Conceptualising commitment: a thematic analysis of fans of Welsh rugby

David Shearer, Gareth Roderique-Davies, Peter Mayer, Ross Hall, G.A Hall, R Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sports fans derive much of their self-concept from their group membership and committing to a specific team is an essential component of fandom. Few studies, however, examine how sports fans commit to their team, or what commitment means for them. An exploratory qualitative study was, therefore, conducted to investigate sports fans' understanding of commitment. Using focus groups, Welsh rugby fans from three regions in Wales discussed their commitment to their favourite team. Thematic analysis was used to interpret Welsh rugby fans' dominant thoughts about their commitment where four themes were identified in the data: affective loyalty, involvement, distinctiveness and individualism. In general, sports fans distinguished between different types of commitment and used commitment as a means for evaluating in- and out-group fan behaviour, as well as for personal image management. Future research could build on the present study by using these themes to develop a measurement scale for assessing fans' commitment to their team.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138 - 153
Number of pages15
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2012


  • sports fans
  • commitment
  • social identity
  • thematic analysis


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