Understanding the sociodemographic characteristics and motivations of participants in contemporary sports events is important for event organizers, host cities and tourist destinations who seek to acquire rights to organise sports events of various types. It is also important to know what functions sporting events have for fans—their needs, thanks to passive sports consumption, are now being met. This research was conducted to broaden knowledge about fan motivation of participation in individual high-performance and non-elite sport and to analyse the differences between them. The case study was a running event of mass character (the 6th edition of half-marathon held in Poznań, Poland) and a horseback riding elite event (“Cavaliada”, held in Poznań, Poland). The empirical research among fans of these disciplines conducted during popular running and horseback riding Polish events allowed to characterise the sociodemographic profile of fans of individual mass and elite sports and the motivations of passive sports consumption. The motives were divided into four groups connected with social, experiential, factual and results orientation. We used a standardised interview technique and diagnostic survey method. 1328 sports fans participated in our study (510 fans of half-marathon [non-elite sport] and 818 fans of Cavaliada [high performance sport]). We developed a self-constructed questionnaire according to the motivation typology of Freyer and Gross. Research results indicate that supporters of individual mass and elite sports have thoroughly different motivations. On 14 examined motives, 13 statistically significant differences were found. Moreover, the article presents the division of motivation among female and male supporters, young people, elderly people, local (hosts) and sport tourist supporters. The research has shown what the sociopsychological impact of watching sports competition on fans of various categories is. For example, what is the motivation of sports tourists (N = 764) to participate in mass and elite sports events. We also investigated the influence of participation in sporting events in the level of life satisfaction and the impact of running and horse event in destination image (Poznań) in the opinion of supporters.
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