When it comes to fans of professional sport teams who are left behind when their favorite team relocates to a new city, the authors argue that there are a variety of ways in which these fans can identify with the relocated team. This runs against the traditional conception of how left-behind fans view the franchise in its new home. Fans are thought to follow two paths: They either cheer for the team in the new city, or they stop cheering for the team altogether. The authors have found that this conception of fans is inadequate. Using the expanded model of organizational identification (EMOI), the authors find that after a team relocates there are at least five different ways a fan can identify with the relocated team: identification, disidentification, schizoidentification, neutral identification, and nonidentification. These are illustrated by fitting the stories of 23 Hartford Whalers fans into the model.
Foster is with the Augustana Faculty, University of Alberta, Camrose, Alberta T4V 2R3, Canada. Hyatt is with the Dept. of Sport Management, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1, Canada.