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Joon Sung Lee, Dae Hee Kwak and Jessica R. Braunstein-Minkove

Athlete endorsers’ transgressions pose a dilemma for loyal fans who have established emotional attachments toward the individual. However, little is known regarding how fans maintain their support for the wrongdoer. Drawing on moral psychology and social identity theory, the current study proposes and examines a conceptual model incorporating athlete identification, moral emotions, moral reasoning strategies, and consumer evaluations. By using an actual scandal involving an NFL player (i.e., Ray Rice), the results show that fan identification suppresses the experience of negative moral emotions but facilitates fans’ moral disengagement processes, which enables fans to support the wrongdoer. Moreover, negative moral emotions motivate the moral coupling process. Findings contribute to the sport consumer behavior literature that highly identified fans seem to regulate negative emotions but deliberately select moral disengagement reasoning strategies to maintain their positive stance toward the wrongdoer and associated brands.

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Matthew Katz and Bob Heere

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.

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Yonghwan Chang, Daniel L. Wann and Yuhei Inoue

identification with a specific team or team identification (team ID). In other words, those who have a stronger team ID (i.e., individuals perceive themselves as fans of the team and view the team as a representation of themselves; Branscombe & Wann, 1992 ) are more likely to experience the state of being in

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Theresa A. Walton and Jennifer L. Fisette

We used ethnographic methods to examine the ways that adolescent girls (n=9) defined and understood themselves as individuals and in relation to cultural identities. We utilized Cook-Sather’s (2002, 2006, 2007) theory of translation to make sense of their identification as an unfixed process of negotiation by centering their voices and revelations. While the girls struggled to articulate cultural identities in relation to themselves, they had clear notions of those identities and the social expectations associated to them. They noted the ways cultural identities could be both empowering and constricting. Moreover, we found that they understood and discussed cultural identities in relation to themselves and others in ways that both resisted and maintained social categories.

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Michael R. Real and Robert A. Mechikoff

The relationship between the media sports fan and the sporting event closely parallels the position of the ritual participant acting out a mythic celebration. Such identification between the viewer/participant and the event has been characterized as “deep play” by Geertz (1973). However, this fan experience in the modem era is shaped not just by human face-to-face interaction, as was Geertz’s famous Balinese cockfight; instead, a specific media technology and commercial advertising provide the structure through which the public accesses media sports. This study examines grounded data on audience size and composition, advertising, commercial infrastructure and incentives, and other institutional aspects of the political economy of mass-mediated sport. What do cultural and ritual theory contribute to our understanding of the mass-mediated sports experience of today’s “deep fan”?

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Brad D. Carlson and D. Todd Donavan

By integrating social identity theory with brand personality, the authors test a model of how perceptions of human brands affect consumer’s level of cognitive identification. The findings suggest that consumers view athletes as human brands with unique personalities. Additional findings demonstrate that athlete prestige and distinctiveness leads to the evaluation of athlete identification. Once consumers identified with the athlete, they were more likely to feel an emotional attachment to the athlete, identify with the athlete’s team, purchase team-related paraphernalia and increase their team-related viewership habits. The findings extend previous research on human brands and brand personalities in sports. Marketers can use the information gleaned from this study to better promote products that are closely associated with well-recognized and attractive athletes, thereby increasing consumer retail spending. In addition, the findings offer new insights to sports marketers seeking to increase team-related spectatorship by promoting the image of easily recognizable athletes.

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Stefan Lund and Tor Söderström

The purpose of this article is to explore whether context and coaching cultures influence coaches’ practical experience and their unarticulated and embodied knowledge, and thus their different ways of seeing and defining talent. Using a cultural sociological perspective, we challenge the commonly held assumption that talent identification is, or can be made into, a rational and objective process. Our interpretations and analyses are based upon interviews with 15 soccer coaches in four districts within the Swedish Football Association’s talent organization program. The results imply that coaches’ talent identification is guided by what feels “right in the heart and stomach”; but what feels right is greatly influenced by their experience of previous identifications, interpretations of what elite soccer entails, and the coaching culture in which they find themselves.

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Steve Swanson and Aubrey Kent

Team identification has been researched extensively from the perspective of the consumer. The current study proposes that employees working in professional sport may also be fans of their respective teams, and provides insight on the role of team identification in the workplace environment. Over 1100 business operations employees from the top profession sports leagues in North America participated, and results indicate that dual targets of identification exist simultaneously in this setting. Strong support is provided for the discriminant validity between organizational and team identification. Beyond the more established effects of organizational identification, the results provide evidence that team identification independently predicts key outcomes such as commitment, satisfaction, and motivation. The results add to the literature by introducing the concept of a sports team as an additional target of identification in the organizational context.

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Sean R. Sadri

The current study examined how article source, medium, and fan identification can all affect the credibility of sports articles. An online experiment was conducted, and participants read an article that was indicated to have originated from a mainstream sports Web site, a sports blog, a social-networking site, or a wire service. Analysis revealed that fan-identification level was an important factor in credibility ratings in which highly identified fans found sports articles to be significantly more credible than fans with low identification. Highly identified fans also rated the article as equally credible on all 3 Web sites. However, low-identification fans rated the mainstream sports Web site article as significantly more credible than the other 2. Article medium was not shown to have a significant influence on perceived credibility for either identification group. The implications of fan-identification level on the discrepancies in ratings of perceived credibility are explored.

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Shih-Hao Wu, Ching-Yi Daphne Tsai and Chung-Chieh Hung

This study extends literature on the effects of fan identification on fan loyalty, and antecedents that trigger such effects. This study incorporates trust, a key relationship marketing construct, in the sport industry. The relationship between trust and two other critical antecedents of sport fan loyalty, identification and vicarious achievement motive, is examined from the perspectives of both fan-player and fan-team. The results show that antecedents from distinct perspectives influence loyalty differently. Team identification (fan-team level) is the major determinant of fans’ repatronage intention, with trust in the team as the key driver. However, player identification (fan-player level) has an indirect effect, which must go through team identification to repatronage intention. Therefore, sport organizations are recommended to invest a substantial part of their resources on activities that generate long-term effects, such as trust in the team and team identification, rather than on short-term strategies such as attracting star players.