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A summary by Callum Bromley of the main

points of: The Qualitative Report by Ian

Jones, Volume 3, December 1997.


Introduction into sports fandom with

Quantitative research methods in sports
Quantitative research advantages and
Qualitative research methods in sports
Qualitative research advantages and
Mixed methods approach

Although interest in the sports fan dates back to the beginning

of the century, there is little empirical research on the subject
(Jones, 1997, p. 1).

Sports fandom comprises of emotional and behavioral aspects

which are of a value to the individual. The intensity of fandom
can vary significantly (Pooley, 1978, p.14)

Sports fandom consists of cognitive, affective and behavioral

components which are of an equal importance when
investigations are undertaken.

Previous research investigations into the sports fan have

favoured more quantitative methodologies such as
Branscombe & Wann (1991, 1992).
Qualitative research on the sports fan is extremely rare.
However, such examples include Armstrong (1998).

Few investigations, if any, adopt a rigid mixed methods

approach of qualitative and quantitative research. Instead
opting for a single methodology perspective.

The report argues that a mixed method approach is

worthwhile in order to gain a fuller understanding of the typical
sports fan.

The nature of the sports fan investigated will have

implications upon the suitability of a methodology.

Sports fandom consists of more than overt behavior which

has important implications on the choice of research

Overt behavior is behavior that is done openly or intentionally.

In terms of sports fandom, verbal support for a particular
sports team.

Quantitative research can be defined as

assumptions of human behavior of a sports fan
according to social fact.

Quantitative research investigations look for

distinguishable characteristics in order to gain a
quantifiable measurement of sports fandom.

Quantitative research is mainly used to address

the behavioral components of a typical sports

Relatively easy to collect and collate sets of data.

Statistical analysis can be undertaken, giving the

investigation scientific credibility.

Anomalies can be distinguished within the data set

with relative ease.

Comparisons can be made between broad data


Longitudinal data can be collected between

consecutive sessions in order to enhance data
validity and reliability.

Jayaratne (1993) argues the strength of

quantitative research as it provides objective
data for objective analysis. An example of this
in relation to sports fandom is the comparison of
fans evaluation of team performance in relation
to attendance figures.
An example of quantitative research is the
SNCCFR (1996, 1997) research into behavioral
patterns of a typical English football fan at a
number of premier league football games.

Failure to assess the deeper underlying meanings

and explanations of sports fandom.

Only an assessment of the behavioral concept of

sports fandom, therefore does not address affective
and cognitive psychological issues.

Single data studies are only considered as a relative

snapshot of sports fandom. This means that it
doesnt take into account enduring variable factors
such as a teams performance or currant form.

It addresses people as a complete set of variables,

making no reference to specific individuals empathy
to sports fandom.

Qualitative research is an interpretative

approach from the informants point of view
(Jones, 1997, p.3).

Qualitative methodologies provide in depth

knowledge on sporting fandom from a
personal perspective, through research
techniques such as interviews and open

Provides an insight to the cognitive and

affective aspects of sports fandom.

Measurement of human behavior
from the outside.

Low sample numbers may mean
data is unrepresentative of

Provides an understanding of how Only subjective conclusions can

subjects view personal behavior.
be drawn
Allows greater in depth cognitive
and effective sports fandom

Maykut and Morehouse (1994)

suggest qualitative research may
invite hostility.

Concepts are introduced from a

personal perspective rather than
pre-determined by the researcher

Validity of the research is

questioned as it is difficult to
determine how true the findings
actually are.

Provides flexibility as a researcher Time consuming process of data

and a subject
collection and collation
Allows for longitudinal changes in
sports fandom

Single methodology approach has been advocated

by a number of authors but many supporting
arguments are pragmatic.
Both qualitative and quantitative single methodology
approaches have strengths and weaknesses.
The combination of methodologies, however can
strengthen research into sports fandom.
Jayaratne (1993, p.117) comments qualitative data
can support and explicate the meaning of
quantitative research.
This ensures that the final research product
maximises the strength of a mixed methods
approach. (Jones, 1997, p.5)

Sports fandom involves cognitive and affective

characteristics, as well as overt behavior. This
means a qualitative core is appropriate for the
investigation, supported by quantitative
Quantitative analysis can complement the
findings of qualitative research into sports
A mixed method approach to sports fandom may
enhance the quality of work produce and help
provide greater scope for new developments
within this particular .