University News

Expert on Marketing Sports to LGBTQ Community Discusses Power of Sports to Unite

Ceyda Mumcu, an authority on fan behavior, told NBC News that inviting Melissa Etheridge, a lesbian icon, to sing the national anthem at Sunday’s AFC championship game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs has the potential to change hearts and minds.

January 18, 2019

By Dave Cranshaw, Office of Marketing & Communications

Image of Ceyda Mumcu
Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D.

Ceyda Mumcu, a University of New Haven sport management professor who is an expert on marketing sports to the LGBTQ community, says the Kansas City Chiefs inviting Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge to sing the national anthem before the AFC title game on Sunday is especially notable because of the unique ability of sports to “unite people.”

“The Chiefs-Pats game will be a heavily-watched, attended game, and Melissa Etheridge’s performance will be a part of the game experience, which will spark conversations, allow interactions and change hearts and minds,” Mumcu told NBC News.

The LGBTQ sports site Outsports noted that the last time prior to this season that the Chiefs won an NFL playoff game was in 1993 — the same year Etheridge came out publicly.

"Our research will be used by other scholars to investigate the current and future marketing tactics implemented in the sport industry, and will be a resource to the industry.”Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D.

In 2017, Mumcu, a former member of the Turkish Women’s Professional Basketball League, was a co-author of the first study on marketing sports to LGBT fans.

The groundbreaking study on the WNBA’s 2014 Pride campaign – the first professional sport league in the U.S. to reach out specifically to LGBT fans – found that targeted marketing was valued by members of the LBGT community, a key market segment, and did not compromise perceptions of the WNBA brand among its heterosexual fan base.

Her research has been downloaded hundreds of times by higher education, commercial and governmental entities from nearly 30 countries.

“Major leagues in the U.S. and their franchises have started implemented marketing tactics to expand their fan bases, and, as part of this effort, they have pursued the LGBTQ segment explicitly,” says Mumcu. “These current tactics demonstrate the importance of our research and the positive findings revealed. Our research will be used by other scholars to investigate the current and future marketing tactics implemented in the sport industry, and will be a resource to the industry.”