Hua Gong

Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

First Advisor

Matt Brown

Second Advisor

Nick Watanabe


This dissertation studies the impact of consumer perceptions of tanking on National Basketball Attendance (NBA) attendance. The prevalence of tanking in the NBA raised concerns that some teams were purposely avoiding winning games in order to improve their draft position. The majority of previous studies on tanking have focused on developing empirical evidence of the existence of tanking in sport. Yet, no study systematically explored the impact of perceived tanking behavior on consumer demand for sport. As tanking teams rarely reveal their tanking strategy to the public, fans may not correctly identify tanking behavior in sport, and thus are likely to rely on their perceptions of tanking to make attendance decisions. The current dissertation employs tanking discussions on the social media platform Twitter along with data mining tools to quantify consumer perceptions of tanking. Econometric models are then utilized to analyze the effect of the perceived tanking behavior on demand for NBA games. The estimation results provide robust evidence that the increasing awareness of tanking for home teams hurts NBA attendance in both the short and long term. This dissertation also reveals that more negative attitudes toward visiting teams’ tanking behavior can undermine consumer interest in attending NBA games. These findings offer important managerial implications on the urgency of restraining tanking behavior as well as the importance of maintaining integrity in sports competitions.