The Psychological Meaning of Team Among Fans of Women’s Sport

in Journal of Sport Management
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To date, almost all team identification inquiries have focused on men’s sport, with minimal studies using women’s sport to examine the concept. Recognizing social identities are fluid and context dependent, the purpose of the current study was to understand the psychological meaning of team among individuals who identify with a women’s sport team. Using an interpretive mode of inquiry, the author conducted interviews with fans of a professional women’s basketball team. Central elements of team meaning were gender equality (contributing to social change) and pure sport (perceptions of game play and player characteristics). These aspects jointly contribute to a paradox experienced by fans, in that perceived purity may be sacrificed in realizing social change. Theoretical implications include the ability of teams to represent social movement organizations, as well as the need for individuals to shed status-irrelevant aspects of an identity to raise a low-status group.

Delia (edelia@isenberg.umass.edu) is with the Department of Sport Management, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA.

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