Call for Papers | “Rivalry in Sport: Marketing Implications” |Special Issue of Sport Marketing Quarterly

Guest Editors:


Rivalry has the ability to add excitement to sporting events for fans, whether because they enjoy watching their favorite team defeat a rival and use sport outcomes to favorably compare to friends and colleagues or because of the increased adrenaline they may feel by watching two rival teams in head-to-head competition. In modern sport culture, rivalry is a popular topic of discussion, and reporters, analysts, and fan bases often debate over the best rivalries in respective sports. For example, a recent article from Athlon Sports and Lifelisted the top 25 rivalries in United States college football (Gall, 2014), while an article from Sports Illustrated ranked the best college football rivalries in each decade since the 1970s (Rothschild, 2015).  Rivalry allows individuals to choose sides and vicariously experience the excitement of being positively compared to a rival group (Bandura, 1977). For example, fans often use conference, league, or national identification to assert they are better than a competing out-group (Tajfel, 1978). Further, rivalries in sport have been linked to tensions between fan bases around the world.

For sport marketers, rivalry can play an important role in their promotions to fans. Rival organizations commonly use the rival team to promote their favorite team’s product, through the creative names assigned to rivalries, season-long, and in some cases program-wide rivalry contests, and the merchandise sold surrounding rivalry competitions. Individual sporting events such as tennis, boxing, and mixed martial arts use rivalry heavily to promote upcoming events. For example the rivalry between American tennis players Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi attracted viewers to the sport in the 1990s and early 2000s. Likewise, the rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova was a major draw for women’s professional tennis during the 1970s and 1980s.

Recently, the study of sport rivalry and its impact on fan behavior has started to receive more attention in sport management, marketing, and psychology literatures. For example, research in sport management has focused on fan reactions to rivalry (Havard, 2014; Havard, Gray, Gould, Sharp, & Schaffer, 2013), characteristics and antecedents of rivalry (Kilduff, Elfenbein, & Staw, 2010; Tyler & Cobbs, 2015), and the impact of the phenomenon on fan viewership (Mahony & Moorman, 1999). The marketing literature has addressed the impact rivalry can have on sponsored products (Bee and Dalakas, 2013; Dalakas & Levin, 2005; Grohs, Reisinger, & Woisetschläger, 2015), and research in psychology has investigated how fans react to a rival team’s loss (Cikara, Botvinick, & Fiske, 2011; Leach & Spears, 2009), anonymous aggression toward rival players and fans (Wann & Wadill, 2013), and fan behavior of favorite and rival teams (Wann & Grieve, 2005). With most of the existing research focusing on rivalry in college or professional athletics within the United States (Havard, Reams, & Gray, 2013; Havard, Wann, & Ryan, 2013; Dalakas & Levin, 2005; Dalakas & Melancon, 2012; Tyler & Cobbs, 2015), an expanded view of the phenomenon is warranted. Further, most research into the phenomenon addresses fans of team sports, omitting the ardent supporter of participants in individual sports.

This special issue of Sport Marketing Quarterly seeks to focus on furthering the understanding of the sport rivalry phenomenon, with a specific aim of providing implications to marketing practitioners. Manuscripts that add to the existing knowledge on sport rivalry are welcome for this special issue, while educating practitioners on the impact of rivalry on fans, and how rivalry can influence promotion of the sport or other products. While a wide variety of manuscripts will be reviewed, potential areas include:

  • Rivalry in different sport settings (e.g., international, competition level, women’s sport, individual sport, etc.)
  • Using various methods and procedures to study rivalry (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, experimental, field studies, content analyses, etc.)
  • Different settings to research sport rivalry (e.g., online, in-arena, etc.)
  • Fan reactions to rival players and coaches
  • Fan reactions to rival team behavior
  • Consumption of the sport product surrounding rivalry in sport
  • Practitioner reactions to rivalry
  • Dark side of rivalry
  • Practical implications for responsible marketing and promotion of rivalry

Manuscripts should follow the standard author guidelines for Sport Marketing Quarterly and should be submitted through the online manuscript management platform Editorial Express(link is external). During the submission process, please select “Special Issue Paper” under “Category of Submission.”

Manuscripts should be submitted no later than November 30, 2016 to receive full consideration for publication in the special issue. Manuscripts must not be submitted to another journal while they are under review by Sport Marketing Quarterly, nor should they have been previously published. Anticipated publication of the accepted manuscripts is December 2017.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact either of the special issue editors.

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