A de-escalation of team fandom model was created based on identity work theory. To both test the model and understand how once highly identified fans of sports teams could eventually become non-fans, 23 former fans of National Hockey League (NHL) teams were interviewed. The reasons given for their de-escalation in fandom can be categorized into seven themes: sport in general, the sport of hockey, the league, the team, individual players, media, and life. For those fans who remain fans of the sport, watching national teams play in international competition has been a common practice in the years since the bond with their former favorite NHL team was severed. While only a minority of participants believes it realistically possible they could ever become NHL team fans again in the future, some suggested their children or grandchildren might pull them back into fandom.
Craig G. Hyatt is with the Department of Sport Management, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. William M. Foster is with the Department of Social Sciences, University of Alberta–Augustana Campus, Camrose, Alberta, Canada.