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May 10, 2001 Capital idea: Soccer players to present paper in D.C.



Frank Pons, Mehdi Mourali

Marketing graduate students Frank Pons and Mehdi Mourali also excel at their chosen sport. They were both selected to the QSSF all-star team this season, and recently participated in the QSSF all-stars vs. Montreal Impact exhibition soccer game at Centre Claude Robillard.

Photo by Vladimir Pavlicik

by John Austen

They met playing soccer—and then they started talking scholarship. Marketing students Frank Pons and Mehdi Mourali of the varsity Stingers will travel to Washington, D.C. in August to present a paper to the annual conference of the American Marketing Association.

“Why Do We Consume Sporting Events? Scale Development and Buying Implications” deals with sports fans and what makes them tick.

“People go to watch sports for different reasons,” said Pons, who is 30, and working on his PhD. “We set out to discover people’s orientation towards a sporting event and the subsequent buying behaviour of sports-related products.”

The research for the paper is based on a survey Pons did for his Master’s degree. More than 200 people in the Quebec City area were interviewed.

“An individual’s orientation is composed of an affective component, a cognitive component and a social component,” said Mourali, 25, who is finishing his Master’s. “These dimensions constitute the different modalities that a sporting spectacle can offer.”

Four fan groups

Pons and Mourali identify four different groups of fans. The Super Fan cluster includes individuals with high scores on each dimension of the sporting events orientation. These people know their stuff and display behaviours that are in line with this strong orientation.

The second group includes individuals who are moderately sports-oriented in general, but who present a strong orientation for the social aspects of sports. The Social Fan is characterized by a medium to high level of memorabilia purchase (to show belonging), average levels of TV or attendance at live events, and an average level of spending on sporting events.

The third model, the Experimental Fan, describes consumers who have a moderate general sports orientation, but who present a high sensation-seeking level.

The Fan by Default presents the lowest general orientation towards sporting events, but still presents some levels of purchase, attendance and interest.

“Even if you don’t like sports, you still know who Tiger Woods or Mario Lemieux are,” Pons said.

“At a certain point, sports goes beyond the boundaries. People follow these people or events for different reasons.”

Pons and Mourali credit Concordia Marketing Professor Michel Laroche, as well as soccer coach Vladimir Pavlicik, for much of their success at university.

“Dr. Laroche is one of the best marketing teachers around,” said Pons. “We owe a lot to him.”
Pavlicik, who is also the Assistant Director of Recreation and Athletics, says his players excel both on and off the soccer field.

“It doesn’t surprise me that these two have written a paper worthy of being presented at such a prestigious conference,” said Pavlicik.

Pons, a third-year defender with the Stingers, had the highest marks of any student athlete last year. Mourali, a native of Tunisia, has played midfield for the Stingers for the past two years. Both players have played on Quebec University All-Star teams.

“To do a paper like this, you have to have more than a passing interest in sports,” said Mourali. “We thought this paper was interesting, and I guess the American Marketing Association agreed. This trip is very important for us.”