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The authors examined the longitudinal development of team identification among stakeholders of a newly formed intercollegiate football team to empirically measure the impact of a new football team on university identification. Using a multidimensional approach to identification, data were collected over a 3-year period and analyzed using growth curve analysis to determine the changes and trajectories of the individual dimensions of identification related to both the new football team and the larger university. Conditional growth models were used to determine the percentage of change in university identification explained by changes in team identification—to test whether new team identification drives identification with the larger university. The presented findings allow for an improved understanding of the psychological impact of a new football team for the university community by using growth curve analysis, which provides a more detailed and accurate empirical examination of identification, rather than traditional two-wave cross-lagged designs. Implications of the longitudinal nature of identification and the psychological value of a new football team for the university are discussed.
Matthew Katz is with the Department of Sport Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Bob Heere is with the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management, University of South Carolina, Columbia.