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Craig Hyatt

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William M. Foster and Craig Hyatt

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.

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Andre M. Andrijiw and Craig G. Hyatt

In an attempt to understand the lived experiences of those individuals who grew up within the fan region of one professional hockey team yet chose instead to identify with a nonlocal alternative, the authors interviewed 20 Ontario (Canada) based fans of distant National Hockey League teams. Utilizing Brewer’s (1991, 2003) theory of optimal distinctiveness to examine the stories of participants, it was found that these fans maintained their team allegiances over time because doing so allowed them to achieve feelings of both uniqueness and belongingness. Sport managers can help facilitate feelings of belongingness by utilizing various communication and marketing strategies to better recognize and include their distant fans. Such strategies should ultimately result in the strengthening of the fan-team bond.

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Craig G. Hyatt and William M. Foster

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.

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Craig Hyatt, Shannon Kerwin, Larena Hoeber and Katherine Sveinson

While the sport fan literature suggests that it is common for parents to socialize their children to cheer for specific sports and teams, recent literature proposes that children can socialize their parents into changing the parents’ sport fandom in a process sociologists and consumer behavior researchers refer to as reverse socialization. To ascertain whether children can socialize and influence their parents’ sport fandom, 20 sport fan parents were interviewed. Evidence of reverse socialization was found in 15 of the participants, manifesting itself in ways that can be categorized as either developing new or additional fandom, or changing one’s behaviors or attitudes towards their existing fandom. However, further exploration of the data suggests that future research reexamine the term “reverse socialization,” as we do not see this as a directionality of influence, but as children as socializing agents.