The image of sports figures has become an important issue for media and communication research. Nevertheless, even if several studies in the literature focus on the idea of stardom in sports, most of them concern athletes who are well-appreciated by their fans. Rare are the studies dealing with sports figures who are depreciated. This research demonstrates the strong influence of fans' ideal self-images and motives for playing a sport on the evaluative reaction toward these icons. The researchers surveyed 878 adolescents, a representative sample of youth from Southern France. Their motives for playing a sport were evaluated by the QSMP2001, a validated instrument that measures the “distinctiveness”, the “sociability” and the “play to the limits” dimensions. Qualifying variables included age, gender and status. Results indicate that depreciated sports figures are disparaged because they do not adhere to the fans’ ideal self-images. This paper could inform marketers as they make decisions about product endorsement by sports superstars.
Key words: Stardom, celebrities, sports figures, preferences, motivation.
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