Date Approved

6-30-1999

Embargo Period

8-2-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations

Department

Public Relations & Advertising

College

College of Communication & Creative Arts

First Advisor

FitzGerald, Suzanne Sparks

Subject(s)

Philadelphia Eagles (Football team)--Case studies; Football fans; Sports--Public relations

Disciplines

Public Relations and Advertising

Abstract

In professional sports, the field of public relations helps organizations foster positive relationships with their fans. But, when teams suffer losing seasons, recording more losses than wins, these relationships become strained.

The purpose of this study was to reveal how losing seasons affect the bond between professional sports teams and their fans. The results encourage sports relations practitioners to recognize fan needs and develop techniques that can help organizations maintain a more positive relationship with their fans during a losing season.

To examine the relationship between a professional sports team and its fans, this researcher traced the performance of the 1998-99 Philadelphia Eagles Football Team. Recording three wins and 13 losses, the organization clearly illustrated the effects of a losing season on sports fans. This researcher conducted content analyses of print and audio media and brief surveys to evaluate fan attitudes and behaviors during the season.

Findings indicate that fans experience frustration, lose team interest and become personally affected as their favorite team records a losing season. If employed, public relations techniques may effectively improve the strained bond and create a more positive relationship between sports organizations and their fans.

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