Murray State to Present "The ABCs of Sport Fandom: What We Know and Where We Should Go"

Feb 12, 2019

With thousands of athletic teams ranging from amateur locals to highly televised professionals across the United States, it's not surprising that supporting and watching these teams has become an integral part of day to day life. Murray State professor of Psychology, Dan Wann, will be presenting a colloquium over his research on the psychology of 'fandoms.' Wann visits Sounds Good to discuss the upcoming seminar. 

As part of the Dr. and Mrs. Gary Brummer Colloquium Series in Psychology, Dan Wann, Ph.D., will present "The ABCs of Sport Fandom: What We Know and Where We Should Go" in Wrather Auditorium. The presentation will examine some of the affective, behavioral, and cognitive reactions of fans and discuss the important place fandom has in the lives of these individuals. Additionally, Wann will investigate some issues that will likely lead to changes in fandom.

Dan Wann is a life-long sports fan and professor of psychology at MSU. Wann received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, where he began his research on sport psychology, particularly in regards to fans or spectators, social behaviors, and aggression. When Wann first began in 1987, there was little to no research in the field. "I can remember we had to develop a scale to measure how identified, or how psychologically connected, fans are to their teams," Wann explains. "And I can remember thinking, 'not only is there not a scale to improve upon, there's not anyone writing about this to give us ideas for what the scale should be in the first place." The scale that Wann and his research advisor produced has since been cited and used on Google Scholar over one thousand times. 

One aspect of the 'fandom' phenomenon that will be discussed in the colloquium is the opportunity to fulfill basic psychological needs, such as the need for a sense of belonging in society, through following a sports team. "It allows us to feel a sense of connection to those around us," Wann says. "If you're in Murray, Kentucky and you're a Racer basketball fan, particularly at this time of year, it's hard to feel lonely. You're walking through Walmart and you see these people who are wearing the same type of jackets and hats and shirts that you're wearing, and the whole section of Racer stuff is there. It's hard to feel alienated in this society, in this town, in this part of Kentucky, if you're a Racer fan." On a different side of the same coin, Wann will also discuss how being a sports fan of a non-local or less locally supported team provides a sense of distinctiveness that can make people feel unique. 

By the end of the seminar, participants can expect to:

1. understand the place of sport fandom in the lives of fans and society as a whole, and why it's important to study these individuals;

2. learn how following sports impacts the affective, behavioral, and cognitive reactions of fans;

3. discover changes on the horizon that may impact the fan experience as well as topics needing greater attention from social scientists. 

"There's a lot more to it than the lay public probably thinks," explains Wann. "Sports fans are not just simply sitting around and watching a game, sort of mindlessly being entertained. It's not like they're watching their favorite sitcom or reality TV show. Being a sports fan is much more than that. It really impacts the human experience a lot more than I think a lot of people understand." 

Wann will present his seminar on the psychology of sports fandom on Tuesday, February 12th at 7 p.m. in Wrather Auditorium on MSU's campus. For more information on the colloquium or the Dr. And Mrs. Gary Brummer Series, visit the Murray State website.