Attracting Spectators to Youth Sport Events: The Case of the International Children’s Games

  • Ryan Snelgrove University of Waterloo
  • Laura Wood University of Waterloo
  • Marijke Taks University of Ottawa
  • Luke Potwarka University of Waterloo
  • Daniel Wigfield, Dr. University of Waterloo
Keywords: perceived value, uniqueness, youth sport


The purpose of this study was to determine whether perceptions of value of a youth sport event were predicted by a spectator’s sport identity, their connection to an athlete, and how their assessment of the event’s uniqueness affects these relationships. Data were collected from spectators (N=714) at the 2013 International Children’s Games using a questionnaire. Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Results provided support for an indirect only mediated model, such that spectators who highly identified with being a sports fan perceived the event as being valuable when they also viewed the event as unique. Having a personal connection to an athlete did not predict perceptions of uniqueness or value. Thus, purposefully selecting and designing unique events and promoting the unique attributes of the event could increase an event’s appeal to spectators who highly identify with the sport.

Author Biographies

Ryan Snelgrove, University of Waterloo

Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies

Assistant Professor

Laura Wood, University of Waterloo

Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies

Assistant Professor

Marijke Taks, University of Ottawa

School of Human Kinetics


Luke Potwarka, University of Waterloo

Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies

Associate Professor


Berridge, G. (2012). Event experience: A case study of difference between the way in which organizers plan an event experience and the way in which guests receive the experience. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 30(3), 7-23.

Berry, L. L., Shankar, V., Parish, J. T., Cadwallader, S., & Dotzel, T. (2006). Through service innovation: Creating new markets. Sloan Management Review, 47(2), 56–63.

Brady, M. K., & Cronin, J. J. (2001). Some new thoughts on conceptualizing perceived service quality: A hierarchical approach. Journal of Marketing, 65(3), 34–49.

Chalip, L. (2006), “Towards social leverage of sport events”, Journal of Sport & Tourism, Vol. 11, pp. 109–127.

Chalip, L., and McGuirty, J. (2004), “Bundling sport events with the host destination”, Journal of Sport & Tourism, Vol. 9, pp. 267-282.

City of Windsor. (2011, June 13). Council Minutes. Retrieved from,%202011w%20amended.pdf

Fornell, C. & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research 18(1), 39-50.

Funk, D. C., Filo, K., Beaton, A. A., & Pritchard, M. (2009). Measuring the motives of sport event attendance: Bridging the academic-practitioner divide to understanding behavior. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 18, 126-138.

Green, B. C. (2001). Leveraging subculture and identity to promote sport events. Sport Management Review, 4, 1–20.

Green, B. C., & Chalip, L. (1998). Sport tourism as the celebration of subculture. Annals of Tourism Research, 25, 275–291.

Hair, J.F., Black, W., Babin, B., & Anderson, R. (2010). Multivariate data analysis: A global perspective. Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Hassay, D. N., & Peloza, J. (2009). Building the charity brand community. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 21, 24–55.

Henard, D. H., & Dacin, P. A. (2010). Reputation for product innovation: Its impact on consumers. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 27(3), 321-335.

James, J. D., & Ross, S. D. (2004). Comparing sport consumer motivations across multiple sports. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 13, 17-25.

Kaplanidou, K., & Gibson, H. (2012a). Event image and traveling parents’ intentions to attend youth sport events: a test of the reasoned action model. European Sport Management Quarterly, 12, 3-18.

Kaplanidou, K., & Gibson, H. (2012b). Differences between first time and repeat spectator tourists of a youth soccer event: intentions and image approaches. Current Issues in Tourism Letters, 15, 477-487.

Kelley, S. W., & Turley, L. W. (2001). Consumer perceptions of service quality attributes at sporting events. Journal of Business Research, 54, 161-166.

Kim, Y. K., & Trail, G. (2010). Constraints and motivators: A new model to explain sport consumer behavior. Journal of Sport Management, 24, 190-210.

Kim, Y, K., Trail, G. T., & Magnusen, M. J. (2013). Transition from motivation to behaviour: Examining the moderating role of identification (ID) on the relationship between motives and attendance. International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, 1, 190-211.

Ko, Y. J., Zhang, J. J., Cattani, K., & Pastore, D. L. (2011). Assessment of event quality of major spectator sports. Managing Service Quality, 21, 304-322.

Kruger, M., & Saayman, M. (2012). Creating a memorable spectator experience at the Two Oceans marathon. Journal of Sport & Tourism, 17, 63-77.

Kwak, D. H., & Kang, J. H. (2009). Symbolic purchase in sport: the roles of self-image congruence and perceived quality. Management Decision, 47, 85-99.

Kwon, H. H., Trail, G., & James, J. D. (2007). The mediating role of perceived value: Team identification and purchase intention of team-licensed apparel. Journal of Sport Management, 21, 540-554.

Lee, J., Lee, J., & Feick, L. (2001). The impact of switching costs on the customer satisfaction-loyalty link: Mobile phone service in France. Journal of Services Marketing, 15, 35-48.

Mahony, D. F., Nakazawa, M., Funk, D. C., James, J. D., & Gladden, J. M. (2002). Motivational factors influencing the behaviour of J. League Spectators. Sport Management Review, 5, 1-24.

McAlexander, J. H., Schouten, J. W., & Koenig, H. F. (2002). Building brand community. Journal of Marketing, 66(1), 38–54.

Mullin, B. J., Hardy, S., & Sutton, W. A. (2014). Sport marketing (4th Edition). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Muniz, A. M., & O’Guinn, T. C. (2001). Brand community. Journal of Consumer Research, 27, 412–432.

Nordvall, A., Pettersson, R., Svensson, B., & Brown, S. (2014). Designing events for social interaction. Event Management, 18, 127-140.

Oliver, R. L. (1999). Whence consumer loyalty? Journal of Marketing, 63, 33-44.

Pearson, C. (2013, August 16). What a splash: Windsor’s golden moment. Windsor Star. Retrieved from

Pritchard, M. P., Funk, D. C., & Alexandris, K. (2009). Barriers to repeat patronage: The impact of spectator constraints. European Journal of Marketing, 43, 169-187.

Pullman, M. E., & Gross, M. A. (2004). Ability of experience design elements to elicit emotions and loyalty behaviors. Decision Sciences, 35, 551-578.

Rui, B., Correia, A., Santos, T., Ross, S., & Yoshida, M. (2017). Service quality and value perceptions of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Event Management, 21, 201-216.

Shipway, R., & Jones, I. (2007). Running away for home: Understanding visitor experiences and behaviour at sport tourism events. International Journal of Tourism Research, 9, 373-383.

Shonk, D. J., & Chelladurai, P. (2008). Service quality, satisfaction, and intent to return in event sport tourism. Journal of Sport Management, 22, 587-602.

Snelgrove, R., Taks, M., Chalip, L., & Green, B. C. (2008). How visitors and locals at a sport event differ in motives and identity. Journal of Sport & Tourism, 13, 165 – 180.

Snelgrove, R., & Wood, L. (2010). Attracting and leveraging visitors at a charity cycling event. Journal of Sport & Tourism, 15, 269-285.

Sweeney, J. C., & Soutar, G. N. (2001). Consumer perceived value: The development of a multiple item scale. Journal of Retailing, 77, 203-220.

Trail, G. T., Fink, J. S., & Anderson, D. F. (2013). Sport spectator consumption behavior. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 12, 8-17.

Trail, G. T., & James, J. D. (2001). The motivation scale for sport consumption: Assessment of the scale’s psychometric properties. Journal of Sport Behavior, 24, 108-127.

Trail, G. T., Robinson, M. J., Dick, R. J., & Gillentine, A. J. (2003). Motives and points of attachment: Fans versus spectators in intercollegiate athletics. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 12, 217-227.

Wakefield, K. L., & Blodgett, J. G. (1996). The effect of the servicescape on customers’ behavioral intentions in leisure service settings. Journal of Services Marketing, 10, 45-61.

Wann, D. L. (1995). Preliminary validation of the sport fan motivation scale. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 19, 377-396.

Wiersma, L. D., & Fifer, A. M. (2008). ‘The schedule has been tough but we think it’s worth it’: The joys, challenges, and recommendations of youth sport parents. Journal of Leisure Research, 40, 505-530.

Windsor Star (2013), “Star editorial: in the wake of the Games”, August 20, available at: games/ (accessed 12 September 2013).

Wood, L., Snelgrove, R., & Danylchuk, K. (2010). Segmenting volunteer fundraisers at a charity sport event. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 22(1), 38-54.

Yoshida, M., & James, J. D. (2010). Customer satisfaction with game and service experiences: Antecedents and consequences. Journal of Sport Management, 24, 338-361.

Yoshida, M., & James, J. D. (2011). Service quality at sporting events: Is aesthetic quality a missing dimension? Sport Management Review, 14, 13-24.

Yoshida, M., James, J. D., & Cronin, J. J. (2013). Sport event innovativeness: Conceptualization, measurement, and its impact on consumer behavior. Sport Management Review, 16, 68-84.

Zeithamal, V. A. (1988). Consumer perceptions of price, quality, and value: A means-end model and synthesis of evidence. Journal of Marketing, 52(3), 2-22.

Zhao, X., Lynch, J. G., & Chen, Q. (2010). Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and truths about mediation analysis. Journal of Consumer Research, 37, 197-206.