The Ties That Bind: Examining Division I Athletics as a Social Anchor

Peyton J. Stensland – University of Cincinnati
Olzhas Taniyev – Roanoke College
Zach Scola – University of New Hampshire
Farah J. Ishaq – State University of New York College at Cortland
Zach Wilkerson – University of Kansas
Brian S. Gordon – University of Kansas


Given the important role Division I athletics play on a college campus as well as in the community it resides, the purpose of this study was to examine how the perceived relationship quality of two potential social anchors, a state flagship university and a Division I athletics department, dually impacts social capital and community identification among both students (N = 423) and community members (N = 202) alike. The findings support the main purpose of social anchors, which are described as constructing a deep sense of community and trust within a community’s social networks (Clopton & Finch, 2011). The university acted as a social anchor when all the respondents were combined as well as singularly in the community and university context respectively. Most importantly for the field of sport management, the authors found the athletics department at this university was an effective social anchor among all respondents as well as within the singular student setting but not for the singular community context. This study has a practical application as it provides convincing evidence that the university and its athletics department uniquely benefit the students and community members.