We examined the effect of corporate renaming of a stadium on fans’ felt anger and perceived harm to the team’s distinctiveness by asking participants to imagine that their historic local sport venue was renamed (or not) after a large corporation or a wealthy individual. Participants reported more perceived harm to the team’s distinctiveness when a corporation (vs. individual) donated money to the team. Furthermore, participants who thought that the venue name had been changed (compared with no name change) expressed more anger and perceived the name change to be a threat to the team’s distinctiveness. A mediated moderation analysis showed that, compared with when the stadium name remained the same, highly identified fans believed the name change would harm the distinctiveness of the team, which resulted in greater felt anger. In line with social identity theory, the results show that anger is an emotional outcome of recently experienced distinctiveness threat.
Reysen and Snider are with the Dept. of Psychology, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Commerce, TX. Branscombe is with the Dept. of Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.