Objective: We investigate how (a) attendance at sport games and (b) identification with a sport team as fans (i.e., team identification) influence older adults’ perceptions of emotional support, belonging, and subjective well-being (SWB). Method: An experimental pilot study was conducted with 50 older adults, followed by a main survey study administered to 534 older adults from various communities across the United States. Results: Pilot study results indicated that game attendance and team identification had a positive and significant influence on older adults’ perceptions of emotional support from fellow team fans. These results were replicated in the main study, which also showed that older adults’ perceived emotional support from fellow fans was positively associated with their sense of belonging which predicted their SWB. Discussion: The findings provide insights into how older adults may be engaged in meaningful forms of social life to help them maintain and enhance mental health.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank Dr. Nyla Branscombe for her helpful feedback on an earlier draft of this article. The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The Janet B. Parks NASSM Research Grant and the Sport Industry Research Center at Temple University supported the research reported in this article.
- group identification
- older adults
- spectator sport
- subjective well-being