A test of the team identification – social psychological health model: Does being a fan of a local team matter?


The team identification-social psychological health model (Wann, 2006) proposes that highly-identified sport fans will experience greater feelings of social connectedness only if the teams they support are based locally. We conducted two studies to test this proposition and did not find any evidence to support it. In Study 1, undergraduate sport fans (N = 291) completed an online survey and reported their favourite team, their level of fan identification, and the extent to which they derive social connections from their fandom. Teams were coded as being either local or non-local based on geographical location. In Study 2, we replicated the design of Study 1 with a sample of sport fans recruited online (N = 432). But rather than assess team localness based on geographical location, we asked fans to report the extent to which they perceived their favourite team as being a local team. In both studies, we found that team identification was associated with greater feelings of social connectedness (Study 1: r = .334; Study 2: r = .542). This positive association, however, was not moderated by team localness in either study. These results mean that the social benefits of being a highly identified sport fan are not limited to those who support local teams. We speculate that advances in technology (e.g., social media, live-sport streaming) now allow modern sport fans to have many virtual ways to establish connections with others, regardless of where the teams they support are located.

Acknowledgments: Research Manitoba; SSHRC