A critical assessment of sport consumption at endurance events in South Africa
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Sport and sport events contribute a big percentage to the growth of sport tourism in South Africa. South Africa also hosts some of the most significant endurance events such as the Cape Argus, Cape Epic, Midmar Mile, Two Oceans Marathon and the Comrades Marathon. These endurance events have the potential to enhance endurance sport in South Africa and can also be used as a tool for tourism. It is important however, to determine the endurance sport consumption behaviour for participants and spectators who attend these events, since their behaviour and habits will influence their choices pertaining to travelling for sport events and even tourism. Sport tourism literature currently does not provide information and insight on this matter. Due to the lack of literature pertaining to endurance sport consumption behaviour, a description had to be provided to aid with the study. Endurance sport consumption behaviour (ESCB) in this study is therefore described as behaviour revealed by sport consumers who adapt their lifestyles after realising their desire to be self-complete, by testing and developing their bodies through sport activities. Sport consumption becomes the essence when participating in competitive, nature-related and fitness activities for both professional and amateur sport consumers. For spectatorship, these behaviours will differ, since the intentions of fans and supporters as well as the reasons for spectating differ, but sport events give them the opportunity to engage in sport on a different level, whether for the event or for the participant. These behavioural intentions can be influenced by the sport consumers’ attitude and subjective norms. ESCB is influenced by three main factors and includes: the demographic and behavioural profile; the motives and travel behaviour and the commitment towards the sport/event. The goal of the study was therefore to do a critical assessment of sport consumption at endurance sport events. In order to achieve this aim, secondary data of five endurance events (Cape Argus, Cape Epic, Midmar Mile, Two Oceans Marathon and the Comrades Marathon) were pooled. A total of 6453 questionnaires were distributed between the respective events for both participants and spectators attending these sport events and were included in the statistical analysis. From a first point of view, these sport consumers might seem homogenous, but when analysing the results, it became evident that sport participants and spectators (with regards to participation and support of endurance events) were not homogenous pertaining to their sport consumption behaviour at the respective endurance sport events. There are four main aspects that drive ESCB for endurance participants, namely the type of participant who pursues the sport; the age of the participant; the type of sport and the motives to participate. Four travel motives for these endurance sport participants were commitment, intrinsic achievement, escape and socialisation and the challenge these events provide. Endurance participants furthermore see sport events as an opportunity to travel. The spectators’ ESCB were driven by their socio-demographic and behavioural profile and the motives for supporting the respective endurance events. Endurance sport spectators were motivated by the social interaction and the sport novelty of the sport events. Their memorable experiences were influenced by the event’s personnel and provision, amenities, comfort and visibility, infrastructure and marketing. The study made literature contributions pertaining to the description of ESCB, which were lacking from sport tourism literature. Based on the results, recommendations were made, not only based on ESCB, but also on how these types of events can be used to enhance sport tourism in South Africa as well as the participation and support for these types of sport. Spectators’ views on endurance sport events were also lacking. The study indicated that these consumers were personally involved with the participants’ journey to success, compared to supporters who attended for the event in specific. In this study, sport consumer profiles are compared on a large scale, which have not yet been done in current sport literature, providing a holistic overview of endurance sport consumers. Sport consumer profiles are influenced by the sport context and the marketing of these events, but most importantly the ESCB. Practical contributions include the specialisation for endurance sport events, the growth for sport and tourism and insights to consumer behaviour for sport event organisers and marketers. This study is important, especially for sport marketers and organisations, in order to ensure the long term sustainability and competitiveness for the sport industry as well as for expanding sport tourism and tourism in South Africa.
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