Identification in Sport and Religion: Exploring the Overlap Between Two Group Identities

Keevan M. Statz
Elizabeth B. Delia
and Brian S. Gordon

The potential link between sport team identity and religious identity has been recognized for decades, but minimal empirical work has examined the phenomenon. Using social identity theory and social identity complexity as a theoretical lens, this study provides both practitioners and academics with insights on the relationship between religious identification and team identification. Using a qualitative methodology, interviews were conducted with 15 individuals who highly identify with both a sport team and their religion. Among all participants, we discovered that religious identification is prioritized over team identification. Participants consistently stated that although their sport team fandom was an important part of their self-concept, religion was the most important component of who they are. Th is work expands upon the extant literature in sport management and religiosity, providing insight into the way consumers behave when considering multiple group affiliations.