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We are in this together: sport brand involvement and fans’ well-being

Su, Yiran, Du, James, Biscaia, Rui and Inoue, Yuhei ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1983-6217 (2022) We are in this together: sport brand involvement and fans’ well-being. European Sport Management Quarterly, 22 (1). pp. 92-119. ISSN 1618-4742

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Abstract

Research Question The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a transformative perspective on the role of sport brands in promoting fans’ psychological well-being. Drawing upon attachment theory, the current research explores how individuals’ involvement with sport brands may contribute to their psychological well-being in the wake of COVID-19. Research Methods Data were collected from sport fans (n = 770) in mainland China through an online survey. Machine learning-based model selection algorithms were used to optimize the balance between the predictive power and parsimoniousness of the empirical model. Bayesian structural equation modeling was performed to examine the effects of sport brand involvement (SBI), crisis management performance, and perceived togetherness (PT) on fans’ sense of hope and emptiness. Results and Findings The results indicate that fans’ involvement with sport brands was positively associated with fans’ psychological well-being. SBI mitigated fans’ perceived emptiness. This relationship was partially mediated by PT but not by crisis management performance. Furthermore, sport brands’ crisis management performance and PT fully mediated the positive relationship between SBI and hope. Implications This research contributes to theorizing the transformative role of sport brands in enhancing fans’ psychological well-being. We offer an alternative view of sport branding literature by moving beyond fans’ contributions to business outcomes to explore how sport brands may benefit fans’ well-being. Findings highlight the importance of the transformative power of ‘we’ in unifying sport brands and fans amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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