Impact of Team Identification on College Adjustment in Division II College Students

Evan A. Davis – The Ohio State University
Richard Hsiao – Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Leeann M. Lower-Hoppe – The Ohio State University
James O. Evans – Viterbo University
Elaine A. Blair – Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Robert E. Alman – Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Intercollegiate athletics are often praised for the intangible benefits they provide their institutions, such as improving the sense of community on campus. Research on team identification has shown that students who highly identify with their teams are likely to have improved self-esteem and social capital, which help them adjust to college life. The purpose of this study was to add to previous findings, by exploring how team identification affected students’ personal self-esteem, social adjustment, and emotional adjustment to college, in the Division II context. The Division II context was chosen due perceived differences in student attachment to athletic teams at lower levels of collegiate athletics. Data were collected from undergraduate students at a Division II university and analyzed through confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling. Findings indicated that team identification did not affect a students’ personal self-esteem, social adjustment, or emotional adjustment, however personal self-esteem had a positive impact on students’ social and emotional adjustment to college. These findings have serious implications for Division II administrators, regarding the value of intercollegiate athletics in serving the broader campus community and what can be done to create more engaging spectating experiences.