Examining the Impact of Fantasy Sport Participation and Fan Identification on Player Performance and Brand Image Perceptions
Along with the growth of fantasy sport has come a slew of research on how participation in the activity affects traditional fan behavior. The current study extends this line of literature by investigating how participation in fantasy sport impacts fans’ perceptions of players. Specifically, through an application of cognitive miser theory, we argue that fantasy sport participants, as well as highly identified fans, are susceptible to a fantasy judgment bias, wherein players are assessed more from the perspective of their fantasy sport performance than actual on-field performance. Using MANCOVA on fan survey responses concerning two recent NFL players, we show that this bias exists and that it impacts the brand associations fans make with regard to athletes as well as their purchase intentions toward these athletes. Finally, SEM was used to investigate which fantasy sport participation motives are most salient to the existence of the phenomenon.