chapter  9
38 Pages

Enjoyment From Sports Spectatorship

WithDolf Zillmann, Jennings Bryant, Barry S. Sapolsky

This chapter addresses the phenomenon of spectatorship in sports, not of active sports participation. Surprisingly, this phenomenon, in spite of its obtrusiveness in ancient and contemporary culture generally, and in the so-called mass media of communication in particular, has received comparatively little attention in modern psychology. Grand speculations are abundant, but systematic research into the factors that created and sustain this societal phenomenon in question is rare. There seem to be reasons for such negligence, and we will make efforts to disclose them. We look into what appears to be a stigmatization of the sports spectacle, and we discuss the many proclamations of ill effects of spectatorship. But we also look at proposals of beneficial consequences. Most of all, however, we concern ourselves with the enjoyment audiences apparently derive from watching sport contests, regardless of other effects such preoccupation may produce. We propose numerous factors that potentially contribute to the enjoyment of watching sport contests, and we present recent research findings pertinent to our proposals. It is hoped that our theoretical suggestions, together with the initial research evidence, will stimulate a new interest in the psychology of this ubiquitous phenomenon of sports spectatorship and maybe help to remove some of the stigma attached to studying it.