Meet incoming Sport Management Professor Benjamin Larkin
Although all of incoming Assistant Professor of Sport Management Ben Larkin’s higher education has been in New England, he was born in New York and admits to being a New York Yankees and New York Jets fan. His academic research focuses on relationships between fans and sports teams. Larkin expects to receive a Ph.D. this spring from the Department of Sport Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst. He holds an M.S. in sport management from Southern New Hampshire University and a B.S. in business administration from the University of Maine.
Can you describe why the consumption of sport events through mass media has become the new “home” field advantage?
My early research looked at the factors influencing fans to prefer watching sport events at home to attending them live at the stadium/arena. Not surprisingly, cost was a major factor, but factors such as the comfort of home, ease of watching on one’s own couch as opposed to making the trip to the stadium, and technological advancements that have closed the gap between the home experience and the stadium experience have also served to motivate an increase in remote consumption. While the stadium atmosphere is still viewed as irreplaceable by many, the home experience is an increasingly appealing alternative.
Do millennials consume sports media differently than other generations?
It’s been suggested that the increase in media usage among millennials has cut into attendance at sporting events, but findings in this regard have been inconclusive. I conducted a study to explore how media usage among this segment could serve as both a complement to traditional attendance behavior – i.e., they use it to enhance their viewing experience, whether watching at home or the stadium – as well as potentially a substitute – i.e., they consume through media as opposed to attending the event.
Your dissertation explores the role of collective narcissism in sport team identification. Is it easy to put that in the context of New England sports fans?
In the context of sport, collective narcissism refers to a type of fandom characterized by an unrealistic perception of the greatness of the team. Effectively, fans put the team on a pedestal, and as a result they are oversensitive to criticism of the team. I do think we see this a lot in New England, particularly in fans of the New England Patriots. My research to this point shows that collectively narcissistic sport fans typically view the team as being unique and distinct from other teams in the league and constantly under scrutiny from the national media and fans of other teams, two traits that I think are characteristic of Patriots fans.
What’s your classroom style?
I’ll spend roughly half of a class period explaining concepts, actively eliciting student input in the discussion of these concepts, before working on an activity that allows students to apply lessons learned. I am a big fan of group work, as I feel students should be a resource for one another. Often times, discussing concepts among themselves forces them to think critically about the material in a way that a lecture does not. That is my goal – to get them to think critically.
When you’re not teaching, doing research, or writing, what will you be doing?
My wife and I recently had our first child. He’s 6 months old, so much of my time these days is occupied there. More generally, we love traveling. We’ve been to a number of different countries, some of my favorites being New Zealand, Iceland, Ireland, Italy and Greece. I have also gotten into long-distance running. I completed my first marathon in 2014.
What attracted you to Merrimack College?
When I visited the campus, I absolutely fell in love with the culture. It is a collaborative, stimulating, and inclusive environment that, in my opinion, strikes an ideal balance between commitment to teaching and research.