Fan engagement, meaning and life satisfaction among South African football fans: the role of social interactive motive
The exponential growth of the global sport industry has led to extensive research concerning the role of sport fan engagement regarding the commercial development. Sport fan engagement drives commercial development, due to the fact that services and products relating to fans and favourite sport teams lead to business growth. The forecast for growth is made and can contribute to employment, development of the leisure and entertainment sector, as well as merchandise expansion. It was found that 54% of the South African population follows football as a sport, contributing to levels of engrossment that drive the psychological connection. Despite the significant research into the psychological underpinnings of sport consumerism and the association that the emotive engrossment of sport fans has proven with the commercial prosperity of the industry globally, no work has evaluated how the intensity of the fan engagement experience translates into favourable personal outcomes. Understanding the engendering outcomes associated with fan engagement can assist in directing practical strategies that support the well-being of sport consumers. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of sport fan engagement on the personal, well-being related outcomes of meaning and life satisfaction amongst a sample of South African football fans. A secondary aim was to examine this relationship through introduction of social interaction motive. A cross-sectional, exploratory design was implemented amongst 565 football fans attending matches at a stadium in the Gauteng province. The Fan Engagement Scale, Meaning in Life Questionnaire, Satisfaction with Life Scale and Motivation Scale for Sport Consumption, together with a biographical questionnaire were utilised as measuring instruments. Structural equation modelling analysis was conducted, specifying regression paths between variables. The results of the study suggested a direct effect of sport fan engagement on meaning and life satisfaction. The results revealed a positive predictive relationship between sport fan engagement and life satisfaction. This was further supported by correlations of high practical significance between all three of the dimensions of fan engagement and satisfaction with life. Results further revealed the existence of indirect paths to meaning and life satisfaction through social interaction motive. A number of recommendations were made to further enhance the study. The sport fan engagement experience can be explored relating to personal outcomes, apart from meaning and life satisfaction only. The study can be extended towards other popular sporting codes in South Africa to support the results from the study and enhance the commercial development of the sport industry. Future studies can also focus on the specific elements of sport fan engagement to comprehend which dimensions predict the greatest levels of meaning and life satisfaction. Recommendations for future research included undertaking longitudinal research designs to evaluate the impact of fan engagement over time.