Online Discussion Forum Influence on Professional Sport Fan Support: an Exploratory Study
With professional sports continually attracting new supporters and these supporters increasingly using Internet technologies, questions arise about the relationship between sport fan online activities and actual fan support for a professional sport team. This paper explores the behaviours and perceptions exhibited by Yellow Fever (online fan site) members as they interact within their online discussion forum. It also studies how these interactions may influence support for the A-League franchise, the Wellington Phoenix football club. To explore and describe member interactions and opinions, the paper uses a qualitative research approach and data collected from both the forum archives as well as an online questionnaire. The research appears to show that Yellow Fever members do affect fan support for the Wellington Phoenix. It also suggests several ways in which the members can influence fan support. Despite some limitations, there are implications for sporting clubs and technology research. The study also provides a basis for further research both with sport support groups as well as other types of membership dependent organisations such as community projects, local schools and political organisations.