Spirituality and Basketball Fanship: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and Synthesis

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Balcaite, Elena ; Edwards, Stephen D. ; Buscombe, Richard (2015)
  • Publisher: Common Ground

The world of competitive sport affords an individual the opportunity to enter a spiritual community\ud adding meaning that transcends one’s current understanding of life (Parry et al. 2007). Previously\ud established dimensions of sports fanship (group affiliation, psychological commitment and team\ud identification) share characteristics commonly associated with religious or spiritual affiliation\ud indicating that fans may generate substantial life meaning from observing sporting encounters. In the\ud present study, 12 male basketball fans (M=32.42; SD=7.97) completed semi-structured interviews\ud immediately prior to viewing a competitive match at the 2011 European Basketball Championships\ud (Vilnius, Lithuania). Interviews were structured under four headings; 1) the most memorable moment\ud as a basketball fan, 2) thoughts, feelings and emotions attached to their team, 3) affiliation to the team\ud in the context of the fan’s meaning of life, 4) connection with members of the fan’s sporting community.\ud Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was employed to analyse interview transcripts. Raw data\ud clustered into four dimensions; 1) devotion, 2) obscure emotions, 3) connectedness, and 4) universal\ud values. The results indicate that sports fanship is characterised by, and synonymous with, an established\ud understanding of spirituality derived from membership of wider spiritual and/or religious communities.\ud The findings hold implications for the marketing and membership of local, amateur and professional\ud sports clubs and brands, as well as community development, health and welfare.
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