Online Leisure Communities: The Case of Tennis Spectators

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Dachgeschoss (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Nadina AYER, University of Waterloo, Canada
Ron MCCARVILLE, University of Waterloo, Canada
For decades, leisure providers have been interested in various aspects of community and leisure participation (e.g., citizenship development in Glover, 2002 and social capital in Shaw, Arai, & Pedlar, 2003). We are particularly interested in online communities; those virtual spaces where people come together to share experiences (Preece, 2001). These spaces are increasingly popular because they are readily available and easy to use (Chayko, 2008).  We seek to explore the nature, meanings and motives of tennis spectators as they engage in online communities. We intend to clarify how online communities might develop around tennis events, why spectators use them and how their involvement might influence their overall tennis experiences and actions (e.g., equipment or ticket purchases, gaming, playing). Interviews (e.g., online, in-person, instant messaging) with approximately 14 adult tennis spectators are being conducted. Readily available data (e.g., forum threads) will also be used to help understand online dynamics and commonly discussed topics. Guided by symbolic interactionism, study’s insights on the motives, nature of participation and its meaning can help understand how spectators relate to and engage in sport related communities. We suspect that spectators’ engagement extends far beyond simple spectating.  Indeed, our results may extend notions of spectating itself.  Results will also have implications for tournament providers (e.g., online presence strategy) and other spectators (e.g., available resources). Enhanced understanding of online communities (e.g., behaviour) can have implications on conceptualization and research design in future studies.