Title: Professional sports fans' interests in hosting an international visitor at a game: evidence for 'sports hosts'

Authors: Eric C. Schwarz; Aurélie Pankowiak

Addresses: College of Sport and Exercise Science, Victoria University, Footscray Park Campus, P.O. Box 14428, Melbourne, Victoria 8001, Australia ' Institute for Health and Sport (IHES), Victoria University, Footscray Park Campus, P.O. Box 14428, Melbourne, Victoria 8001, Australia

Abstract: A growing number of sport enthusiasts travel overseas to attend professional sports games. In parallel, fans of local professional leagues seek unique social experiences when attending games. Sport tourism literature suggests that social interactions between hosts and guests provide a unique experience for both, however, knowledge about local sports fans' interests in interacting with international travellers is lacking. This research explored the interests of fans hosting international tourists during a regular-season game. Qualitative content analysis was performed on survey responses from 1,222 Australian Football League (AFL) fans interested in hosting an international traveller at a game. Four main factors emerged: connection with people (75.5%), being an AFL game promoter (42.6%), fans' emotional attachment (34.2%), and providing the visitor a distinctive experience (27.3%). This study provides evidence on the emergence of a 'sport host' as a sporting experience consumer. Implications for sport tourism and fan engagement researchers and practitioners are discussed.

Keywords: sport tourism; international travellers; professional sports; fan engagement; host-guest connection; sport host.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2020.10037970

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2020 Vol.20 No.5/6, pp.387 - 404

Received: 23 Apr 2020
Accepted: 29 Nov 2020

Published online: 18 May 2021 *

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