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Article Version


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This essay explores sports fandom through a Durkheimian theoretical framework that foregrounds the totemic link between civic collective and team symbol. Specifically, I analyze the myths, kinship, and rituals of Philadelphia Phillies fans during their historic 2008 World Series victory in the U.S.’ professional baseball league using a limited participant observation of beliefs and behaviors on display at public events and articulated through the sports media. I argue that the totem’s success offered a momentous opportunity for intense social unity and reaffirmed group ideals—at both the civic and kin level—and mirrored a quasi-religious functionality at a moment of declining integrative institutions. The “collective effervescence” and communitas generated during this period represented a celebration of identity and indexed solidarity. The rituals attendant to the actual sports event are, I argue, as essential as what happens on the field, for these rituals preserve the collective memory that upholds the totem and, in turn, the group.


Copyright 2013 Sage Publications

Publication Title

Communication and Sport

Published Citation

Serazio, Michael. (2013). "The elementary forms of sports fandom: A Durkheimian exploration of team myths, kinship, and totemic rituals." Communication and Sport, 1(4), 303-325. DOI: 10.1177/2167479512462017



Peer Reviewed