Fans / Marketing / Teams


College football

Author Yacine Enriquez-Meyer, University of San Francisco

Posted: October 4, 2016

Tagged: fan motives

History, tradition, social identity, dedication, and team morale. These ideas show how sport marketers plan and strategically think of ways to motivate fans to attend sporting events. Sport marketers must have the mindset to find out what’s next, or think ahead in order to create and bring social elements and memorable highlights to their fans. The “lean in” entertainment for sports is described as fans are physically leaning into the excitement of the game because they are invested in what’s happening. Fans want to be a part of the team and the lean in effect portrays fans not knowing the outcomes of games. The less certainty is what makes sports so powerful.

So how do sport marketers get, keep, and grow their fans? Different motives and influencing factors need to take place and one example that influences fan event attendance is the environmental factors which is an example of “free time available, easy access, and appropriate infrastructure” (Pons, Giroux & Mourali, 2014, p. 24). The University of Washington football stadium is located next to Lake Washington and is one of the best facilities within the Pac- 12 conference. Since the stadium is located on a lake, the fans do not tailgate, but instead sailgate (Smith, 2016, p. 26). The Washington Huskies allow fans to anchor their boats in the marina that is located near the stadium and gives them access to boat passes and easy access to shuttles available so fans can avoid the hectic traffic to and from the game. This type of external influence really encourages their fans to step out for a night, hassle free, and enjoy the luxury accommodations to charter their boat to the game.

Motivation aspires fans to have pleasure in what they are celebrating as well as the desire to be a part of unforgettable moments. These moments lead to internal or emotional factors that take place as team identification and motivation in a fans experience (Pons et al., 2014). Today many football schools take into account the importance of their fans being emotionally invested in their teams and what it takes to influence and motivate them to come back to games. Mississippi State football thrives on history and tradition and their program really takes into account how much their fans make an impact for the team. Scott Stricklin, the athletic director at Mississippi State stated that as a sport marketer you have to take into account and find a way for the fans to take ownership of their team and the program and really want the fans to be a part of the home teams experience (Smith, 2016, p. 24).

Mississippi State involves their fans by creating game-day moments so fans can interact with each other and “reflects a social-psychological position in relation to a group or sporting team” (Funk & Lock, 2014, p.45). With this interaction comes sport identification that portrays individuals with a sense of belonging to a specific group or shows tendency: commitment to a sporting team i.e., the loyal, committed, or die-hard fan. When a sport marketer knows the tendencies of fans, it becomes a self-awareness approach in how to attract the consumer based on their tendencies and behaviors. Fans were almost ruled out for using their cowbells because SEC rules stated they were considered artificial noisemakers. In 2010 the SEC ruled in favor to allow the fans to ring the bells only after the play was over. This created a built-in fan experience, as well as elevated personal attitudes to create a social identity for the university. “When the other team’s center puts his hand on the ball, the cowbells stop and it doesn’t get quieter, but the sound changes. The bells stop and it becomes this roar of voices yelling” (Smith, 2016, p. 24).

Sport marketers must look at the focal point within their consumers- Fans are human beings first! It is their job to customize the wearing of multiple hats by fans and appeal what’s relevant to each individual fan. Trying to find that one real fan based on their relations and social levels of identities can categorize fans and begin to mold them into a customer lifetime value entity.



Funk, D. C., & Lock, D. (2014). Sport consumer attitudes: Sport Identity: Form, Function, and Effect. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp.45-47). New York, NY: Routledge.

Pons, F., Giroux, M., & Mourali, M. (2014). Consumer Behavior and Motivation: Why are sport event consumers so special? In M. P. Pritchard & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 24-36). New York, NY: Routledge.

Smith, M. (2016, August 22). Hidden gems of college football: Washington aims to wow on the waterfront. SportsBusiness Journal, 5(65). Retrieved from

Smith, M. (2016, August 22). Hidden gems of college football: A clanging good time at Mississippi State. SportsBusiness Journal, 19(21). Retrieved from

About Yacine Enriquez-Meyer, University of San Francisco

Yacine graduated from Radford University with a Bachelor of Science in Media Studies and a minor in Sports Administration while on a volleyball scholarship for the Highlanders. She is currently in the Sport Management Graduate program at the University of San Francisco. At Radford, she worked as an intern for the athletic marketing department managing media relations and promotions. She is currently the graduate assistant for the University of San Francisco women’s volleyball team and an intern for the University of California, Berkeley Athletics as a game day representative for men’s football. Yacine plans to work within event management but her ultimate career goal is to become an athletic director at a local high school back home in Maui, Hawaii. This is an edited version of a paper prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage by Amy Meredith, "College Football Hall of Fame", Accessed via Creative Commons license.