Out-Group Treatment in Higher Education: Using Rivalry to Allow Student Comparison of In-Group and Out-Group Members in NCAA Competition Divisions

Out-Group Treatment in Higher Education: Using Rivalry to Allow Student Comparison of In-Group and Out-Group Members in NCAA Competition Divisions

Cody T. Havard (The University of Memphis, USA), Timothy T. Ryan (The University of Memphis, USA) and Skylar S. Workman (The University of Memphis, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8125-3.ch003

Abstract

The chapter investigates differences in the ways college students compare to out-groups using the different NCAA competition divisions. In particular, students enrolled at schools in all six (i.e., Power Five, Group of Five, FCS, DI No Football, DII, DIII) reported their perceptions of rival school's athletics teams using the Sport Rivalry Fan Perception Scale (SRFPS). Differences were found regarding student perceptions among competition divisions. Specifically, attendance at a Power Five School influenced student's willingness to support rival teams against other teams, the enjoyment from defeating the rival team, perceptions of rival academic prestige and fan behavior, and likelihood of experiencing Glory Out of Reflected Failure (GORFing), or celebrating when the rival experiences indirect failure. Further, students attending DI No Football Schools and DIII Schools chose academic prestige as a way to derogate their rival schools. Discussion focuses on implications to higher education and avenues for future research.
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Main Focus Of The Chapter

Issues, Controversies, Problems

The purpose of the current study is two-fold. First, we investigate how in-group member evaluations of rival school athletics teams differ by competition division as determined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Second, in-group member likely reactions to the news of a rival school’s athletics teams experiencing indirect failure (i.e., failure not directly involving the favorite team) is measured by NCAA division. Specifically, we looked at differences between students attending NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) ‘Power Five’ Schools (Power Five Schools), NCAA Division I FBS ‘Group of Five’ Schools (Group of Five Schools), NCAA Division I Schools with No Football (DI No Football Schools), NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision Schools (FCS Schools), NCAA Division II Schools (DII Schools), and NCAA Division III Schools (DIII Schools). Understanding differences in student perceptions and behavioral outcomes toward rivals and out-group by competition level is important, as it can help us further understand how individuals relate to an out-group at various levels of competition.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Glory Out of Reflected Failure (GORFing): The feelings of excitement or joy a fan experiences when their rival team loses to someone other than their favorite team. The rivalry phenomenon has to be present in order for GORFing to be activated.

Sport Rivalry Fan Perception Scale (SRFPS): The 12-item, four factor scale that measures how fans view or perceive their favorite team. The SRFPS measures fan likelihood to support the rival in indirect competition, perception of rival prestige, perception of rival fan behavior, and the satisfaction a fan feels when their favorite team defeats the rival team.

Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) – Power Five: Schools and conferences in this competition group are the ones typically seen on major national television networks most frequently and enjoy more revenue than any other level. The Power Five conferences are the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten Conference, the Big 12 Conference, the Pac 12 Conference, and the Southeastern Conference. The schools in this group are now able to make decisions based on interests of the Power Five Conferences, a departure from the previous NCAA decision-making model. Schools competing at this level also qualify for post-season bowl games based on their performance, with a four-team tournament (within the bowl system) deciding the national champion. Sports other than football at this level compete with other teams and conferences in the NCAA Division I competition level.

Sport Spectator Identification Scale (SSIS): A seven-item scale that measures the amount of identification an individual feels toward a team. The SSIS was the first fan identification measure developed and validated, has currently been cited over 1,100 times.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA): This is the major governing body for athletic competitions at that national level. They are faced with making rulings, and upholding rules within the competition structure. Presidents of member schools are responsible for voting and passing rules for competition within the NCAA.

Division III: Schools and conferences competing at this level have the option of sponsoring football. Schools at this level quality for post-season tournaments to decide national champions in sponsored activities. A major difference between DIII and DII, is student-athletes at the DIII level are not allowed to receive financial support based on their athletic abilities. Instead, students (student-athletes and non-student-athletes) may only receive financial aid based on their academic performance. Schools and conferences at this level are rarely seen on national television, with media rights agreements usually pertaining to Internet-based coverage.

Social Identity Theory (SIT): The belief that the group(s) an individual belongs to tells something about their personal identity. SIT has been used to study numerous social phenomenon in fields including psychology and sport management.

Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS): Schools and conferences that compete at this level sponsor football, however, they are not typically seen on major national television. Teams and conferences have television rights, but the revenue produced from these agreements is significantly smaller than that at the FBS levels. Football teams qualify for a 16-team post-season tournament based on their performance. Teams at this level do not participate in post-season bowl games. Outside of football, teams and conferences compete with others within the NCAA Division I structure. Teams and conferences at this level are perhaps best known for beating top-tier teams in the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, and possibly representing Tournament Cinderella’s .

Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) – Non-Power Five: Schools and conferences in this competition group have television rights, and teams are frequently seen on television. However, the revenue produced at this level is significantly lower than that at the Power Five level. Schools and conferences fall under the NCAA’s traditional decision-making model. Like Power Five, schools competing at this level also qualify for post-season bowls based on their performance, with a four-team tournament (within the bowl system) deciding the national champion. It should be noted that for the vast majority of schools competing at this level, the payouts they receive from bowl game appearances is significantly lower than that of Power Five schools due to conference/bowl game agreements, and to date, no team from a Non-Power Five conference has been invited to the four-team national championship tournament. Sports other than football at this level compete with other teams and conferences in the NCAA Division I competition level.

In-Group Bias: The tendency of an individual to display favoritism toward members of their identified in-group (Favorite Team) and derogation toward the identified out-group (Rival Team).

Schadenfreude: The joy an individual experiences when someone else experiences failure.

Division I No Football: Teams and conferences competing at this level do not sponsor football. Most teams at this level are best-known for their men’s and women’s basketball teams, or non-revenue sports such as women’s volleyball, men’s baseball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and women’s softball. Student-athletes competing in this classification still receive financial assistance in the form of scholarships. Teams and conferences at this level are perhaps best known for making deep runs in the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, with several receiving media praise and favorable seeds in post-season tournaments. Schools in this division can also compete in conferences at the FCS, Non-Power Five, or even Power-Five levels in sports other than football. However, it shoud be noted that no non-football school currently competes in a Power Five Conference. Schools and conferences at this level can be seen on national television, depending on performance and media/public interest.

Division II: Schools and conferences competing at this level have the option of sponsoring football. Schools at this level qualify for post-season tournaments to decide national champions in sponsored activities. Athletes at this level are still available to receive financial support based on their athletic abilities to attend school. Schools and conferences at this level are rarely seen on national television, with media rights agreements usually pertaining to Internet-based coverage.

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