What Do Their Partners Say?

An Examination of Fan-Family Conflict Through the Lens of Sports Fans’ Significant Others


  • Jason Simmons University of Cincinnati
  • Alicia Cintron University of Cincinnati
  • Heidi Grappendorf Western Carolina University


Fan-Family Conflict, Sport Fans, Family, Inter-role Conflict


To date, much of the literature examining inter-role conflict between sport fan and family roles (i.e., fan-family conflict) has focused on this phenomenon from the perspective of the sport fan. Yet prior research has identified a clear spillover effect of fandom affecting significant others in the form of increased household responsibilities and emotional withdrawal from the family (Simmons et al.,  2018; Tinson et al., 2017), and has the potential to put a strain on relationships (Vallerand et al., 2008). The current study sought to expand our understanding of fan-family conflict by adding the perspectives of significant others of highly identified sport fans. Interviews were conducted with 12 such participants to gain insights into the types of fan-family conflict experienced within their households, as well as the contributors to conflict. Three types of fan-family conflict were prevalent among those interviewed: time-based, strain-based, and behavior-based. Contributors to conflict included value incongruity, fan partner role identity, time devoted to the fan role, fan role support, stage in family life cycle, and the adherence to traditional gender roles.


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