities during the event takes time and careful planning, but contributes to the success full execution of an attack” (Botha, 2010).

Although infusing the event preparation with high level of security, such pact could be the reason for jamming the host country to gain the organization,the high expenses may be the cause for this failure. Johnson (2008) affirms that “successful security operations at recent games raise questions about whether the high levels of expenditure are proportionate to the level of threat. The security budget is often cited as a reason why many cities will not host the Games. It has also been used by one city to justify their decision not to host the Winter Olympics even after it had been awarded”.

Customer Service in Sporting Venues

Enhancing customer service by event managers (EMs) is now included in the requirements of human rights institutions, for spectators may not be treated as criminals when attending a sport show. The moment of entering a game venue is one of the most sensitive sensations for spectators. This feeling amplifies with the size of the event; therefore, the more important the event is, the greater its historical dimension becomes for the spectator. That is why, dealing with this situation is delicate, because EMs aim at delivering excellent customer service while ensuring strict security rules. Most researchers agree that “one way that a sport event can be differentiated from another event is on the basis of providing a high quality of service. One could argue that it is the only way for event planners to gain a competitive advantage” (Dwyer & Fredline, 2008). The expectations of spectators regarding the event service are associated with the importance of the event itself and with the EM before preparing their customers for admittance procedures to enter the venue. Therefore, “providing the visitor with a superior experience is based upon the event planners’ ability to help coordinate or provide a bundle of high quality services that meet or exceed the expectations of the guests visiting the city. Sport tourism is a service industry which is influenced by the quality of services provided”(Kouthouris & Alexandris, 2005).

Customer Satisfaction

“Customer satisfaction is defined as a pleasurable fulfillment response toward a good, service, benefit, or reward” (Oliver, 1997). Customer satisfaction has been considered as an interpreter of intentions to attend future sporting events (Cronin et al., 2000; Kwon, Trail, &Anderson; 2005; Wakefield & Blodgett, 1996), it has been understood in relation to service quality (Cronin & Taylor, 1992; Dobholkar, Shepherd,& Thorpe, 2000; Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1994), and increases the likelihood of enhanced customer loyalty (Cronin et al., 2000; Oliver,1997). Greenwell et al. (2002) examined how customers’ perceptions of as port facility within the context of service experience influence customer satisfaction. The findings suggest the customers’ perceptions of the physical facility were moderately associated with customer satisfaction.

Putting everyone who wanted access to the venue through a magnetic detector and searching their bags (mag-and-bag) is actually quietly accepted because sport customers know well that sport venues are not excluded from terrorist attacks and everyone will be subject to airport-type security with mag-and-bag and X-ray machines. “These processes functioned according to an agreed level of service; for example, a person queuing for security checking should not wait longer than three minutes. The level of service achieved depended on allocating adequate resources to that process, for example, by allocating 20mag-and-bag security gates to a venue entry”. (Beis et al., 2006).

Although event spectators recognize that these security measures are first established for their protection, they are concerned about the class of people dealing with them at the gates, spectators are undoubtedly anxious when treated by police officers, or military soldiers. Therefore, the major concern of spectators is no longer the way they have been welcomed, nor the security check time, it is rather that civilians have to do with officials while attending a show. The recent security procedures and techniques are far from being complex,for instance, “in terms of the Olympic Games, the variety of tactics used have included the deployment of Olympic police and military units to dedicated Olympic units to patrol the host city and country; the creation of Olympic Intelligence Centers to monitor information and coordinate responses; the formation of international Olympic Security task forces to share information between nations; the increasing use of surveillance, including digital surveillance to augment people; and the implementation of progressively more complex technology to prevent unauthorized access” (Johnson, 2008).

Service quality

Service quality is the conformity to the standard required by ISI. The organization committee has a propensity to achieve all the requirements and to satisfy the customer’s perceptions of that service. The consumer satisfaction literature views these expectations as predictions about what is likely to happen during an impending transaction, whereas the service quality literature views them as desires or wants expressed by the consumer(Kandampully, 2002). Grönroos (1984) defines service quality as “the outcome of an evaluation process where the consumer compares his expectations with the service he perceived he has received.”

Debates lay many concepts to measure service quality. Grönroos (1984)solicited technical quality for what the consumer receives and functional quality to answer how the consumer receives the service. Burns, Graefe, &Absher (2003) focused on the disagreement whether the consumer’s‘desires’ or ‘ideal standard’ should be measured.

Lehtinen and Lehtinen (1991) proposed two approaches to the analysis of service quality and its dimensions. The first approach contains three dimensions consisting of physical quality, interactive quality, and corporate quality. The second approach to the analysis of service quality and its dimensions was composed of two dimensions: process quality and output quality.

A positive experience for spectators let them return for future games. Therefore, EMS make spectators enjoy spending time at the stadium. Various attributes are crucial to attain the constancy of spectators in attending games: quality and outcome of the game, cleanliness of the arena, security in the parking area, seat location, parking location, and cleanliness of the restrooms (Kelley & Turley, 2001). However, venue access is actually a pillar in service quality. Venue access is also different from an event to another and from a country system to another and is mainly managed each time by staff, by civilian employees in the reception, or by official security people.

According to Kelley & Turley (2001), service quality attributes are employees, price, facility access, concessions, fan comfort, game experience,show time, convenience, and smoking. The evaluation of service quality depends on knowing and comparing price, employee action, ambiance stimulation, program evaluation, privilege appreciation and security. Chelladurai and Chang (2000) cite three targets of quality evaluations: a) the core service, b) the physical context such as the physical facilities and equipment in which the service is provided, and c) the interpersonal interactions in the performance of the service.

Authors classify service quality in special dimensions, but focus on the outcome quality in determining the overall service quality with search and experience outcome quality. Brady and Cronin’s (2001) model of service quality has three primary dimensions: a) interaction quality, b) physical environment quality, and c) outcome quality. Ko and Pastore (2004) propose a dimensional model of service quality in the recreation industry composed of program quality, interaction quality, and outcome quality.

Human Rights

“Anti-terrorism laws in a democratic state ruled by law only serve their purpose if they improve the ability of the state to defend itself against terrorist attacks, without excessively restricting the civil rights of the citizens” (Meyer, 2004). The controversy over the balance between liberty and security highlights that jeopardizing freedom for the sake of security creates the tension between security policies and freedom security prevailing over liberty. “The vague definition of public order and thus what may breach it jeopardizes not only the ideally equal implementation of the law in a given territory, but also the protection of civil rights and liberties in that the consequent weakening of the principle of legality entails that of the principle of proportionality and in some cases the principle of accountability” (Tsoukala, 2007).

Liberties are not established by the law and rules only, but are applied by agents who may not conform their practices to those rules; it is not about a misinterpretation but about entity philosophy of priorities’categorization, “while the defenders of human rights see in this shift the symptom of an ongoing redefinition of the power relations between the executive and the people or the (re)positioning of the state and civil agents in the political and security fields (or both), the executive branch refuses to see in it any jeopardizing of civil rights and liberties” (Tsoukala,2007).

Besides economic and sport developments, a mega event serves as a historical landmark and brings prestige and prosperity to the host country.“Research into mega-events and developing nations has been centered about questions of development, place promotion, signaling, identity building and human rights and political liberalization” (Black and Bezanson 2004; Black and van der Westhuizen 2004).

Hosting sport mega events is the responsibility of the government. In case of errors, such burden has been criticized from the international opinion and has also been disparaged by domestic politicians. “Because absolute security cannot be attained, politicians worry about leaving gaps in prevention, because this could have the side effect of making them take responsibility for the harms inflicted the next time. Therefore, politicians tend to maximize their security preparation, at the price of more restrictions on citizens’ freedoms and civil rights than are necessary for effective prevention” (Meyer, 2004).

The protection of human rights must be imbedded in the strategy for the effective combat against terrorism and it cannot be successful safety if there is a lack of respect for human beings and the values of freedom. “The subject of counter-terrorism and human rights has attracted considerable interest since the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) in 2001. In Security Council (2003) and later resolutions, the Council has said that States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, and should adopt such measures in accordance with international law, in particular international human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law” (CTC, 2003).

Precarious balance between security and freedom

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (5th Amendment in the USA) obliges the state to prove criminal behavior and not to take any action against a person suspected of a crime, so everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Ashworth (1998) has rightly suggested that the notion of balance is a rhetorical device of which one must be extremely wary. “Balance” is self-evidently a worthy goal and, thus, acts as a substitute for real argument. Waldron (2003) has identified a problematic connotation of quantity and precision in the language of balance, including the assumption that the relation between security and liberty is a zero-sum game.

Perhaps a separate definition of security and liberty cannot find an intersection that satisfies both; however, we do not need to identify security with liberty. An American hurdler explains, “Every step you take, there are guards with machine guns in the Olympic Village, I know they’re there to protect you, but it’s scary. I’m not used to it, so it makes me cringe a little bit. It wasn’t like this at all in Sydney” (May, 2004).

Foucault (1991, 1997, 2000a, 2000b) has shown how liberalism enacts another form of political rationality that sets mechanisms for a ‘society of security’ in place rather than resist the push to security in the name of liberty. Johnson (2008) further supported: “The Atlanta bombing demonstrated that massive security investments cannot guarantee the safety of the public”Authors, politicians, managers, and philosophers have been conferring to challenge the idea of an equilibrium between security and liberty “to different political projects for the shaping of the modern state, the value of security remained the same. The difference between absolutism and liberalism is, therefore, not that where one stresses security the other stresses liberty; the difference does not lie in the tipping of a mythical ‘balance’ between liberty and security in one direction rather than another. Rather, the difference lies in the fact that absolutists saw no need to identify security with liberty” (Neocleous, 2007). “Much of the discussion concerning the theory and practices surrounding security centers on the relationship between these and their consequences for liberty. Either explicitly or implicitly, the assumption is that we must accept that we have to forgo a certain amount of liberty in our desire for security. The general claim is that in seeking security, states need to constantly limit the liberties of citizens, and that the democratic society is one which has always aimed to strike the right ‘balance’ between liberty and security” (Neocleous, 2007).

Is ‘Vancouver 2010’ a soft Model?

Security became the main condition to host the Olympic Games and other large scale sporting events. Winning these games’ elections for any country is also conditioned by the promotion of human rights and liberties, such events are great occasions to push dictatorship regimes, leading to an improvement in the human rights movement.

“The human rights organization ‘Human Rights Watch’ hopes, that the attention China will get as a result of the Olympic Games will help to improve the human rights situation” (OG & HR, 2008). Gill &Worden (2009) state as an example: “Given the serious ongoing human rights concerns in Russia, we respectfully reiterate our call for the IOC to establish a standing human rights committee or similar mechanism to monitor the adherence by Olympic host countries to basic human rights standards.”

The venue of Salt Lake City Winter Games was heavily populated by officials from the army, the police and many security companies. It is very understandable that ‘there is too much security’ because the Games were hosted a few months after 9/11. “The Athens security operations cost€1 billion, and represented more than 10% of the total direct costs. The expenditure was almost four times greater than for Sydney. There were approximately twice as many security personnel available in 2004 compared to the summer games four years before” (Johnson, 2008). ‘Athens2004’ meant a higher level of security than ever before provided for the games. However, unlike Greece, Italy’s ‘Turin 2006’ has more than enough military personnel and special forces to deal with the threat of all possible terrorist attacks, ranging from bombs to planes and even weapons of mass destruction. The Chinese government in “Beijing 2008” has implemented extraordinary security measures, including the mobilization of the military. “Security has not been thought to require special justification because in many ways it seems preferable to punishment” (Zedner, 2003). The cited Olympics were known as “hard security models” adoption,either the Games were after 9/11, or the political system is based on military management (i.e., China under a communist regime).

Vancouver Winter Games opted for what we call a “mild security model” because the security company charged in flowing spectators to the venues (Contemporary Security Canada) and used civilians to perform mag-and-bag and X-Ray machines. Thus, spectators, while entering to watch the games, are not facing military people or police officers (Figure 1). The second‘layer or belt’ is managed by security supervisors. Then, the role of the police officer (third layer) comes in case of prohibited items found with the intention to infiltrate the venue. In this situation, a male factor is treated with the right corps, and human rights rule is respected. The timing goal set up for the security procedures in the gate is thirty seconds perspectator. The training of screeners, X-Ray operators, and their supervisors was based on ensuring full security vocation while providing gentle spectator access through their portals with the finest performances and an excellent customer service.

Figure 1

It is worth highlighting that the Special Reporter on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights while countering terrorism, operating under the new Human Rights Council, works to identify, exchange, and promote best practices on measures to counter terrorism that respect human rights and fundamental freedom. Security agents represent a brilliant facet to implement the respect for human rights. Sport event spectators admire the fact that they are well informed and welcomed and the security system guarantees 100% of their safety. With a purpose to reach a complete enjoyment for the sports show customers, such “model” is essentially based on two pillars: security and service excellence (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2 – Tools concept for Sport’s Show Joy through Security& Service Excellence.

This study focuses on the conflict between “liberty” and“security” and what model sport event organizers should adopt to match the characteristics of the host country? Then, what are the tools to provide quality service for the spectators? Do timing, security people, and quality information guarantee the comfort desired by the customers? Johnson (2008) also considered the timing and asked: “The organizers of the Turin games advised spectators to leave more than three hours to enter some venues for the 2006 winter games. Such delays raise important questions about how long it is reasonable to expect people to wait in order for security measures to be completed”. Moreover, who is responsible for taking the security measures to prepare, prevent, deter, or delay a future terrorist attack on a sporting event or stadium? How people deem about the concept of ‘CI’?Ultimately, what are the means to raise the trust that spectators are fully protected while attending the games?

These research questions culminate to our main hypothesis: A security model in sport events should respect both the full protection of the venue and the value of human rights while welcoming spectators and subsequently:

  • Providing spectators’ service excellence depends on the time spent at the portal before entering the venue, the quality of communication, the serving staff, and the previously provided information regarding the security measures.
  • The success of a security model in mega sport events is highly conditioned by the cooperation between all corps in charge of this mission, such as government, police, local city head, athletic directors, private security companies, and the structure in use.


Supported by the literature review a total of ten questions were generated to represent two items: (A) ‘Customer service in the event’ and (B)‘Security in the event’.


The study sample covered 1081 respondents (Table 1), composed of 286 journalists and 795 spectators. Journalists were contacted before the games start at MMC, during the competitions in the venues (indoors or outdoors) and in MMC, and after the games in MMC again. Spectators were met on the opening and closing ceremonies, during the competitions in the venues (indoors or outdoors).

<imgalt=”Table 1- The study sample (Journalists & Spectators) for ‘Vancouver 2010’ Winter Olympics.”src=”Desktop/Table 1- The study sample (Journalists & Spectators) for ‘Vancouver 2010’ Winter Olympics..png”width=”673″ height=”329″ />

Table 1- The study sample (Journalists & Spectators) for‘Vancouver 2010’ Winter Olympics.

Media people in the study sample were represented by 75 journalists from Canada (26.2%), 45 journalists from USA (15.7%), 27 journalists from China, 25 journalists from Russia and 15 journalists from Germany. The percentages of spectators are as follows: 53.7% Canadians, 20.5% Americans, 5.5% Chinese, and 3.1% French (Table 2).

<imgalt=”Table 2- Countries of journalists and spectators with classification and percentages”src=”Desktop/Table 2- Countries of journalists and spectators with classification and percentages.jpg”width=”644″ height=”552″ />

Table 2- Countries of journalists and spectators with classification and percentages


Respondents were informed that they are helping a scientific research regarding the service and security in the event. Trained volunteers (event services) of the organization committee conducted the survey in their day-off by contacting the spectator after he/she takes seat and before the game starts to guide the respondent, and as tested before, the tête-à-tête takes six to seven minutes. Extra information was included in the survey content regarding the citizenship and the gender of the respondent. The respondents were randomly assigned for City Venues: Vancouver Olympic Center, Pacific Coliseum, Cypress Mountain, Canada Hockey Place, UBC Thunderbird Arena, Richmond Olympic Oval,and Main Media Center, or for Whistler Venues: Whistler Creekside, Whistler Olympic Park, and The Whistler Sliding Center, which created relatively equal samples for each condition.


The questionnaire consists of items. Item A measures the comfortable time judged when dealing with the security procedures at the venue gates (A1 &A2), the information about the regulations regarding the entrance of the venue and the cooperation (A3 & A4), and the evaluation of service quality provided by the security people (A5). In item (B), the focus was on the security filter met at the portal when entering the venue (B6 & B7), the concept of ‘CI’ (B8), responsibility measures (B9), and the level of security felt by spectators (B10).

The response format for all questions was the five-point Likert scale, with the following values: 1 (Strongly disagree), 2 (Disagree), 3 (Neutral), 4 (Agree), and 5 (Strongly agree). Other five-point summated rating scale used the following format: 1 (Insecure), 2 (Somehow not secure), 3 (Don’tknow), 4 (Somehow secure), and 5 (Secure). In B6 and B9, attendees determine and classify responsibilities.

To determine the content validity of this survey, three experts—university professor specialist in sport event organization, a mega EM, and professional in customer service and marketing—were invited to provide feedback concerning the conceptual appropriateness of the items. Based on this feedback, modifications were made. Then, a pilot test was made and granted a reliability coefficient of .92, the test-retest had a two-week interval for the eighteen spectators who attended hockey games with the same security setup for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. There was an eight-day interval for the seven reporters, because MMC (Main Media Center at Canada place Vancouver) was not operational beyond this range. Based on the relevant results of validity and reliability, the questions were judged to be conceptually appropriate.


The data collected were analyzed using chi-square analyses (X2) and mean scores (M) and standard deviations were calculated (SD). A level of significance of .05 was used to test the results of the study.

Customer service in the event

The study gave a special importance to the timing as a component of quality service. The time spent at the portal for the security procedures before entering the venue was 30 seconds (sec.) per person and Games Security Screening (GSS) targeted it to ensure the visitors’ comfort and security.

Approximately 71% of journalists (M = 95.33; SD = 35.726) declared that they spent less than 30 sec. to get into the venue, but spectators (M =265.00; SD = 301.448) were not in this range because 76% judged that they spent over 30 seconds and even over one minute. The difference between groups is very significant (X2: 328.606, df: 2, p-value: 0). Conformably, the timing cited above influenced the position of journalists (M = 95.33;SD =38.280), half of whom notice that the time granted to the security procedures is reasonable, but the majority of spectators (M = 265.00;SD = 301.448) claimed that the time is uncomfortable. The difference between groups is very significant (X2: 365.561, df: 2, p-value: 0).

Statistics showed a significant difference between both categories of our samples (X2: 208.69, df: 1, p-value: 0); ¾ of journalists (M = 125.00;SD = 70.711) confirmed they were vaguely informed about the regulations regarding the entrance of the venue before they arrived. However, 4/5 of the spectators (M =317.00; SD = 277.186) stated they were not well informed. Regarding cooperation before coming to the venue, results showed that 51% of the journalists (M = 118.50; SD = 4.950) took some precautions and the majority (82%) of spectators (M = 363.50; SD =352.846) did, too. The difference between groups is again significant (X2:208.69, df: 1, p-value: 0).

Although journalists (M = 95.33; SD = 85.043) are satisfied with the service quality provided by the security people (65%), spectators (M =265.00; SD = 56.956) expressed equal evaluations about that service ranging between the dissatisfactory, average, and satisfactory judgements. However, the difference between groups remains significant (X2: 161.478, df: 2,p-value: 0).

Security in the event

While going through security portals, the study population (N: 1081) noticed that the security people they met are mostly “mixed corps” or“no official,” with the following ratio: 39% and 20%, respectively. The respondents did not recognize security people in charge (M = 216.2; SD =124.728), with a percentage of 18%, and no more than 12% distinguished“security company” and 9% “official police” (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3- Security people recognition by respondents

Respondents (787 of 814) confirmed that the security filter at the portalranges between hard to very strong. Statistics confirm that there is no significant difference between journalists and spectators (X2: 0.039, df: 1,p-value: 0.8434).

“The political agenda is ruling the concept of ‘critical infrastructure’ instead of the technical scientific conception”. After investigating into this new design, the majority of our respondents(82.2%) approved of the exposed idea. No significant difference between groups(X2: 1.899, df: 1, p-value: 0.1681) is noticed.

The rank ratio of the classification (Figure 4) made by the respondents in each venue showed that journalists and spectators consider the Local Police or Mounted Police the first people responsible for implementing the security measures to prevent, deter, or delay a future terrorist attack on a sporting event or stadium. Respondents also agreed to classify local city head in the second rank. Journalists, however, gave more importance to Politicians in the Government for the cited task unlike the spectators. Private Security Company was classified fourth for this responsibility. Finally, respondents determined the Private Security Company and the structure in use as last.

Figure 4

Figure 4 – Classification for structures taking the security measures.

When attending these winter Olympics, respondents felt safe at all venues,but with minor differences. The difference between groups is significant (X2:6.951, df: 1, p-value: 0.0083) as the majority of journalists (M = 107.50;SD = 126.572) and 85% of the spectators confirmed feeling very secure(M = 369.50; SD = 361.332).


Customer service in the event rises from the expectation of customers. Spectators seek comfort and security when attending the games, but have some directions to follow from buying the access tickets, to being seated and watching the game. Journalists enter the venue with an accreditation card, which was issued based on a previous security check. The situation explains the timing gap between journalists and spectators. Somehow, media people are trusted customers, so the screening at the gate venue is quick, and accurate recommendations during GSS training were delivered to pay special attention to them, because any incident could spread through the media and ultimately hurt the reputation of the organization. Spectators are considered as unknown customers, so GSS persons deal with different people with diverse backgrounds and different social levels. As a consequence, spectators judged that the security procedure timing exceeds the promised timing. It may represent confusion regarding the waiting time on line and the time spent on the security check before entering the venue, yet statistics confirmed the different attitudes of both the journalists and spectators.

Accordingly, journalists were comfortable to that timing whereas spectators were not. The timing target was not realistic for spectators, if we identify the screeners’ duty as searching bags, magnetometer operation, wanding, physical search, and ticket or accreditation checking, how can we set 30 seconds as the timing target? Event managers with GSS must adjust their timing target vis-à-vis the spectators, media, and especially human rights institutions. Statistics advise to keep the 30 seconds with journalists and aim 1 minute for spectators. Data shows that 1-minute target time for security procedure covers ¾ among spectators, and such timing agreement could be comfortable.

To ensure the safety and enjoyment of all spectators at the Olympics, spectators carrying forbidden items will be asked to either return them, or to dispose them immediately. Prohibited items at security gates cause the delay in entrance and may involve the customer into extra security procedures. That is why, the factor information before the games makes a smoother security-spectator contact. Journalists insisted that they were vaguely informed about the regulations regarding the entrance of the venue. Part of this position is due to the frequency of dealing with such events. Journalists are professionals who are used to attending conferences and events within the same security circumstances, so their jobs expose them to a large experience dealing with security in portals daily and maybe dozens of times. On the contrary, spectators are amateurs, usually with little previous experience in mega events, and sometimes, the excitement to the event makes the spectator forget about the instructions related to the security procedures and even if EMs did spread the information via the media, in the ticket, and by postings around the venues. It is understandable that all spectators took some necessary precautions before coming to the venue. Thanks to this cooperation, their waiting time and the security maneuver took less time. Precautions regarding security procedures for journalists are part of their duties, thus no special focus was required. The study data sustained the first part of our hypothesis that offering the spectators’ service excellence depends on the time spent at the portal before entering the venue, the quality of communication, the staff serving them, and the information previously provided regarding the security measures. Both journalists and spectators were equally satisfied with the event as a whole. Moreover, satisfaction is often evaluated by the joy felt by the event customer; indeed, customers declared not being bothered by any delays and receiving a special warm welcome.

Security agencies attempt to stay out of sight by using an array of surveillance technologies. This approach creates different security belts (layers) around the venues. The sporting event customer prefers to feel secure without seeing too much security people. The study results gave us an idea about the assortment of security people at security portals. It was very important that respondents noticed that the security people they met are mostly mixed corps, or “not official,” that is to say corresponding to the objective of recent “security model,” ensuring utter safety while respecting spectators’ dignity and meeting with civilians in all phases of venue services.

It was obvious for event spectators and journalists that the security filter is strong and they feel very secure. Regarding service quality, many authors highlight that such a feeling is satisfactory enough to judge the event successful. “Technical challenges, among these, the first concern is to ensure the safety and security of competitors and of the public”(Johnson, 2008). Respondents also pointed out that any security failures are the responsibility of the Local Police or Mounted Police, then the City Head gave special importance to Politicians in the Government, because the concept of CI has been removed from the technical and scientific and introduced to the political agenda.

The data supported our full hypothesis, and a security model in sport events should respect both the entire protection of the venue and the value of human rights when welcoming spectators. Vancouver Olympic security was one of the most talked about and most important factors in having a successful event.“After the purpose of a law has ceased to exist, or after coming to realize that some measures are ineffective, freedom’s rights then can regain full validity. This will prevent freedom’s rights from being limited longer than is absolutely necessary” (Meyer, 2004).

Eventually, it is important to stress through Vancouver 2010 how our study has contributed to theory. Whereas most previous research about security in Mega Sport Events merely displayed the problem vaguely, our study attempts to give concrete standards that will pave the way for future events and research.

Kelly and Turley (2001) never mentioned the timing as a major criterion among many that determine the quality and the outcome of the Games. Beis et al.(2006) suggested multiplying mag-and-bag security gates to a venue entry, because a person queuing for security checking should not wait longer than three minutes, and our data categorized all respondents in their range of the real time spent for security measures. Lehtinen and Lehtinen (1991) analyzed the quality of service from many dimensions whereas Chelladurai and Chang(2000) built the service quality on three criteria and failed to specify how this was measured. Greenwell et al. (2002) associated customers’perceptions with customer satisfaction. Our classifications conduct us to match the timing with the comfort level according to each range of the timing spent at the gates.

In sport tourism, Kouthouris and Alexandris (2005) considered the quality service as an event planner’s ability to coordinate with visitors. Our study differentiated the journalists from the spectators in terms of how they cooperated by taking actions that helped in the security context before appearing in the venue. Earlier, most authors merely classified service quality from different perspectives, but mainly focused on the outcome quality (Brandy& Cronin, 2001; Ko & Pastore, 2004). Dwyer and Fredline in 2008 noticed that a sport event could be differentiated from another just by its quality of service. Our study quantified the satisfaction and the dissatisfaction about the service for both journalists and spectators.

May (2004) witnessed that athletes could be negatively influenced by an excessive security presence to the point that they get scared. Tsoukala (2007) noticed that human rights defenders refuse the domination of security fields on people. Thus, our study scanned visitors’ opinions about security people and the types of visible corps nearby and at portals.

The concept of liberty, as perceived by Ericson and Doyle (2004) and Botha(2010), is that terrorists keep entire populations in fear and in security, which precipitates the urge for more severe security measures. The 2010 Olympic Games testified that journalists and spectators equally felt secure and serene, and judged the security filter at the portal as ‘hard to very strong’. Therefore, our data demonstrated that attendees were not terrorized or destabilized thanks to the tougher security standards adopted by the organizers. Our data, then, further support Toohey and Taylor’s(2008) findings.

Whereas Owen’s conceptualization (2004) of security responsibility proved to be vague, Coaffee and Wood (2006) made different agencies and governments share security rather than restricting it to organizing committees. Our data specifically ranked the “local police or mounted police”and the “local city head” as the first ones responsible for preventing, or delaying any potential terrorist attack on a well-defined sporting event, but also highlighted the differences in rank ratio between journalists and spectators.

Ashworth (1998) and Waldron (2003) cleared the notion of balance between security and liberty, Tsoukala (2007) defined the protection of civil rights and liberties vis-à-vis of public order and Johnson (2008) confirmed that successful security operations must be proportionate with the level of threat. This study provided a final report about the different attitudes of journalists and spectators in terms of comfort and service quality and also confirmed that these respondents felt secure during V2010. “In general terms, for social scientists, the contemporary security processes at sport mega-events have very strong social, political, and geographical dimensions, as reflected through social relationships, the everyday politics of the “war on terror,”and urban redevelopment” (Giulianotti & Klauser, 2010).


Using event service volunteers to conduct the survey was helpful. With their accreditation passes, they were easily moving between portals and had greater access to diverse spectators in different areas. However, we did not use this advantage to touch intensely other details in the questionnaire. It was the work of experts who validated the survey as they trimmed the questionnaire to avoid falling in the discomfort of respondents!

An attractive area for further research is to excavate deeply the data and find the divergence between indoor and outdoor venues. Moreover, integrating the difference between Olympics and Paralympics may be an addition to testing the proposed model. London was awarded the right to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the United Kingdom suffered from recent terrorist attacks. “The 2012 Olympics will see further security legacies intechnological terms, including microphones attached to CCTV cameras and a massive extension of the national DNA database” (Giulianotti &Klauser, 2010). Then, which security model should they adopt in these Olympic Games? Contacts were made to scope a similar questionnaire with the games’ specification.


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2016-10-21T09:09:50-05:00August 21st, 2013|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Facilities, Sports Management|Comments Off on Security Models in Mega Sport Events between Safety and Human Rights (Case of Vancouver 2010)

Assessing Value of the Draft Positions in Major League Soccer’s SuperDraft



This paper assigns various performance  measures to players who have been drafted in the SuperDraft of Major League Soccer. These measures are then used to assess the value of draft position. As a by-product of the analysis, we provide an estimate of the trajectory of player performance in a soccer career. Both the valuation of draft position and the career trajectory analysis may be important tools for general managers in Major League Soccer.


By all measures, soccer (or football as it is more commonly known) is the most popular sport in the world (The Economist 2011). In the United States and Canada, the highest level of soccer is played in Major League Soccer (MLS). As of 2012, MLS consisted of 19 clubs divided into the Eastern Conference (10 teams) and the Western Conference (9 teams). Unlike the traditional European fall-to-spring schedule, the MLS season begins in March and ends in November. The MLS team with the best regular  season record is the recipient of the Supporters Shield and the winner of the MLS playoffs receives the MLS Cup.

There are various ways that  MLS teams acquire players for their rosters. One such mechanism is the annual SuperDraft  whereby players are placed on the draft-eligible list via nomination from MLS clubs. Most of these players are US college players. Players are then drafted by MLS teams in the inverse order of team performance from the previous  season. The ordering is an attempt to improve competitive balance within the league. The number of players drafted has varied since the inception of the SuperDraft in 2000. In the most recent draft of 2012, 38 players were drafted (two rounds involving the 19 MLS clubs).

The primary problem considered in this paper is the valuation of draft order in the SuperDraft. This is a fundamental problem for general managers in MLS. Consider the following hypothetical scenarios where the knowledge of draft value would be useful:

Your team has a glaring weakness at fullback and you have the 20th pick in the draft. What are the chances that the draftee can satisfy your needs at fullback? Would it be a better strategy to fill this position via a trade or via a designated player?

Your team is facing salary cap constraints and you have the 10th pick in the draft. What is the salary expectation for the player?

Your team has the draft rights for both the 10th and 11th picks. Would it be in your interest to trade both of these picks for the first draft pick?

The valuation of draft order was first considered in the context of the annual draft of the National Football League (NFL). Armed with a draft value chart, Jimmy Johnson (coach of the Dallas Cowboys) made informed trades on draft day in 1991, acquiring a whopping 19 players for the Dallas Cowboys. These informed trades eventually turned the team’s fortunes around as Dallas won three Superbowls within the next five years. Moskowitz and Wertheim (2011) provide an entertaining account of the use of draft value charts in the NFL.

The early chart was constructed according to the value of draft picks based on actual trades that took place. Massey and Thaler (2010) investigated the chart, and using data based on future salary contracts, determined that the early chart overvalued high draft picks. For example, although the first draft pick is valuable, the early chart suggested that the first pick is more valuable than is actually the case. Shuckers (2011) corroborated the overvaluation associated with the early draft chart via alternative measures of player performance. Shuckers (2011) subsequently proposed an alternative draft value chart. In other sports with drafts, Berry (2001) has looked at the success of first round picks. However, it does not appear that there has been any published investigation of the value of draft order in the MLS SuperDraft.

One of the complicating factors in assessing the value of draft order in the SuperDraft is that many of the players who have been drafted have not yet reached their peak level of play. Although some players when drafted in their early 20’s are unable to make an immediate contribution, through training and experience, they eventually become serviceable MLS players. We therefore want to be able to assess the future value of draft picks.

In section 2, we address this problem by estimating career trajectories of soccer players. Common sense dictates that players generally improve early in their career, then peak, and finally experience a decline in performance. The age at which they peak, and the extent of their improvement/deterioration  around the peak is the focus of section 2. Careful data collection is required to assess player productivity. Although the estimation of career trajectories is a necessary step in assessing draft order value, the problem itself is one of considerable interest to general managers. For example, what length and value of a contract should be offered to a player who is two years past his peak?

In section 3, we assess the value of draft position. The primary difficulty in the exercise is the determination and collection of performance measures. Clearly, a common metric such as “goals scored” is not relevant to all positional players. For example, defenders are not expected to score goals. The end product of our analysis are graphs of value plotted against draft position. Various graphs are provided based on various performance measures. With such graphs, one can assess for example, the relative value of the 20th draft pick to the first draft pick. We conclude with a short discussion in section 4.


Assessing performance in soccer is not a straightforward task. For example, although goals scored is a popular and important statistic, it is not relevant to all positional players, especially defenders. Also, imagine a player who changes teams and experiences a surge in productivity. This may have more to do with circumstances surrounding his new team than an improvement in his personal play. In this section we make a number of subjective and hopefully reasonable decisions with respect to assessing player performance. Yearly performance data coupled with age data will help us to evaluate career trajectories  in soccer.

We began by considering players who have played on top flight clubs for a period of at least five consecutive seasons. We have chosen 12 teams from Europe which have been traditional footballing powers. The rationale is that these clubs are of the highest quality and consistency. Therefore an observed change in performance when competing for these clubs is assumed to convey a change due to the player. We have restricted our analysis to the “modern” era of soccer beginning with the 1992/1993 season when the English Premier League was formed. We have excluded goalkeepers from the analysis as it is well known that keepers can remain competitive at more advanced ages. For example, Edwin van der Sar retired as keeper from Manchester United following the 2010/11 season at 40 years of age. Although players from the 12 chosen clubs are of exceptional quality, we assume that the average career trajectory for players at these clubs is not unusual.For example, this implies that the average peak age for players at the elite clubs should be the same as the average peak age for all professional soccer players.

From the websites  and we identified 232 players who met our criteria. These players played a total of 1791 seasons. We were also able to collect seasonal performance data on each of the players in terms of minutes played. Although minutes played does not capture all of the elements of performance, it is clearly a sensible measure of worth. The data are summarized in Table 1.

Team League No. Players
Arsenal English Premier League 25
Chelsea English Premier League 11
Liverpool English Premier League 23
Manchester United English Premier League 25
Bayern Munich German Bundesliga 26
AC Milan AS Italian Serie A 20
Roma Italian Serie A 18
Internazionale Italian Serie A 14
Juventus Italian Serie A 18
Barcelona Spanish La Liga 20
Real Madrid Spanish La Liga 16
Valencia Spanish La Liga 16
Overall 232


Table 1: Summary data for players who have played at least five consecutive years with a top flight club sometime during the 1992/93 through 2011/12 seasons.

Recall that our objective in this section is the evaluation of career trajectories. Therefore, we want to assess individual player performance at different ages where player performance is measured against himself. Accordingly, let xij denote the minutes played for the ith player at age j in the season where the player was j years old on January 1. The beginning of January is roughly halfway through the traditional fall-spring soccer season. Corresponding to xij, let wij be the number of available minutes during the season where wijis the product of 90 minutes and the number of games  that his team played in the season. We then define zij= xij/wij as a performance statistic for the i the player in the given season as it represents his proportion of available minutes on the field. To provide a personal measure of performance for the ith player at age j, we define


where the maximum is taken over all of his active seasons at the club. Therefore the personal performance measure ppij for the i player has a maximum value of 100% in at least one of his seasons. Note that we only considered matches played in the domestic  season. Our rationale for this choice is that other matches (e.g. friendlies, FA Cup, Europa League, Champions League, etc) may not have a consistent level of competition. Also, it is well known that players are often given rest when matches are scheduled in frequent succession.

In Figure 1, we provide a scatterplot of the personal performance measure ppij versus age j based on minutes played for all players over all seasons. The plot consists of 1791 points. Although there is considerable variability in the scatterplot, the lowess function describes the overall trend. The shape of the lowess plot corresponds to our intuition where performance improves early in a career, then peaks, and concludes with a period of decline. We observe that typical player performance peaks at roughly 24-27 years of age. Also, the drop off is minimal for roughly two years surrounding the peak period. The improvement early in a career is more rapid than the decline at the end of a career. We note that although the peak period of 24-27 years appears to be in rough agreement with common opinion (, we know of no quantitative study that has provided  such an interval. A miscalculation by even a couple of years can have dire consequences for general managers when deciding upon long term contracts. The parameters of the lowess function were set according to span=0.5 and degree=2 which is consistent with the analyses of Shuckers (2011). The choice of the span parameter appears reasonable as we do not want large fractions of the data to fit local segments of the trajectory curve. For example, the trajectory at young ages does not likely have much to do with longevity. The degree parameter  should also take a value exceeding 1 since we do not expect linear segments in the trajectory curve. Setting degree=2 provides more curvature.

Figure 1

Figure 1:  Scatterplot of the personal performance  measure ppij based on minutes played versus age. A lowess fit is included to help assess the overall trend.

Recall that each player has at least one plotted value of 100%. Accordingly, there is an inherent assumption that data are collected over a period that includes each player’s peak years of play. The assumption is valid for most players since it is unlikely that a player had five consecutive years of form that were all below peak performance, yet he managed to play on one of these top flight teams. However, to check the robustness of the assumption, we have repeated the analysis based on a restricted subset of 129 players  who played at least seven consecutive seasons with one of the 12 top flight clubs. These players played a total of 1229 seasons. A greater period of seasons improves the chance of capturing a player’s peak year. We found no meaningful difference in the resultant plot when compared to Figure 1. Related to the assumption, we encountered 9 players (e.g. Zinedine Zidane) who played at least five years on each of two teams from our list. In these cases, we only retained the years at the club where the player was 26 years of age. In the case of Zidane, we used his Juventus years instead of his years at Real Madrid.

How do we interpret the vertical scale in Figure 1? From 24-27 years of age, an average player operates at roughly 75% of top performance. Similarly, an average 34 year old operates at roughly 50% of top performance. Therefore, we might view the 35 year old as being able to contribute 50/75 two thirds of what he was able to contribute at his peak. Here, the measure of contribution can be interpreted in minutes played.


In this section we investigate the relationship between player value and draft position in the MLS SuperDraft. To facilitate the investigation,  SuperDraft provides the entire history of the MLS SuperDraft going back to the inaugural draft on February 6, 2000. The list consists of a total of 745 players chosen in the 13 drafts from 2000 through 2012. The number of players drafted per year ranges from 72 (2001) to 38 (2012).

Whereas obtaining the draft position of each player is uncontroversial and routine, the determination of player value is far from straightforward. As in section 2, we first consider value measures based on minutes played. Another indicator of player value which we consider is yearly salary. Although players can be underpaid or overpaid in a given contract, subsequent player contracts tend to adjust to reality. A difficulty  with using salary as a proxy for performance is that there are time lags between observed performance and contract. Fortunately, for the MLS, there are good sources of data. For minutes played, we made use of and player’s personal Wikipedia sites. For salary information, data are available for the six seasons 2007 through 2012 at info.html. We had to dig deeper for earlier seasons, referring to for the 2006 season, id=3103 for the 2005 season and  for the 2004 season.

Before the various value metrics are introduced, we indicate some general problems that need to be addressed with respect to player valuation:

A spectacular  season is valuable to a club. There is also value in a longstanding career. How do we balance short term performance with longevity?

How do we assess a player who was drafted in the SuperDraft but went on to play in some other league? For example, Clint Dempsey was drafted 8th in the 2004 SuperDraft by the New England Revolution. However, since 2006/07, Dempsey has played in the English Premier League for both Fulham and Tottenham. Clearly, Dempsey is a valuable player although he has only limited MLS data.

In our current list of drafted players, some players are still young and have not yet reached their full potential. Should we assess their value on some combination of current performance and future performance? The career trajectory plot Figure 1 may be helpful in this regard.

With the growth of the MLS, there has been an escalation in salaries over time. How do we compare a salary from the early years to recent salaries?

To facilitate a comparison of various metrics, we define each metric on a scale of 0 to 100. We begin by considering minutes played in regular season MLS matches. The restriction to regular season matches levels the comparison amongst players since each team has the same number of games of comparable importance. For each player, we calculated his percentage of total minutes played relative to available minutes in a season. This was done for each year over all of his MLS seasons. We then defined the player performance metric y1 for a given player as his maximum percentage over his MLS career. We also defined the player performance metric y2 for a given player as his average percentage over his three best MLS seasons. Therefore, the measure y2 favours career longevity over y1.

In the case of players who have gone on to play in ldquo;superior” leagues, we arbitrarily assign a percentile rank of 90% in seasons where they played in superior leagues. We define a superior  league as any of the four famous leagues listed in Table 1. Players who have made it to one of these four top flight leagues have typically developed in the MLS before making their jump to the big time. Although there are other leagues that many football fans would agree are better than the MLS (e.g. Liga Portuguese (Portugal), Ligo Do Brasil (Brasil), Ligue One (France), Primera Liga (Argentina), Eredivisie (Holland)), very few MLS drafted players have gone on to play in these professional leagues. When an MLS draftee plays in leagues other than the MLS or one of the four top flight leagues, we assign a percentile rank of 0% for those seasons. A 0% score is also assigned to players who discontinue playing. A rationale for the 0% performance score is that it was a mistake to draft such a player as they did not contribute to the MLS team that drafted them. In our list of MLS drafted players, only 12 played in superior leagues. Of the 339 that played in other leagues, 277 played in the NASL (North American Soccer League) or the USL (United Soccer Leagues) which can truly be viewed as lower quality leagues compared to the MLS. When a player belonged to multiple leagues in a year, we used the league where he played most of his games.

To account for young players who have not yet reached their top level of performance (i.e. less than 24 years of age), we imputed values for their unobserved seasons. For example, suppose that we have a 21 year old player in the MLS who has just completed a season. We take his minutes played as a 21 year old and multiply by l(22)/l(21) to obtain his predicted minutes as a 22 year old where l(x) is the value of the lowess function at age x in Figure 1. We do not allow predicted percentages to exceed 100%. The determination of player ages was not as straightforward as we had hoped; there were at least six additional websites that we accessed to collect birthdates.

An obvious difficulty with the minutes played variables y1 and y2 is that they do not account for team strength. For example, it is easier to play extended minutes on a poorer performing club than at a stronger club. Another difficulty with these measures is that there are a number of players who represent their club in nearly all of the regular season matches. Therefore minutes played does not adequately distinguish these players in terms of performance.

Our preferred performance metrics are based on salary data. Varying team strength is less of an issue when dealing with salary data since league-wide  salary caps exist. Salary caps help to impose a realism on salaries so that players are paid what they are worth. An exception are the salaries paid to designated players who are not MLS draftees. For each player, we calculated his percentile rank for a given year based on his salary relative to all MLS players in that year. Thus the comparison sensibly involves the performance of draftees against the population of MLS players. This was done for each year over all of his MLS seasons. We then defined the player performance metric y3 for a given player as his maximum percentile rank over his MLS career. We also defined the player performance metric y4 for a given player as his average percentile rank over his three best MLS seasons. We used the same rules as above in handling players who have gone on to play at superior clubs and for young players who have not yet reached their full potential. In the case of multi-year contracts, the amount that a player received in a year is used as his yearly salary.

In Figure 2, we provide a scatterplot of the preferred y4 metric versus draft position. To assess the overall trend, a lowess plot is superimposed. We observe the anticipated pattern that early draft picks have more value. The plot decreases rapidly during the early picks and then levels off. It is interesting that there is little additional value beyond draft position 25. What this suggests is that whereas general managers have good intuition of value early in the draft, late draft picks are more or less a crapshoot. It also suggests for example that managers should value a 50th draft pick as about equal to a 25th draft pick. If this sort of information is not well understood, a savvy manager may be able to trade a 25th draft choice for a 50th draft choice plus additional assets. We observe from the variability in the plot that it is still possible to draft a productive player late in the draft but the probability of doing so is much decreased. Moreover, the variability is greater for early draft picks. This suggests that that there may be great pressure for teams drafting early as an early draft choice can turn out to be either a star or a bust. With less expected of late draft picks, there may only be upside for a general manager. How might we interpret the vertical scale of the plot? According to the salary metric, the first draft pick provides you with a player who on average ranks in the top 85.6% of players in the MLS. The first draft pick is about 1.7 times as valuable as the 10th draft pick and is about 5.3 times as valuable as the 20th draft pick in terms of salary. Finally, we note that we obtain a very similar plot if y4 is based on the best four seasons rather than the best three seasons. For ease of reference, the values of the loess curve in Figure 2 are provided in the pick value chart given in Table 2 of the Appendix.

In Figure 3, we provide a comparison of the lowess plots using each of the four proposed metrics. We observe that each plot conveys similar information and this provides assurance that the valuations are meaningful. For example, all four plots indicate that the first draft pick injects a team with a player who on average will rank roughly in the top 80% of MLS players. The level of agreement in the four curves was a bit of a surprise to us as we were aware of the flaws in assessing value based on minutes played. For the most part, we also note that y1 dominates y2 and that y3 dominates y4. This suggests that the consideration of a single season (y1 and y3) tends to inflate a player’s value when compared to their performance over multiple seasons (y2 and y4). Finally, we note that the preferred metric y4 lies amongst the middle of the four lowess curves.

Figure 2

Figure 2: Scatterplot of the value metric y4 versus draft position. A lowess fit is included to help assess the overall trend.


The major contribution of the paper is the construction of Figure 1 and Figure 2. In Figure 1, we have estimated the performance trajectory of soccer players (excluding  keepers). The plot may be of value to general managers in planning team rosters and offering contracts. In Figure 2, we have estimated  the value of draft picks in the MLS SuperDraft. This may also be of value to general managers when planning rosters and assessing trades.

The major difficulty in both the construction of Figure 1 and Figure 2 is the determination of player value. Value is a subjective quantity and involves many factors including player age, the assessment of the importance of longevity, positional characteristics, the confounding of individual and team characteristics, changes in league salaries and missing data. We have attempted to handle these issues sensibly and we note that various value metrics have lead to similar results (see Figure 3). Data collection and data management also proved to be a substantial exercise in obtaining our results. It may be interesting to extend the work by restricting analyses to various positions (e.g. defenders, midfielders,  forwards) although this reduces the sizes of data sets and often introduces uncertainties with respect to the categorization of players.

Figure 3

Figure 3: Lowess plots for each of the value metrics.

Finally, a relatively new change may affect the future of the MLS SuperDraft. In 2006, the Home Grown player criteria was established in the MLS to nurture promising young players living in the vicinity of an MLS team. The designation requires commitment by players to practice/play sufficiently under the club’s development system. Teams may then sign a player to their first professional contract if the player has trained for at least one year in the club’s youth development program and has met the league’s Home Grown player criteria. The important implication is that such players do not participate in the SuperDraft. Therefore, although the Home Grown player program is currently in flux, should it gain widespread popularity, it may eventually dilute the quality of the SuperDraft.


Pick    Value Pick    Value Pick    Value Pick    Value
01       85.6
02       81.5
03       77.5
04       73.5
05       69.5
06       65.6
07       61.7
08       57.9
09       54.2
10       50.5
11       46.8
12       43.2
13       39.7
14       36.1
15       32.7
16       29.2
17       25.4
18       21.9
19      18.8
20      16.1
21      13.5
22      11.3
23      09.6
24      08.3
25      07.3
26      06.3
27      05.7
28      05.4
29      05.1
30      04.8
31      04.7
32      04.6
33      04.3
34      04.1
35      04.0
36      03.8
37      03.6
38      03.5
39      03.5
40      03.4
41      03.3
42      03.3
43      03.3
44      03.2
45      03.1
46      03.1
47      03.1
48      03.0
49      02.9
50      02.7
51      02.6
52      02.5
53      02.3
54      02.2
55      02.0
56      01.9
57      01.7
58      01.6
59      01.4
60      01.2
61      01.1
62      00.9
63      00.7
64      00.6
65      00.4
66      00.2
67      0.00
68      0.00
69      0.00
70      0.00
71      0.00
72      0.00


Table 2: Pick value chart corresponding to the lowess curve in Figure 2.




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Massey, C. and Thaler, R.H. (2010). “The loser’s curse: overconfi dence vs. market efficiency in the National Football League draft”,

Moskowitz, T.J. and Wertheim, L.J. (2011). Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind how Sports are Played and Games are Won, Crown Archetype: New York.
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2017-11-02T13:56:36-05:00June 13th, 2013|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Management|Comments Off on Assessing Value of the Draft Positions in Major League Soccer’s SuperDraft
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