Frequent or recurring competition between the opponents
Fan quote: “Twice a year every year since 1960”
Conflict with a highly salient outgroup that poses acute threat and enhancement to ingroup identity and/or esteem.
A thorough explanation can be found in Tyler & Cobbs (2015), but in short, 10 main ingredients fall into three categories: Conflict Conditions, Strong Similarity, and Deep Differences.
Frequent or recurring competition between the opponents
Fan quote: “Twice a year every year since 1960”
Memorable incident—positive or negative—between competitors
Fan quote: “Dustin Brown’s hit on Rosival in 2011 playoffs”
Extraordinary individuals (performers, personalities, legacies)
Fan quote: “Brady vs. Manning”
Comparable success (recent/historic) or uncertainty of outcome
Fan quote: “2 historically great teams”
Competitors are located close to each other
Fan quote: “When you grow up with two schools in close proximity, you get a lot of arguing from peers”
Shared values/appearance between opponents or supporters
Fan quote: “Similar institutions with similar missions and proud histories”
Shared Supply Pool:
Competition for labor talent and/or other resources
Fan quote: “Both teams often recruit some of the same players in the Midwest Region”
One competitor aspires to overcome the historical success or dominance of the other
Fan quote: “We usually get our asses kicked”
Conflicting values/appearance between opponents or supporters
Fan quote: “Islanders-Rangers rivalry is basically built on the blue-collar hardworkers versus the haughty rich city folk“
Discrimination by Authority:
Perceived preferential treatment by competition regulators
Fan quote: “League caters heavily to facilitate NYRB’s success”
We also ask respondents about their feelings and reactions toward rivals, as well as why their favorite team and the teams to which respondents allocate points should be considered rivals.
Rivalry Points: The survey asked respondents to allocate 100 “rivalry points” across opponents of their favorite teams. For instance, if John’s favorite team is the Springfield Isotopes, he may choose to allocate 60 points to the Shelbyvillians, whom he considers to be the Isotopes’s strongest rival, 30 points to the Norsemen, another opposing team he considers to be a rival of the Isotopes, and 10 points to the Woodchucks, a third opponent. Maria is another Isoptopes fan, and she chooses to allocate all 100 points to the Norsemen, the only team she considers to be a rival.
The rivalry score is calculated by taking the average point total toward a rival from all a team’s respondents. The maximum rivalry score is 100, which would mean all respondents listed that team as the lone rival. In our example above, the rivalry score for the Norsemen would be 65, which is the average of John’s 30 points and Maria’s 100 points (Shelbyvillians = 30 points, Woodchucks = 5 points).
The rivalry dyad score (or ‘aggregate score’) is calculated by adding respondents’ average rivalry score toward a particular opponent to the opposing average score of that opponent’s fans. In our example above, if the Norsemen fans held a rivalry score of 50 for the Isotopes, the rivalry dyad score for Isotopes-Norseman would be 115 (65 from Isotopes fans toward the Norseman, and 50 from the Norseman toward the Isotopes). The maximum aggregate score is 200, where all respondents of both teams allocated all 100 rivalry points to the same opponent, and every respondent of the opponent reciprocated with 100 points.
The rivalry dyad difference (or ‘difference score’) is calculated by subtracting respondents’ average rivalry score toward a particular opponent from the opposing average score of that opponent’s fans. Continuing the same example from above, the rivalry dyad difference between the Isotopes and Norseman would be 15 (Isotopes 65 score toward Norseman subtracted from Norseman fans’ score of 50 toward Isotopes). For difference scores, larger numbers indicated more unbalanced rivalries, where one team’s fans are allocating many rivalry points to an opponent whose own fans do not reciprocate with a high allocation of their own rivalry points.
In August 2013, we began by surveying college football fans from Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, or Division I-A) teams using on an online questionnaire posted on almost 200 fan message boards. In the Know Rivalry survey, we ask sports fans about ‘rivalry points,’ as well as respondent identification with the team, feelings and schadenfreude toward opponents and/or their fans, behavioral measures of bias, and basic demographic questions.
Tyler, B. D., Cobbs, J., Nichols, B. S., Dalakas, V. (2021). Schadenfreude, rivalry antecedents, and the role of perceived sincerity in sponsorship of sport rivalries. Journal of Business Research, 124(January), 708-719. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.09.029
Nichols, B. S., Cobbs, J., & Tyler, B. D. (2020). Rival Team Effects in Cause-related Sports Marketing. International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, 21(1), 23-45. doi: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJSMS-01-2019-0010/full/html
Tyler, B. D., Cobbs, J., Xantos, Y. K. (2019). The Roots of Rivalry: Elements and Core Characteristics of Sport Rivalry. In Cody T. Havard (Ed.), Understanding Rivalry and Its Influence on Sports Fans (pp. 1-37). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Cobbs, J., Martinez del Campo del Castillo, D., Tyler, B. D., & Ditter, J. (2019). Regional variation in rivalry: Canadians really are friendlier. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 31(3), 191-202. doi: 10.1080/08961530.2018.1531364
Tyler, B. D., Morehead, C., Cobbs, J. B., & DeSchriver, T. D. (2017). What is rivalry? Old and new approaches to specifying rivalry in demand estimations of spectator sports. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 26(4), 204-222. URL
Cobbs, J. B., Sparks, D., & Tyler, B. D. (2017). Comparing rivalry effects across professional sports: National Football League fans exhibit most animosity. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 26(4), 235-246. URL
Cobbs, J. B. & Tyler, B. D. (2017). The genesis of team rivalry in the New World: Sparks to fan animosity in Major League Soccer. Soccer & Society. doi: 10.1080/14660970.2017.1399609
Parrish, C. T., & Tyler, B. D. (2017). Superclásicos and rivalry antecedents: Exploring soccer club rivalries in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Soccer & Society. doi: 10.1080/14660970.2017.1399604
Tyler, B. D. & Cobbs, J. B. (2017). All rivals are not equal: Clarifying misrepresentations and discerning three core properties of rivalry. Journal of Sport Management, 31, pp 1-14. DOI:10.1123/jsm.2015-0371
Tyler, B. D. & Cobbs, J. B. (2015). Rival conceptions of rivalry: Why some competitions mean more than others. European Sport Management Quarterly, 15(2), 227-248, DOI:10.1080/16184742.2015.1010558
Cobbs, J., Star, S., & Tyler, B. D. (2023, March [postponed from 2022]). Rivalry Dispersion Theory: Are multiple rivals good for society? Research presented at the World Association for Sport Management Conference [WASM], Doha, Qatar.
Cobbs, J., Tyler, B. D., Truta, T. M., & Nichols, B. (2022, August). Mitigating antisocial effects in college football rivalries. Research presented at the summer meeting of the American Marketing Association, Chicago, IL.
Cobbs, J., Star, S., & Tyler, B. D. (2022, February 18). Do the ingredients to rivalry influence antisocial outcomes? A multi-sport exploration. Research presented at the Applied Sport Management Association Conference, Indianapolis, IN.
Cobbs, J., Nichols, B. S., & Tyler, B. D. (2019, November 7). Rivalry and player involvement effects in cause-related sports marketing. Research presented at the annual meeting of the Sport Marketing Association, Chicago, IL.
**Winner, Best Paper Award for Conference**
Tyler, B. D., Cobbs, J., & Star, S. (2019, October 17). Rivalry in the Indian Premier League. Research presented at the World Association for Sport Management [WASM] Conference, Santiago, Chile.
Cobbs, J., Nichols, B. S., Tyler, B. D., & Dalakas, V. (2019, August 9). Navigating the culture war in sponsorship of rivalries. Research presented at the American Marketing Association Summer Educators' Conference, Chicago, IL.
Tyler, B. D., Cobbs, J., & Dalakas, V. (2018, March 9). Schadenfreude and rivalries: Implications for sponsors. Research presented at the Sport Marketing and Sponsorship Conference, San Diego, CA.
Morehead, C., Cobbs, J. B., DeSchriver, T. D., & Tyler, B. D. (2017, October). Accounting for rivalry in estimations of demand in MLS and the NHL. Research presented at the Annual Conference for the Sport Marketing Association (SMA), Boston, MA.
Xantos, Y., Laumann, M., Harris, S., Cobbs, J. B., & Tyler, B. D. (2017, October). Sparks to the rivalry fire: Comparing the antecedents to rivalry across professional sports. Research presented at the Annual Conference for the Sport Marketing Association (SMA), Boston, MA.
Nichols, B., Cobbs, J. B., & Tyler, B. D. (2017, August). Data-driven approaches to cause-related sports marketing: Conflicting effects of rival team presence. Research presented at the Summer Conference for the American Marketing Association (Summer AMA), San Francisco, CA.
Cobbs, J. B. & Tyler, B. D. (2017, June). Rivalry in Major League Soccer: Antecedents to rival fan discrimination. Research presented at the Annual Conference for the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM), Denver, CO.
Sparks, D., Cobbs, J. B., Tyler, B. D., & Gardner, J. (2016, November). Measuring rivalry across professional leagues: Is animosity consistent across sports? Research presented at the Annual Conference for the Sport Marketing Association (SMA), Indianapolis, IN. Presentation slides
Folz, A., & Cobbs, J. (2016, November). The spoils of championships: Fan identification, envy, and rivalry. Research presented at the Annual Conference for the Sport Marketing Association (SMA), Indianapolis, IN. Poster (pdf)
Ditter, J., Cobbs, J., Tyler, B. D., & Nichols, B. S., (2016, November). Rivalry variation by geographic region: Are Canadians really more friendly? Research presented at the Annual Conference for the Sport Marketing Association (SMA), Indianapolis, IN. Presentation slides
Tyler, B. D., & Cobbs, J. (2016, August). Why is rivalry important to college football fans? A comparative analysis of 12 elements. Research presented at the Summer Educators Conference for the American Marketing Association (AMA), Atlanta, GA.
Tyler, B. D. & Cobbs, J. B. (2014, May). Visualizing rivalry intensity: A Social Network Analysis of fan perceptions. Research presented at the meeting of the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM), Pittsburgh, PA.
Full Abstract | Presentation Slides
Tyler, B. D. & Cobbs, J. B. (2009, October). Advancing toward an understanding of sport rivalry. Paper presented at the meeting of the Sport Marketing Association (SMA), Cleveland, OH.
Academic Course: Cobbs, J. B. (2015). Website for SpB 200: Rivalry & Ritual in International Sport
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