Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-15-2022


According to self-determination theory, people are intrinsically and/or extrinsically motivated to self-regulate their behavior (Deci & Ryan, 2012). Sport fans watch games for intrinsic rewards such as having fun and supporting a team, which, from the identity fusion perspective (Swann Jr et al., 2009), derive from their visceral sense of oneness with a team. Although they can choose to watch games at home, many fans spend money attending expensive games (e.g., major sports) and publicly display their experience. A plethora of sport management literature has addressed the intrinsic motivation for attending games; however, less attention has been paid to the extrinsic motivation systematically. Drawing on Veblen’s concept of conspicuous consumption (1899/2007), this study attempted to explore the meanings of fans’ public display of their game attendance and how motivation for conspicuous consumption influences their intention to attend games.

Specifically, the study aimed to (a) know whether sport fans perceive attending major sports as conspicuous consumption and whether they practice conspicuous consumption when attending games, (b) explore the meanings (dimensions) of conspicuous consumption as extrinsic motivation for attending major sports games, and (c) test the moderating effect of conspicuous consumption on attending future games. In addition, in this exploratory study, demographic group differences in motivation for conspicuous consumption were also studied.

The study was contextualized in the NFL and consisted of a pre-test (N=80) and the main study (N=535) using the online survey method. The pre-test confirmed the conspicuousness of attending NFL games in the eyes of American football fans. In the main study, Marcoux et al.’s (1995, 1997) five-factor conspicuous consumption model (materialistic hedonism, communication of belonging, social status demonstration, interpersonal mediation, and ostentation) was adapted to extract the meanings of conspicuous spectator sport consumption. As a result, this study identified a two-factor model: Social Status Demonstration for Interpersonal Mediation and Materialistic Hedonism to explain the meanings of extrinsic motivation for attending NFL games (rather than watching mediated games). Further analysis revealed that Social Status Demonstration for Interpersonal Mediation and Materialistic Hedonism positively impact fans’ intentions to attend future games, primarily on fans with a lower level of identity fusion with the team. Social Status Demonstration for Interpersonal Mediation alone does not improve their motivation for future games, but Materialistic Hedonism does, possibly because fans’ intrinsic motivation must be the premise. Lastly, gender, age, income, education, and marital status affected participants’ perceptions of conspicuous consumption in NFL game attendance.


Sport consumption, spectator sport, status, conspicuous consumption, NFL

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lunhua Mao

Second Committee Member

John Barnes

Third Committee Member

Todd Seidler

Fourth Committee Member

Brian Gillespie