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Research Proposal

Sho Takaki & Coen de Heus

In the United States, the first professional baseball team, Cincinnatis Red Stockings, encouraged other teams to pursue commercialism openly, eventually leading to the professionalisation of baseball and the formation of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in 1871 (NAPBBP). However, at that time even the best teams had difficulties making money because teams did not show up for scheduled games and were often cancelled. In an effort to solve these problems, William Hulbert, assisted by Harry Wright, founded the National League (NL), which led to the collapse of the NAPBBP in 1876. The NL developed the model for the modern professional sports league. In 1901, the American League (AL), formerly known as Western Association, was founded. The World Series (WS), a tournament between best teams in the NL and AL, was introduced in 1903. The first WS was held two years after the NL and AL both agreed to co-operate. The first WS was so popular that the Major League Baseball (MLB) could make over $100,000 from the eight World Series games held that year The Major League Baseball is probably the first successful modern professional sports league in the United States (Chacar, & Hesterly, 2004).

In Japan, baseball was introduced in the late 1870s by visiting Americans. The Japanese baseball league has the second longest history in the world, second only to the US Major leagues (Matsunaga, 2006). More specifically, the first recorded game in Japan was played in 1873. The games popularity grew particularly in schools and universities due to a series of tours of visiting American teams, especially after

World War One. In 1936 the game became professional with the formation of the Japanese Professional Baseball League. In 1950, with the inclusion of new teams, it split into two leagues: the Central League and the Pacific League. Each season the best team of each league played in the Japan Series, to decide the national champion, emulating a practice which had begun with the World Series of American baseball in 1903. While the Central League settled on six teams in 1954, the Pacific League adopted a six team structure in 1958. Since then, the structure of Japanese baseball has been stable (Dabscheck, 2006).

Although Major League Baseball (MLB) is considered to be the national past time in the United States, the league has been struggling with bringing in television audiences. Football started to reign supreme in the rating instead of baseball in the United States. For instance, while the 2009 World Series had a only 11.7/19 average household rating/share, the 2010 Super Bowl XLIV had a 46.4/68 average household rating/share (Chang Wan, Jung Kyu, Nichols, & Lu, 2010). However, MLB has been constantly growing as one of the worlds favorite pastimes in the global stage. MLB International had contracts with 50 television and radio partners in order to broadcast MLB games in 15 languages to 233 countries and territories all over the world. As the success of the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic illustrates, the future of baseball might rely on its popularity and growth in East Asia countries such as Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, and China. Especially, the Japanese baseball league, the Nippon Professional Baseball league, plays an important role in East Asia because the league already yielded revenues of more than $1 billion in 2007 and 20 million people in attendance. A variety of Japanese players, including Nomo Hideo, Suzuki Ichiro, and Hideki Matsui, became successful in the United States as well. They not only created MLB fans in Japan but also facilitate profitable television contracts for MLB with Japanese media outlets such as Japan Broadcasting Corporation (Chang Wan et al., 2010). It is thus interesting to investigate the relationship and differences between Japan and the USA when it comes to baseball, specifically from a marketing perspective.

Literature Review
The purpose of this study is to identify the differences in motives between Japanese and American sports consumers. The current study intends to be an extension of the research put forth by Won and Kitamura (2007). This study is a replication, using a different population, namely Japanese and North American baseball spectators. As baseball is becoming increasingly popular in East-Asia it is important for marketers to realize the differences between consumers in North America and Asia. This study will help us understand sports consumer motivations, which is essential to marketers trying to sell the product of baseball. For example MLB teams can learn how to increase their popularity in Japan, while Japanese player agents learn how to market their players successfully in the USA.

Spectator Motives The question of what drives people to watch or attend sports games is a fundamental question in the study of spectators (Won & Kitamura, 2007). Since the first Olympics in 776 BC, people have been enjoying watching sporting events. Watching sporting events has been a predominant form of leisure behavior in current society (Trail & James, 2001). Sports scientists, including sports psychologists, sport sociologists, and sport marketing professionals, have increased their interest in the psychological factors that motivate individuals to consume sport over past two decades. There are a number of motives underlying sports fans decisions to consume sport. For instance, Trail and James (2001) developed the Motivational Scale for Sport Consumption (MSSC) to accurately and reliably measure motivations of sport spectator consumption behavior. The MSSC was developed to further understand the impact of psychological motives (achievement, acquisition of knowledge, aesthetics, drama, escape, family, physical attraction, physical skill, and social interaction) on attendance at sporting events. Psychological factors are important to understand why people make a commitment, such as becoming loyal, to a specific sport or team.

It is known that sport fan motives are different by gender. For instance, while male fans have higher scores on eustress, economic, self-esteem, and aesthetic motivation, female fans have higher scores on family motivation. In addition, fans of different sports show varying motivational patterns. For example, fans of golf indicate the high levels of aesthetic motivation, while fans of football show the low low aesthetic motivation (Wann, Grieve, Zaplac, & Pease, 2008). Also, it is revealed that people from different ethic and racial groups indicate different fan motivational patterns (Bilyeu & Wann, 2002). Since sport fans have different profiles, and different sports have different fan profiles, there should be different marketing strategies for specific target markets and sports (Kwon & Trail, 2001).

Won and Kitamura (2007) were the first scholars who took into account the unique motive factors and motivational characteristics of Japanese spectators, although a variety of motivation theories had been created by scholars. Their spectator motivation scales were based on previous research, but they conducted two panel discussion in terms of language (wording of the items) in order to confirm the validity of the scales. They conducted a pre-test to find any items that had lost their clarity of meaning when translated from English into Japanese, using 70 university students majoring in Health and Sports Science. In addition, a second pre-test was conducted to confirm the internal consistency of scales. Through this process, they found that some scale could be loaded on another scale. As a result, they created a new spectator motivation scales consisting of 9 factors and 27 sub-items. It can be assessed that this spectator motivation scales are one of the most valid scales, considering that they took several steps to confirm the validity through the process of developing the scales.

Fan Loyalty Any business is by definition focused on maximizing value for its shareholders, as described previously professional baseball is no exception to this rule. Though in sports it might be more ambiguous who is the shareholder, for this research we assume that leagues are compromised of individual teams, and operate on the premises of these teams (Danielson, 2001; Zirin, 2010). If we thus accept that the core

shareholders of the MLB are the teams shareholders, then we should understand that their ultimate goal is improving individual team value (Quirk & Fort, 2997; Gladden & Milne, 2004). Teams can gain equity in multiple ways. But one of the strongest indicators of team equity is the fan base of a team (Humphreys & Mondello, 2008). This should not be mistaken with revenues or profit for a team. In fact, in a pure economic perspective teams are often extraordinarily overpriced when considering their profit and revenue levels (Quirk & Fort, 1997). While Japanese sports organizations under a different model a good case can be made that they are looking to increase brand equity. In Japan baseball teams are often a part of larger corporations. In order for teams to survive the economical cycles that corporations inevitably go through, the teams need to show incremental value to the corporations (Manzenreiter & Horne, 2005). We can thus accept the notion that marketers of sports teams in Japan and North America both should be concerned by growing team value, as this might be key to the survival of their sports organization.

When referring to fan base sports marketers and owners alike are interested in returning, or die hard fans. Thus the end result a marketer of any sport is looking for is fan loyalty (Bristow & Sebastian, 2001), but what exactly concerns fan loyalty? In non-sports marketing repeat purchase can be seen as brand loyalty (Bristow & Sebastian, 2001; Bauer, Stockburger-Sauer & Exler, 2008). The availability of a product is needed to repeat purchase. A major problem with that definition is that a loyal customer might not always have access to the product (Bristow & Sebastian, 2001). This problem only gets magnified in the sports environment. If a customer is at a location where the product is not available, out of convenience one might decide to buy another brand. In the sports environment the core product is only limited available to the customer by definition. A stadium has a maximum capacity, thus it is possible that one cannot access the product, even if one is loyal (Bristow & Sebastian, 2001). Another problem with looking at loyalty as a repeat purchase is that in sports the repeat purchase may be executed by one who is not loyal, but has no other choice due to geographic proximity (Bauer et al., 2008). Professional sports generate revenues through multiple avenues. Broadly revenue can be generated through direct effects and indirect effects of fan attendance. Direct effects can be reflected in gate revenues, and merchandise sales. Indirect effects

run much further and have many more levels. Indirect effects can be found in stadium revenues, stadium financing, corporate sponsorships, corporate suites, and media advertisement (Mason, 1999). So while brand loyalty starts with people repeatedly attending games, it does not end there (Gladden & Funk, 2004).

As more media options are available to fans these days, their loyalty is extended through various avenues. Stewart, Smith and Nicholson (2003) have analyzed the current state of knowledge on loyal fan behavior. The first analyses on professional sports fan loyalty in the 1970s were focused on traditional and modern fans (Clarke, 1978; Boyle & Hanes, 2000). The traditional fan being the loyal game attendant, while the modern fan only attended games occasionally, but tended to pay more per person (Stewart et al., 2003). Following studies tried to incorporate multiple layers of loyalty, ordered in a hierarchy. Wann and Branscombe (1993) constructed the Sport Spectator Identification Scale (SSIS) to differentiate spectators attending sports events into those with high, moderate, and low identifications. This hierarchical scale has two significant problems. First problem is that in the current state of media option, fans can use multiple ways of sports consumption, attendance is thus not the only mode of loyalty anymore. Second problem lies in the hierarchical approach to fan loyalty, different types of fans have different types of spending behaviors. Stewart et al. (2003) thus suggest a focus on clusters, and suggest that in sports marketing research fan loyalty should be measured in clusters specifically of interest to the researcher. To maximize revenues amongst all fans it is thus important to find the exact cluster a spectator belongs to.

This research will closely follow the outline presented by Won and Kitamura (2007). In four different baseball stadiums in the United States of America and in four different baseball stadiums in Japan. To minimize extraneous effects the stadiums will all come from different cities. Furthermore the cities used will be relatively similar sized, the four biggest cities in each country have similar sized populations, and thus from each of those communities the baseball team will be used. The teams will be the Yomiuri Giants, the Yokohama BayStars, the Orix Buffaloes, and the Chunichi Dragons for Japan, and the New York Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, and the Houston Astros. The US Baseball stadiums (Mean=47049, SD=7331) are slightly bigger than the Japanese stadiums (Mean=37805, SD=6136) (Appendix A). This may be an indicator of interest, and thus we will look at this in the data analysis section.

The survey will be executed by local students participating in the research. The students will be deployed at the facilities 2 hours before the game, and will finish surveying the spectators 10 minuted before the start of the game. This ensures that none of the spectators are rushing to get to their seats for the start of the game, and thus finish the questionnaire appropriately. The surveyors will use systematic sampling, for each section of the stadium they will walk the stairs and ask the spectators on the first seats on both sides of the aisle to answer the questionnaire. When the questionnaires are collected, the surveyors will move to the next staircase and repeat this process. The reason for this systematic sampling is twofold. First, surveyors could be nervous to randomly ask people from the crowd, which may lead to selection bias. Second, by moving on to the next section we expect to minimize learning amongst the crowd members, thus the opinions should be individual opinions, not what others might have done before them. The surveyors should ensure that all participants are older than 16.

This study will combine the scales used by Won and Kitamura (2007) and Stewart et al. (2003). As previously described the scale by Won and Kitamura (2007) stems from the MSSC, and has been translated from English into Japanese and Korean. Extensive steps were taken to ensure validity of the scale in Japanese, including linguistic focus groups and a pretest. Confirmatory factor analyses showed further validity of the scale, and thus we will use the scale as indicated by Won and Kitamura (2007). As the scale originally was English, we feel that no specific extra focus groups or pretests of this scale are needed to validate the English version of the scale. The spectator motivation scale will thus be used in its entirety.

Fan loyalty typology scales are still relatively minimal in the sports marketing field (Stewart et al., 2003). Stewart et al. (2003) suggested the factors along which loyalty should be measured, but these factors have not been tested in practice yet. To find validity these scales need to be tested empirically. An equally rigorous process as the Won and Kitamura (2007) is needed to ensure validity of the scales. The researchers will thus conduct a focus group with at least a linguistic expert, a sports marketing expert, and graduate students of a sports management program. The linguistics expert will be knowledgeable of both English and Japanese languages. The students will come from a Japanese University, but with the requirement that the majority of their graduate classes is taught in English, and thus an advanced understanding of English can be expected. The sports marketing expert should be considered an expert on fan loyalty, and should be very critical of the scales wording towards the relevant factors. Upon completion of this stage both a class of Japanese and a class of American students will be asked to complete this questionnaire in a pretest. After each stage the researchers will analyze and adjust the scales as needed.

The final questionnaire will consist of 9 factors (27 sub-items) for spectator motivations and 8 factors for fan loyalty. 5 control variables will be used at the end of the questionnaire, namely Age, Sex, Marital Status, and Spectating Companion, just as in Won and Kitamura (2007), and Income Level as suggested by Stewart et al. (2003). Won and Kitamura (2007) use attendance frequency as a control variable, however that variable is already part of the scale by Stewart et al. (2003) and would be redundant as a control variable. Spectator motives will be measured by a 7-point Likert Scale. For the Fan Loyalty Variable, the fans will be given three statements for each factor. The statement the participant is most comfortable with shall be marked on the questionnaire. This should give an indication of the type of Loyalty a fan has. The measurement of Fan Loyalty is somewhat exploratory, as this model was suggested by Stewart et al. (2003) but it has not been tested empirically yet. The results of our study will therefore be interesting to see how valid the theory put forth by Stewart et al. (2003) is.

Upon completion of all the questionnaires the researchers will gather the data and input these data into the statistical program SPSS. This input will then be controlled by the other researcher to ensure that all the data is entered reliably. If data is ambiguous then the researchers will discuss what to do with the data. Options here are to eliminate the entire case, or to disregard the case for this variable. When this discussion does not lead to an agreement between researchers, these cases will be presented to an independent expert.

Using SPSS a series of analyses will be performed. The first operation is to calculate simple averages and standard deviations, and to plot histograms. These steps are undertaken to find outliers in the data. If outliers are found, the researchers will take the necessary steps to deal with these cases. The control variables will be analyzed using Chi-squared tests. The Spectator Motivation Scales and the Fan Loyalty scales will be tested using an independent samples t-test. Both the t-test and the Chi-squared are used to indicate statistical significance in difference between spectators in Japan and the USA. Following these

the researchers will use meaningfulness measures to analyze whether the statistical significance found, if any significance is found, is a result of a large sample size or if the result is actually strong. Finally correlation analysis will be performed to find the relationship between Spectator Motivations and Fan Loyalty. The previously mentioned t-test will only indicate whether there is a difference between the countries on this variable. For marketing purposes it will also be interesting to see whether a certain group of spectator motivations is correlated with a certain group of fan loyalty behavior. These correlation analyses should give the researchers an insight into this motivation and behavior relationship. The analyses should be performed for the countries separately and for the entire sample. Upon completion of these analyses the researchers should be able to extend the framework by Won and Kitamura (2007) and analyze the differences and relations between spectator motivation and fan loyalty behavior in Japan and the USA.

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