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John R. Mitrano

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John R. Mitrano

While researchers have examined the economic effects of sport franchise relocation on cities and municipalities, little research has explored the social psychological effects of relocation on the fans from the cities being abandoned. Through the use of “Virtual Participant Observation” and “Inter(net)viewing,” this paper examines the meanings fans attach to franchise relocation decisions and how they make sense of and adjust to the impending loss of a civic institution such as a sport franchise. The paper also examines the root metaphors created and used by fans in the expression of their feelings, experiences, and interpretations of (a) the relocation decision, (b) the relationship of the owners and team, and (c) the relationship of the fans and team. These metaphors enable fans to make sense of a particularly disruptive situation (i.e., franchise relocation)—a decision which violates normative American cultural assumptions, core tenets, and values.