Authors: Necmettin Parlak, Unal Karli*(1),
(1) Unal Karli is faculty member of Izzet Baysal University, School of Physical Education and Sport. His research area is sport management and marketing.
Unal Karli, PhD.
Izzet Baysal University, School of Physical Education and Sport
Gölköy, Bolu, TURKEY
mobile phone: +90 505 767 1169
The purpose of the present study was to determine whether any relationship existed between team identification levels and gambling preferences of sport consumers who put bets on the games of their supported football team. The subject group of the study was composed of university students (N=223) who were participating in football bets. Turkish version of Sport Spectator Identification Scale (15) and a vignette developed by the researchers, to identify the bettors’ team preferences while placing bets on the games (national league, European league and derby games) of their supported team, were the data collection instruments. According to the 3×2 Two-Way Contingency Table analysis, results pointed that significant relationship existed between the team identification level and betting preferences only in the case of derby games, (χ2(2, N=223), 6.03, p=.04, Cramer’s V= .164). No significant relationship was identified between the team identification levels and betting preferences of the subjects in the cases of national league, (χ2(2, N=223), 3.47, p=.18, Cramer’s V= .125) and European league games, (χ2(2, N=223), 3.92, p=.14, Cramer’s V= .133). As a conclusion, it could be said that team identification is a determinant factor in bettors’ team preferences in derby games. The results of this study would be beneficial in identifying the betting behavior pattern of football gamblers who constitute a huge market in sport industry.
KEYWORDS: gambling, psychological adherence, loyalty, fan behavior, football
Spectator identification level, a kind of reference point of sport fans’ loyalty towards their team, has been an interesting subject for researchers and scholars in the area of sport consumer behavior and sport marketing. It has been dealt from various aspects, in numerous psycho-social (1, 3, 14, 34, 35) and marketing research studies (26, 32).
Also, as psychological adherence towards a team or an athlete (36), identification which creates diversities in the spectators comments about the supported team’s competition results (22), has been focus point of the sport spectator/fan behavior researches.
Team Identification and Sport Spectator/Fan Consumer Behavior
The reviewed studies emphasize that team identification, which has positive effects on the self-confidence levels and psychological well being of individuals (6), has positive relationship with fans’ satisfaction level and consumption behaviors as consumers (5). The increase in the level of identification with team induces the fans’ intention to buy the products of the firms who sponsored the team (21). Contributory studies parallel to Madrigal’s (21) research, pointed significant positive relationship between fans’ team identification level and their attitude towards sponsor firms, satisfaction with sponsor firms and consuming the products of sponsor firms (16). Further, Smith et al. (25) highlighted that fans who support their team passionately and ambitiously, and stay optimistic about their team were more enthusiastic in buying the sponsor firms products. Besides these researches, Theodorakis et al. (28), reported that the fans identification level with the team they support has significant impact on their service quality perceptions which is influential in the re-purchase behavior. While service quality was found as foreground determinant in the re-purchase behavior of the fans that showed low identification with the team they have supported, it had no significant effect on the re-purchase behavior of highly identified fans.
Furthermore, there are studies drawing attention to the significant relationship between team identification level and consumption behaviors categorized as loyalty and adherence. The frequency rate of following and going to the supported team’s matches (32), the amount of money and time spent for the team (33) and consuming team merchandise and media products (11) was significantly higher in highly identified fans when compared with the low identifiers.
Sports Gambling and Sport Gamblers as Sports Consumers
Sport gambling, as a financial risk taking activity, is one of the most trendy entertainment sectors in sport market.
In respect to financial data, day after day the market share of the sport gambling sector in sport industry increases in all over world. In Turkey, while the Spor-Toto Football Super League reaped a profit of 234.934.081 Turkish Liras (approx. 78.311.360 US dollars) from the sports betting sector in 2004, in 2011 this amount increased to 4.895.265.815 Turkish Liras (approx. 1.631.755.271 US dollars, currency dated January, 23, 2016), (17).
In United States, Nevada, the money from the legal sports bets was amounted to 2.6 billion US dollars and 2.8 billion US dollars (20). These statistics refers to an increase in the number of sport consumers who consume sport via placing bets on the outcome of the sport competitions.
Even sports gambling sector is an important segment of sport industry; it did not get the adequate concern from the scholars of sport marketing. The intensity of scientific studies on individuals who consume sport through gambling is limited. In the literature there are studies which dealt with the personality of gamblers (37), motivational factors that lead subjects participating in gambling (2, 7-9), and the risk-taking attitudes of gamblers (10). Except Karlı’s (18) research on the university students who put bets on the results of football matches, aforementioned researches were interested with general gambler population. On the other hand, even sport gambling is a developing market in sport industry, the literature lacks of studies which specifically focused on sport gamblers as the stakeholders of the market.
Rational of the Study
As mentioned previously, the literature is comprised of studies dealing with the relationship between fan identification level and loyalty behaviors, such as, attending to the games live in the stadium (32), following games and watching them on TV (23, 24), spending time and money (33), and buying club merchandises, which carry on the colors or logo of the supported team (19). Almost all of these studies have mentioned the significant positive relationship between spectator/fan identification level and behavioral loyalty activities. The results revealed that the stronger the individuals’ psychological adherence to their team, the higher is the probability of performing loyalty activities. From this point of view, this research wondered the relationship between the spectators’ identification level and their loyalty towards their team when betting on the favor of supported team. Classifying, gambling on the favor of supported team, as a loyalty behavior seems questionable. But, even it may not exactly match up with the loyalty behaviors mentioned in the relevant literature, putting bet on the favor of a team means taking position on behalf of that team at least until to the end of the game. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore whether psychological loyalty towards the supported team impacts the betting preferences of football gamblers while putting their bets on the games of their supported team.
Participants and Data Collection
Participants were N=223 undergraduate students, who participate in football gambling activities, form a university located in west region of Turkey. Because of having no recorded database about the respondents who bet on football, each subject was asked if s/he participated in football gambling activities or not. The ones who declared that they gamble on football were provided a self-administered questionnaire. The process was grounded on voluntary participation and all participants were assured complete anonymity.
Turkish version of the Sport Spectator Identification Scale (15) developed by Wann and Branscombe (33) and a statement developed by the authors, to determine the students’ gambling preferences while putting their bets on the results of their supported team’s games was conducted to the participants.
Sport Spectator Identification Scale (SSIS)
Sport Spectator Identification Scale (33), which have proven its validity and reliability in various languages such as, French (4), Portuguese (30), Greek (29), Japanese (31) and Turkish (15) is a uni-factored seven item 8-point Likert type scale with response options ranging from 1 (low identification) to 8 (high identification). While the lowest score that the participants can gather from the scale is 7, the highest score can be 56. In general, the scores lower than 18 represents low level identification, the scores between 18-35 shows middle level identification and the ones higher than 35 represents high level identification (36).
Team Preference Behavior while Gambling on the Supported Team’s Games
This section, the second part of the survey packed, is composed of such a statement “While I gamble on the game results of any team, I take the statistics and betting proportions into consideration. I also behave in the same manner while I make my decision on the bets of my supported team’s games in which high possibility of defeat exists and put my bet on the favor of opponent team”, developed by the researchers to identify the participants’ team preferences while placing their bets on the games of their supported team in the national league, in European league games such as UEFA and Champions league and in the derby games which are played with the sworn components. Participants were required to evaluate the mentioned statement for the conditions above and give their response as “yes” or “no”.
The statistical analysis of this study comprised of two stages. Preliminarily, confirmatory factor analysis was conducted to the “Sport Spectator Identification Scale” (15) to evaluate its construct validity. Then, to determine the relationship between football gamblers’ team identification level and their team preference during gambling 3×2 Two-Way Contingency Table analyses and to identify between which groups the difference existed Chi-square test was conducted. Holm’s Sequential Bonferroni method was applied to control type I error in .05 level for the three comparisons (13).
Structural Validity of SSIS
The confirmatory factor analysis results revealed that the t values, related with the state of latent variables ability to explain the observed variable, were statistically significant at 0.01 levels. The ratio of χ2 with df (χ2/df) was 4.23, which meant middle level conformity. The RMSA value was .12, which is valued as low conformity (27). Besides, the good conformance values of AGFI (.86) and GFI (.93), the SRMR value revealed a perfect conformance with the value of .043. Also, NNFI (.95) and CFI (.97) values pointed excellent conformity.
Due to the modification suggestion recommended in the first trial of CFA, which pointed a significant decrease in χ2, the confirmatory factor analysis is repeated for the second time. The items 2 and 3 were treated to modification according to suggestion of first CFA. After the repeated analysis the χ2/df ratio decreased to 2.51 and RMSEA (0.08) showed good fit. Additionally to the good conformity of GFI, which increased to .96 and AGFI, which increased to .91, with a decrease to .033 the SRMR value demonstrated an excellent fit. Also NNFI (.98) and CFI (.99) indexes pointed excellent conformity.
Results of 3×2 Two-way Contingency Table Analyses
As it is displayed in the Table 1, 5.4% of participants are low level identified spectators, 16.1% are middle level identified spectators and 78.5 % of the participants were highly identified spectators.
The relationship between team identification level and team preference behavior while betting on supported team’s derby games
As a result of the two way contingency table analyses, which was conducted to determine if any relationship existed between participants’ team identification levels and their team preference while putting bet on the derby games of their supported team, the team identification levels and the preferences of the subjects are displayed in the Table 2.
The percentages of the participants who said no to the question in the circumstance of derby games in the order of their team identification level from low identification to high identification level were .42, .31 and .53, (Table 2).
Results revealed significant relationship between the team identification levels and betting preferences of the subjects while gambling on derby games, (χ2(2, N=223), 6.03, p=.04, Cramer’s V= .164), (Table 3).
After the two-way contingency table analysis, according to the results of chi-square tests, which were conducted to identify the difference between the proportions, significant difference was identified between the middle level identified participants and high level identified participants (Table 4). The probability of preferring their supported team while putting bets on the result of derby game was 1.70 times (.53/.31) more for high level identified participants when compared to middle level identified participants.
The relationship between team identification level and team preference behavior while betting on supported team’s games in national league
As a result of the two-way contingency table analyses, which was conducted to determine if any relationship existed between participants’ team identification levels and their team preference while putting bet on the national league games of their supported team, the team identification levels and the preferences of the subjects are displayed in the Table 5.
The percentages of the participants who said no to the question in the circumstance of national league games in the order of their team identification level from low identification to high identification level were .50, .33 and .50, (Table 5).
Results revealed that there was no significant relationship between the team identification levels and betting preferences of the subjects while gambling on national league games, (χ2(2, N=223), 3.47, p=.18, Cramer’s V= .125), (Table 6.).
The relationship between team identification level and team preference behavior while betting on supported team’s games in European league
As a result of the two-way contingency table analyses, which was conducted to determine if any relationship existed between participants’ team identification levels and their team preference while putting bet on the European league games of their supported team, the team identification levels and the preferences of the subjects are displayed in the Table 7.
The percentages of the participants who said no to the question in the circumstance of European league games in the order of their team identification level from low identification to high identification level were .33, .25 and .42, (Table 7).
No significant relationship was determined between participants’ team identification level and their betting preferences while gambling on their supported team’s European league matches, (χ2(2, N=223), 3.92, p=.14, Cramer’s V= .133), (Table 8).
Below, in the Figure 1. the graphics of the responses of the participants to “While I gamble on the game results of any team, I take the statistics and betting proportions into consideration. I also behave in the same manner while I make my decision on the bets of my supported team’s derby/national league/European league games in which high possibility of defeat exists and put my bet on the favor of opponent team” is given.
The main purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between team identification and team preferences of football gamblers while betting on their supported teams’ games. Our findings suggested that betting preference of the subjects was significantly related with their team identification level only in the case of derby games. Regardless of opponent and supported team’s performance, highly identified subjects preferred putting their bets on the favor of their supported team in derby games.
According to the descriptive statistics, the biggest proportion of the participants of this research was composed highly identified football gamblers who show strong and long-lasting loyalty towards their favorite team and the rest was consisted of moderate and low identified sport gamblers who think sport as an enjoying, stress releasing and socialization factor, and who keep on supporting his/her team as long as it succeeds and shows good performance, (26).
Findings, gathered by two-way contingency table analysis, indicated that there was no relationship between the team identification levels of participants and their team preferences while putting bets on the national and European league games of their supported team. This contradiction with the related literature (23, 24, and 32) may be explained via several reasonable causes. First of all, the level of identification with the team may not be the only factor that plays a remarkable role in the football gamblers’ betting preferences. For instance; the instinctional drives towards gambling such as economic benefit taking or the team’s performance compared to the opponent team may be of the various factors that might have influenced individual preferences.
On the other hand, in the derby games, difference was observed in the gambling choices of participants when compared with the national and European league games. Results pointed significant relationship between participants’ team identification levels and their betting preferences while putting bets on their supported team’s derby games (Table 3). While the low and medium level identified participants mostly preferred the opponent team in their teams’ derby games, the highly identified fans most frequently preferred putting bets on the favor of their favorite team.
While high level of identification with the team showed no effect in the betting choices of the gamblers in national and European league games, it showed an impact for derby games. This point leads us to think that there may be other reasons that need to be sought. Besides adherence and loyalty towards supported team, the feelings of hatred and enmity towards the opponent team might be a determining effect in this relationship. Already in Turkey, as to seek the scenes behind the violent acts, the argument above is justified that these violent affairs are resulted from by either pre or post games violence between the clubs having historic rivalry.
Except the derby games, the results of this research did not overlap with the findings of the studies which emphasized significant positive relationship between team identification and team loyalty behavior (11, 12, 32, 34). In the mentioned researches, the loyalty behaviors performed for supporting the team guaranteed obtaining a product either tangible (product/s such as team merchandises) or intangible (such as enjoyment, watching the game itself). But in the case of gambling, the sport or football gamblers, as sport consumers, pay for uncertainty. This uncertainty, as the nature of gambling, means financial risk-taking, which may suppress the loyalty towards the supported team.
CONCLUSION AND FURTHER RECOMMENDATIONS
To conclude, even team identification may not be the only determinant factor in betting preferences in national and European league games, it is possible to say that it is an influential element in the preferences of football bettors in the case of derby games. But variation in the results for the three different condition (national league, European league and derby games) may lead to further studies to identify if any other underlying factors existed which may give direction to the preferences of football bettors, such as gambling motivations, behavioral loyalty and attitudinal loyalty of subjects towards their supported team. Also, this study explores and displays the situation of limited number of participants, in the further studies the diameter of the sample maybe enlarged and the similar studies could be replicated in different cultures to access information rich data.
APPLICATIONS IN SPORT
The results of this study would be beneficial in identifying the betting behavior pattern of football gamblers who constitute a huge market in sport industry. Also, findings of this research could be informative for the market decision makers, bookmakers, and directive for the future researches on football gamblers as sports consumers.
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