Global issues and new ideas in sport management: exploring the role of culture in Ladies Professional Golf Association viewership

Euisoo Kim,Tyreal Y. Qian, Lauren M. Johnson and James J. Zhang

Introduction

Inquiries on live sports event attendance have long been a focal point of sport management scholarship. Although there has been extensive research on the dynamics that drive event attendance in team sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and soccer (Garcia &. Rodriguez, 2009; Johnson, Chou, Mastromar- tino, &. Zhang, 2019), recent research efforts have become increasingly directed toward sports broadcasts: fans nowadays are more willing to watch live coverage of sports events on television than attend the event due to rising costs (e.g., ticket, parking, food) and inconvenience (e.g., transportation, inclement weather, time commitment). Moreover, sports broadcasts offer not only a captive audience to advertisers, but they also allow major sports leagues to sell lucrative media packages to television networks (Noll, 2007; Paul & Weinbach, 2015; Zhang, Pitts, &. Kim, 2017). While much of the past research investigated outcome uncertainty and its impact on the changes in viewership, a few studies have found that athletes’ ethnicity and nationality influence TV viewership. For example, from the 1997 to 2001 season of the NFL, the viewership ratings were higher for games where at least one black quarterback was featured as their performance drew more African Americans to watch the games (Aldrich, Arcidiacono, & Vigdor, 2005). Likewise, Van Reeth (2013) studied TV viewership for the Tour de France and found that viewership ratings were significantly higher when the TV audience saw successful athletes from their home country.

Similar to those team sports, professional golf in the United States has also benefited tremendously from TV broadcasts. Many tournaments are hosted in different locations around the world, and broadcasts allow fans to follow the events in an affordable and convenient manner. As a result, broadcast rights have become an essential source of revenue for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), accounting for more than 10% ($14.6 million) of its total revenue generated in 2013, followed by $5.8 million from sponsorship deals (Saf- fer, 2016). However, the LPGA’s broadcast rights revenue is still much less than that of other women’s professional sports. For example, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) reported $25 million for media rights in the 2016-2017 season, and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) recently signed a ten-year, $525 million media deal averaging approximately $50 million annually from 2017 to 2026 (Sandomir, 2014). Because the LPGA’s current media contract will expire at the end of 2019, having higher viewership will undoubtedly increase the organization’s ability to procure a more competitive broadcast deal. Further, and perhaps more importantly, a continued partnership with major TV networks would sustain the sport’s level of exposure and might help promote it to a broader audience.

Despite the need for striking a better TV broadcast deal, it is crucial to first consider the nature of golf broadcast. Contrary to most professional “arena sports” broadcasts, where the focus of the camera is to capture the movement of a ball and players from both teams involved in the field or on the court, the camera during golf tournaments primarily follows golfers on the top of the leaderboard, particularly after the cut-off or the final two rounds. Notably the fluctuation of American LPGA tournament winners between 2013 and 2015 corresponded with its ratings (Statista, 2016). For instance, ratings for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, one of the five major tournaments, had a record-low rating of 0.6, which was down 40% of the previous year (Briggs, 2017). It is highly likely that the lower television rating might be related to the fact that none of the U.S. golfers finished within the top 10. Arguably, the declining trends partly contribute to U.S. consumers’ unfilled desire to watch domestic players. In other words, because international golfers are performing better, they receive more camera time than domestic (United States) golfers who are not on the top of the leaderboard.

Admittedly, it is challenging for the LPGA to attract more viewers under the current tour environments because recent LPGA tournaments have been dominated by international golfers - Asian golfers in particular - and it is unlikely that the leaderboard will be filled with U.S. golfers anytime soon. Therefore, the LPGA should explore alternative initiatives or campaigns to boost TV viewer- ship. Prior experience has shown that lifting the open policy or simply limiting the number of international golfers only did a disservice to the development of the sport. In response to these challenges, this chapter proposes using cultural elements to influence people’s decision to watch LPGA tours. Previous research has found that culture exerts significant influence on many aspects of human attitudes and behaviors, and cross-cultural experiences often facilitate the formulation of favorable attitudes toward a different culture. Based on the theory of reasoned action (TRA), this chapter aims to develop a conceptual framework that can be utilized to identify and evaluate the cultural factors that influence the viewership of LPGA tournaments. More specifically, we propose that an individual’s belief in multiculturalism, cultural familiarity, and perception toward the LPGA would positively influence fans’ attitudes toward LPGA. Along with social norms, fans’ attitudes are expected to influence their behavioral intention and subsequent actual behavior to watch ethnically and culturally diverse LPGA tournaments.

Under the wave of globalization, the world has become economically, socially, and culturally interconnected than ever before over the last few decades, and the sports industry is no exception (Zhang, Kim, Marstromartino, Qian, & Nauright, 2018). One salient example of this trend is the cross-border movement of sport labor; the inflow of talented athletes from outside of the United States has not only boosted the overall quality of professional domestic sports teams and leagues hut has also brought additional financial gains. This is because athletes from outside the United States continue to appeal to international fans and media even when playing in U.S. leagues (Thibault, 2009; Zhang, Pearson, Qian, & Kim, 2020). Likewise, the LPGA has also seen a significant increase in ethnic diversity starting in the late 1990s. American golfers dominated the first 70 years of LPGA Tour in part because it was not open to international golfers until 1968; since then, the number of non-US golfers has increased steadily. Additionally, whereas many professional leagues limit the number of competing foreign players, the LPGA does not have such quotas.

In the 1990s, the LPGA’s marketing strategy shifted to promote the globalization of its tours. For example, regardless of nationality, golfers in the top 20 who are identified through the qualifying school are granted tour tickets to the LPGA. As such, the organization embraced the increased number of international golfers and positioned itself as the most globalized sport (Lim, 2009). With this new approach, an increasing number of Asian golfers have appeared on the leaderboard and won several tournaments. Today, it would be difficult to find a leaderboard not filled with international golfers. For instance, of the 34 LPGA tournaments held in 2017, 20 were won by players from countries in Asia, such as South Korea, China, Japan, and Thailand, while only seven were won by U.S. golfers (LPGA, 2017b). In stark contrast, only one of the 37 LPGA tournaments held in 1995 was won by an Asian golfer. Similarly, whereas only one Asian golfer ranked in the top 30 by prize money in 1995, the number increased to 17 by the end of 2017 season (LPGA, 2017a). The spike in international LPGA players over the last two decades has been rarely observed in any other professional sport and has transformed the sport profoundly.

Interestingly, despite the increased competitiveness and popularity of the LPGA tours on a global scale, the LPGA and U.S. golfers perceive the new generation of ethnically diverse golfers as a threat to the continued success of the LPGA tours in the United States. For example, Stacy Lewis, one of the top rankers in the LGPA stated in an interview;

The next five to 10 years of the LPGA, we need Americans. Right now, we don’t have a ton of young Americans coming up. I don’t know what that is, if it’s a cycle we’re going through . . . but for the growth of this tour and the importance of this tour, we need American players. Especially if we want to keep it an American-based tour.

(Briggs, 2017)

Also, from a sponsorship perspective, the entry fee of Pro-Am tournaments from individual and corporate sponsorships is a substantial source of revenue for LPGA tournaments (Choi, 2010). However, due to language barriers, many international golfers barely talk during Pro-Am tournament, making them less interactive and posing a key challenge for the organization, especially when the event is one of the most important campaigns for tour promotions. Unfortunately, in a poor effort to address the concerns, the LPGA announced an “English-only” policy in fall 2008, which required international players to demonstrate the ability to communicate in English for Pro-Am contests, acceptance speeches, and media interviews in two years or their tour qualifications would be suspended until they built adequate language proficiency (Shipnuck, 2008). Amid a barrage of negative headlines and the likely anti-discrimination lawsuits, the controversial policy did not go into effect. Although the LPGA claims that the language barrier of international golfers is a major obstacle that the organization has to handle, cultural differences are, in effect, the fundamental issue the organization needs to manage. For example, Asian cultures in general do not encourage excessive emotional expression or any form of self-promotion; therefore, a higher level of language proficiency would not necessarily remedy the lack of interpersonal interactions of some international players. Consequently, to properly tackle this issue, scholars should first examine the meaning of culture and how it is perceived in distinct societies.

Review of literature

Cultural influence on human behavior

Culture is a multidimensional concept that is shaped by a combination of such diverse factors as historical events, geography, shared traditions, language, values, and standards (Hill, 2005; McFarlin & Sweeney, 2013). There is no one-size-fits- all definition of culture, but various definitions have been used in accordance with specific research disciplines. For example, Schwarz and Hunter (2008) stated that “culture is the principal attitudes, behaviors, values, beliefs, and customs that typify the functioning of a society" (p. 336). Overall, the concept of culture provides a common ground for members in a society to share thoughts, attitudes, emotions, and behaviors, thereby shaping the way of perceiving and evaluating the world around themselves (Hall, 1989; Hofstede, 1980; Torelli & Cheng, 2015).

As such, people from different cultures perceive similar situations differently based on their cultural values and behave differently in response. For example, in a brand perception study, Foscht, Maloles 111, Swoboda, Morschett, and Sinha (2008) found that even though an international brand’s message on its product was identical across cultures, the same message was perceived drastically different. The similar observation is also apparent in sports. Performing a bat flip after hitting a home run is not unusual and often perceived as an entertaining celebration in South Korea and Japan, and it is not surprising to find that people from these geographically close countries have similar cultures based on active interactions and considerable influences on one another (Schwartz, 2009). In contrast, in the United States, bat flips are considered rude and inconsistent with baseball etiquette. A U.S. hitter who performs a bat flip would likely face retaliation, such as being hit by a pitch in a subsequent at-bat(Keh, 2015).

Many scholars in the fields of marketing and management have investigated the influence of culture on cross-cultural behavioral disposition and consumer behavior. The majority of their studies utilized the framework proposed by Hof- stede (1980) that the culture of a country could be categorized by four bipolar dimensions of values, and these values are most relevant to explain differences in distinct cultures’ consumer behavior. The first dimension, individualism- collectivism, explains the way people see themselves as an individual or a member of a group within a cultural context. This categorization is widely recognized for differentiating cultures and posits that a high level of individualism is commonly shared among Western cultures while many Asian cultures emphasize collectivism and downplay individualism (Keegan & Green, 2005; Ng & Han, 2009; Triandis, 2001). Second, masculinity-femininity describes the degree to which members of a culture value material success (masculinity) or affiliation (femininity). Although males are more likely to pursue assertive acquisition of money and power in most cultures, there are distinct cultural differences among countries in this regard (Newman & Nollen, 1996). Third, power distance indicates the extent to which an individual is willing to accept the uneven distribution of power and social status within society and organizations, thereby affecting behaviors toward hierarchical order. Fourth, uncertainty avoidance reflects an individual’s reaction to ambiguous situations. Cultures with a high level of uncertainty avoidance are less willing to accept behavioral differences, and they are more likely to see differences as a threat (McFarlin &. Sweeney, 2013).

Based on this framework, Hofstede (1980) showed that many Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Thailand could be culturally grouped together considering they were all characterized by collectivism, greater power distance, stronger uncertainty avoidance, and more femininity. In contrast, cultural characteristics of many Western countries, such as the United States, were characterized by individualism, lesser power distance, weaker uncertainty avoidance, and more masculinity. These differences could be conducive to understanding the challenges the LPGA is currently facing. For instance, being humble during a tour winning interview would be considered as a virtue in many Asian cultures, whereas the same reaction might be deemed insincere from a Western cultural perspective. McFarlin and Sweeney (2013) argued that a cross-cultural awareness in multinational communication is much needed as a message could be perceived entirely differently in distinct cultural settings.

Theory of reasoned action

According to the TRA, people tend to behave in ways to obtain positive out- comes and to meet the expectations of significant others. TRA is an approach to explain how attitude and subjective norms directly correlate with people’s behavioral intentions, which are considered the single most influential precursor of actual behavior (Ajzen &. Fishbein, 1980). In their meta-analysis, Hagger, Chatzisarantis, and Biddle (2002) reported a medium-to-large effects size on the intention-behavior relationship and further proposed that intention was the sole predictor of a behavior.

More specifically, attitude is an individual’s consistent response to a given object, either favorable or unfavorable, which is influenced by behavioral beliefs (Ajzen, 1991). Behavioral beliefs of the expected outcomes and evaluation of these outcomes constitute individuals’ attitudes toward the behavior. An individual’s beliefs are formed based on knowledge and are derived from direct observation, indirect outside sources, or self-generated inferences (Fishbein &. Ajzen, 1975). In conjunction with outcome evaluation, an attitude toward a given behavior is positive when an individual believes the behavior will result in favorable consequences.

A subjective norm is the sum of the product of normative beliefs that significant others, such as family and friends think he/she should (or should not) engage in the behavior and the individual’s motivation to comply with their expectation (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). In other words, a subjective norm is “the perceived social pressure to perform or not to perform the behavior” (Ajzen, 1991, p. 188). Although many empirical studies in management have reported that attitude toward a behavioral attention has a stronger impact on consequential behavior over subjective norms (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980; Hagger et al., 2002; Sheeran, Norman, & Orbell, 1999; Sperber, Fishbein, & Ajzen, 1980), some studies have found an equal importance of subjective norm in sport consumption; specifically, it is suggested that sport spectators usually do not attend an event alone, making the influence of significant others an important factor to be considered in their decision-making process (Brown, Bennett, &. Ballouli, 2016; Cunningham & Kwon, 2003).

Although Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) proposed that attitude is a function of expected outcome and its evaluation, other researchers have posited that many other factors influence an individual’s attitude formation. For instance, attitude can be defined as “an enduring organization of motivational, emotional, perceptual, and cognitive processes with respect to some aspect of the individual’s world” (Krech &. Crutchfield, 1948, p. 152). Therefore, it is suggested that cognitive, affective, and conative (behavioral) components are interrelated to form one’s attitude toward an object and behavior (Rosenberg &. Hovland, 1960). Based on this approach to attitude development, this chapter proposes that fans’ attitudes toward LPGA tournaments correlate with cognitive (belief and perception) and affective (familiarity) components.

Multicultural belief

Due to the rapid globalization taking place in countries around the world, more people from a large number of different nations are becoming multilingual and multicultural (Chen, Benet-Martfnez, &. Harris Bond, 2008). In fact, very few countries are viewed as monocultural society (i.e., Iceland, Portugal, and Koreas) (Kymlicka, 2003). Given these social changes in most countries, the value of diversity for social development and cohesion has been discussed extensively. While proponents of diversity in society have argued that cultural and value differences among groups are positive driving forces for social change and development, critics have asserted that diversity is a threat to social cohesion. These different views are referred to as intergroup ideologies, or diversity beliefs, which are people’s ideological beliefs regarding the value of diversity in a society.

The ideology of multiculturalism or multicultural belief is referred to as “the belief that differences among ethnic and cultural groups should be recognized and embraced” (Ryan, Casas, &. Thompson, 2010, p. 30). Under multiculturalism, maintenance of diverse cultural and ethnic groups’ identities and heritages is encouraged and supported (Guimond, de la Sablonniere, & Nugier, 2014; Rattan & Ambady, 2013; Verkuyten, 2005); therefore, it has been broadly advocated as an effective means to promote intergroup relations and achieve harmony and equality among distinct groups within a society (Fowers & Richardson, 1996). Those who believe in multiculturalism assert that intergroup conflicts are mainly caused by lack of understanding and awareness of group differences/similarities (Wolsko, Park, Judd, &. Wittenbrink, 2000). However, others criticize the multicultural approach and argue that due to its main characteristic of respecting and encouraging group differences, stereotyping and prejudice toward out-groups, which are major sources of intergroup conflicts, would be strengthened, and many have contended that multiculturalism may provide justification for segregation and separation (Brewer, 1997; Haidt, Rosenberg, & Horn, 2003).

Although some studies found a negative impact of multicultural approach on intergroup relations, such as increased out-group stereotypicality (Costa-Lopes, Pereira, & Judd, 2014; Morrison, Plaut, &. Ybarra, 2010; Rattan &. Ambady, 2013; Ryan et al., 2010), it was suggested that stereotypicality toward out-group members was established based on more accurate perception of group differences (Wolsko, Park, & Judd, 2006; Wolsko et al., 2000). For example, Wolsko et al. (2000) suggested that when group memberships are valued, people tend to learn and recognize differences between cultural and ethnic groups, which would lead to increased prejudice and stereotyping against other groups; however, negative perceptions toward other groups could be mitigated since lack of information and knowledge of other groups are the main sources for the development of negativities. Therefore, Wolsko et al. (2000) claimed that stronger stereotypes and intergroup harmony are not mutually exclusive as enhanced attitudes toward outgroup members among those who endorsed multicultural perspective. In fact, research in social psychology has provided supporting evidence of the positive role of group memberships under multiethnic environments (e.g., Cohen &. Garcia, 2005).

On the other end of the spectrum, the assimilation approach pursues the reduction or even elimination of diversity within society; expressed as “melting pot” policy, it had been the pervasive ideology until the 1960s in dealing with immigrants and ethnic diversity in the United States and Canada (Taylor & Moghaddam, 1994)- Those who believe in assimilation argue that every ethnic and cultural group can provide unique values for the formation of the new “one” group within society (Guimond et al., 2014). However, assimilation requires ethnic and cultural minority groups to give up their identity and tradition and merge into the way of life of dominant group in pursuit of national unity and cohesion (Rattan & Ambady, 2013; Verkuyten, 2005). In other words, assimilation advocates hierarchical intergroup relations in favor of the majority group. It is thus unsurprising that mainstreamers tend to support this approach over multicultur- alism in dealing with diversity in a society (Guimond et al., 2014; Verkuyten, 2005; Wolsko et al., 2006). Because several social psychology theories, such as similarity-attraction theory and social identity theory, suggest that similarity is the main factor that constructs group identity and positive attitudes toward others within a group, it is also expected to reduce out-group bias by formulating a single unified identity within a society under the assimilation paradigm (Guimond et al., 2014; Verkuyten, 2005; Wolsko et al., 2006). However, the main drawback of this approach is that because it requires ethnic minorities to sacrifice their cultural background, it is a less desirable and viable option for, and may cause resistance from, minority groups, specifically those with strong ethnic and cultural identities (Rosenthal &. Levy, 2010).

Ethnic identification has been found to be an important factor that influences an individual’s endorsement of multicultural beliefs since it provides a complex combination of benefits and drawbacks to both minority and majority group members. In a study on minority and majority group members in the Netherlands, Verkuyten (2005) reported that those who endorse multicultural beliefs tend to report stronger ethnic identification among minority group members and weaker identification among socially majority group. In addition, the Dutch whose diversity beliefs were in favor of multiculturalism expressed more positive out-group evaluation. Other findings also suggest that the level of ethnic identity among dominant group members was one of the strong indicators that influences their belief in multicultural approach. For example, when white American students and adults were experimentally primed with the ideology of multiculturalism, multicultural approach was perceived as a threat for social cohesion among participants with higher ethnic identity, while stronger prejudiced attitudes and behavioral intention toward diversity in a society were presented (Morrison et al., 2010).

Nonetheless, a large number of experimental research studies reported a positive impact of multiculturalism over assimilation in intergroup relations (e.g., Richeson & Nussbaum, 2004; Ryan et al., 2010; Ryan, Hunt, Weible, Peterson, &

Casas, 2007; Verkuyten, 2005; Vorauer, Gagnon, &. Sasaki, 2009; Wolsko et al., 2000, 2006). First, prejudice reduction and positive intergroup attitude were reported among those who believe in multiculturalism (Sasaki &. Vorauer, 2013; Wolsko et al., 2000). Second, people with higher multicultural orientation exhibited less ethnocentrism (Ryan et al., 2007) and more favorable intergroup attitudes (Ward &. Masgoret, 2006; Wolsko et al., 2006). Third, positive outgroup evaluations were found among both ethnic minority and majority group members when they expressed higher multicultural beliefs (Vorauer et al., 2009). Similarly, a positive association between endorsement of multicultural ideology and decreased perceived intergroup anxiety among dominant group members were also found (Velasco Gonzalez, Verkuyten, Weesie, & Poppe, 2008).

As intergroup relations and interactions were significantly influenced by one’s ideological beliefs, it is highly likely that the ideological beliefs of LPGA fans in the United States have a similar influence on their viewership of the game given the increasingly diversified ethnic and cultural groups of golfers in LPGA tournaments. Therefore, we propose that the multicultural beliefs of LPGA viewers positively correlate with their attitude toward watching LPGA tournaments.

Cultural familiarity

According to the Oxford English Dictionaries (2020), the definition of familiarity is “close acquaintance with or knowledge of something,” and in social science, familiarity is closely associated with prior experience that is based on direct interaction with an object (Whittlesea, Jacoby, & Girard, 1990) and significantly influences the information process and the evaluation of an object such as a product or a brand (Fazio, 1989). Moreover, studies across several diverse disciplines have reported a positive link between familiarity and favorable evaluation of an object. For instance, several travel and tourism studies have reported that overall evaluation of the attractiveness and destination image was found to be more favorable when tourists are familiar with the destination (Baloglu, 2001; Chon, 1991; Hu & Ritchie, 1993; Milman &. Pizam, 1995). Similarly, many scholars in marketing found that consumers tend to show a favorable attitude toward familiar products or brands, which was often positively related with a buying decision (Arora &. Stoner, 1996; Baker, Hutchinson, Moore, &. Nedungadi, 1986; Bet- tman & Sujan, 1987; Laroche, Kim, & Zhou, 1996). Furthermore, familiarity safeguards individuals’ attitude from the impact of negative stimuli. In the study of the impact of negative athlete celebrity endorser publicity on sponsor and event brand attitudes, Doyle, Pentecost, and Funk (2014) found that consumers’ attitudes toward more familiar brands and events were less vulnerable to negative information and unlikely to be changed; on the other hand, consumers’ attitudes toward unfamiliar brands registered a significant impact. Thus, it is proposed that consumers’ attitudes toward familiar brands are more accessible and favorable than that of unfamiliar brands (Fazio, 1989).

Cultural familiarity in this study refers to a consumer’s amount of information and accumulated exposure and experiences with another culture. When brand or product familiarity is positively associated with favorable attitudes and evaluation, an individual’s familiarity with other cultures is more likely to have a positive impact on intercultural and interethnic interactions, considering the meaning of culture and its influence on people and their behaviors. For instance, in a study of ethnic food acceptance, Jang and Kim (2015) found that the level of cultural familiarity played an important role in the acceptance of a novel food among food neophobic group; behavior intentions to try Korean novel food were significantly enhanced when respondents in a neophobic group were familiar with Korean culture. Although the authors did not measure participants’ attitude, previous research on the relationship between attitude and intention suggests that survey participants who were familiar with Korean culture would have had a more positive attitude toward Korean food and thus increased behavior intention was reported. Similarly, a positive assessment of Korean society was reported among Romanians who were familiar with the Korean pop culture (Marinescu &. Balica, 2013).

In the management discipline, the influence of cultural familiarity of an individual who is exposed to cross-cultural environment has been investigated extensively; due to the increased international operations of large corporations over the last few decades, more employees have been assigned to foreign branches and the effectiveness of cross-cultural training on expatriate managers’ intercultural interactions gained attention from many scholars. Although, cross-cultural training provides individuals with a handful of experiences and opportunities to get familiar with the culture of the host country (Black &. Mendenhall, 1990), many top managements doubted the value of cross-cultural training when it was first introduced. This is partly because some perceived the training as ineffective (Tung, 1981), while others believed there is no link between job performance and different cultural environment of host country (Miller, 1973). However, contrary' to these beliefs, about 20% to 40% of all managers were not able to fulfill the initial length of international assignment; adjustment to the new culture was found to be one of the main causes of returning home early (Black &. Mendenhall, 1990; Tung, 1981). In line with this finding, Triandis (1994) proposed that when people encounter other cultures with large cultural distance, and when both parties do not have adequate knowledge of and familiarity with the counterpart’s culture, it is highly likely that they see each other to be absolutely different, which will negatively influence intercultural interactions.

One effective way to become familiar with a certain culture is by consuming cultural products such as movies, music, and rituals. Cultural products provide meaningful information and basic understanding of a culture by demonstrating in them the values, opinions, and behaviors of the members of the group in their social and cultural context (Morling & Lamoreaux, 2008). Moreover, they are a useful form of communication that easily reaches a national and international audience since most members of the population are exposed to these products in some degrees (Crane, 1992). Accordingly, it is expected that the major LPGA fan populations in the United States have many opportunities to become familiar with various foreign cultures given the increased immigrant communities and availability of their cultural products within the U.S. society. Therefore, considering the meaning and influence of culture on human behavior and the role of cultural familiarity in intercultural interactions, it is expected that familiarity with the cultures that many leading golfers are from positively relates with attitude toward watching LPGA tournaments.

Perception toward LPGA tournaments

People tend to perceive the same things or situations differently as they see what they want and expect to see (Mooij, 2004). Perception can be defined as the process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting stimuli that are received by individuals (Solomon, Bamossy, & Askegaard, 2002). Information process of diverse sources such as exposure, attention, and interpretation of external stimuli is found to he one of the main attributes that affects perceptual formation toward an object (Court & Lupton, 1997; San Martin & Del Bosque, 2008). Therefore, perception is a cognitive filter that influences an individual’s evaluation of a certain object and experience (Funk, 2008). For instance, when a group of culturally diverse students were instructed to describe a certain activity they had witnessed together, each student perceived the activity so differently that diverse descriptions of the same activity were presented (McCurdy, Spradley, &. Shandy, 2004).

Fans’ perception toward a sport is one of the important factors influencing their behavior. For instance, toughness and endurance are perceptions associated with triathlon while team spirit, speed, and technique are the perceptual image of basketball in Germany (Hallmann, 2012). In conjunction with an individual’s own personality, perception of each sport is one of the main attributes that attracts fans and spectators for a specific sport (Beech & Chadwick, 2007). Similarly, during 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup that was held in Germany, Hallmann (2012) found that intention to attend a match was positively associated with the perceived image toward the sport event.

When perception toward an object changes, there is a tendency that evaluation of the object changes accordingly. In the study of the success and popularity of the 1999 U.S. Women’s World Cup team (football) over its previous teams, Christopherson, Janning, and McConnell (2002) analyzed media coverage of the team and found that the general perception of fans and spectators toward the team as well as the World Cup was changed by media’s inclusion on the gender contradiction that was against the traditional stereotype of femininity. One of the noticeable perceptual changes was that the team was perceived as a role model for young girls with enhanced gender equality, and spectators expressed more positive attitude toward the team compared to its previous national women soccer team.

In sport management context, positive relationship between perception and attitude has been reported. Funk (2008) argued that perception is one of the internal forces that constitute the level of individual’s attitude formation, and the formed attitude eventually affects one’s evaluation of sport products during decision-making process. For example, in a study of the green Olympic movement, Jin, Zhang, Ma, and Connaughton (2011) showed that positive perceptions of residence toward 2008 Beijing Green Olympic Games was one of the antecedents that attributed to the formation of positive attitudes toward hosting mega sport events and the attitude closely related with intention and actual behavior of supporting the initiatives.

A large number of studies have found the significant influence of media and its framing on perception and perceived image of athletes and sports; media coverage on female athletes and women sports is much smaller and less favorable compared to that on male athletes and sports (Fink, 2015; Parker &. Fink, 2008; Sherry, Osborne, &. Nicholson, 2016). Femininity of female athletes such as grace and beauty were often emphasized over their performance (Fink, 2015), and athletic achievements are often downplayed and trivialized (Parker & Fink, 2008), both of which are found to have negative impact on spectators’ perception and attitude toward athletes and the sport. For instance, during broadcasting, lack of athletic ability of female professional golfers was more frequently mentioned for bad shots whereas difficulty of the golf course was more frequently blamed for mistakes male golfers made (Weiller & Higgs, 1999). Moreover, they also found that commentators emphasized skills and performance for the description of male golfers while less comments on the athletic strength were made toward female golfers. Therefore, these comments have likely influenced perception and attitude formation toward female golfers and tournaments. In sum, based on previous literature on perception and its influence on attitude, we propose that perception toward the LPGA tournaments influences the attitude toward watching the LPGA tournaments (Figure 8.1).

Discussion

Although the composition of top performers in the LPGA has recently shifted to include a large number of foreign golfers, the impact of this change on the viewer- ship of U.S. consumers has not been addressed in any study thus far. Considering the unique characteristics of broadcasting professional golf where tournament leaders are televised extensively, the change in the tour leading group in the LPGA seems to have had a critical impact on viewership. Therefore, it is worth investigating the potential factors that influence viewers’ behaviors in this new environment.

The conceptual framework proposed in this chapter extends the theory of reasoned action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) by suggesting consumers’ multicul- turalism belief, cultural familiarity, and perception of the events are antecedents of consumers’ attitude toward the LPGA tournaments. More specifically, we

Conceptual Model Depicting the Influence of Beliefs and Perception Toward the LPGA Tournaments on Affect and Behavior of Watching the LPGA Tournaments

Figure 8.1 Conceptual Model Depicting the Influence of Beliefs and Perception Toward the LPGA Tournaments on Affect and Behavior of Watching the LPGA Tournaments

propose that affective and cognitive factors influence the attitude formation of the LPGA viewers and suggest the following:

  • 1 The degree of multicultural belief, an individual’s belief that differences among ethnic and cultural groups (e.g., culture, language, heritage) should be recognized and embraced, is positively related to the attitude toward watching the LPGA tournaments.
  • 2 Positive attitudes toward watching the LPGA tournament would be found among those who are familiar with the culture of which the main international golfers are from.
  • 3 Perception toward the LPGA is closely associated with the attitude toward the LPGA.

Consequently, along with the normative belief-subjective norm path proposed by the TRA, viewers’ attitudes that are influenced by these elements will then influence intention to watch the LPGA and subsequently affect actual watching behaviors. Although empirical studies examining the relationship among constructs proposed in this model are necessary, the model will have practical implication for the LPGA. This model proposes that marketers of the LPGA should develop cultural awareness campaigns to educate viewers and formulate cultural interaction programs to enhance cross-cultural appreciation that will attract more viewers within the U.S. market. If this is successful, the increased viewership will produce better financial performance via contracting a better broadcasting deal. In addition, this could also attract potential title sponsors. In fact, due to the global popularity of the tour, more international title sponsors have been recruited in recent years: Buick LPGA Shanghai became a new tournament sponsor in 2018, while BMW Ladies Championship was first played in South Korea during 2019 season. In addition, considering the trend of recruiting more international athletes in many professional sports, the framework can be referenced to examine consumer behaviors when the composition of players is diversified, although consumer behaviors of individual sport and team sport may differ from each other, which can limit the implication of proposed model in team sport environments.

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