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Fanning the Flames

Fanning the Flames
By France Griggs Sloat

Christian End is a sports fan. He’s also a psychologist. So in the wake of Sept. 11, the 1996 honors graduate decided to do a little research on the use of war analogies in sports—like “battle in the trenches”—and the attacks’ impact on fan intent to attend sporting events. What he found was the attacks created an even greater chasm between sports fans and non-fans. Sports fans were more comfortable with the terminology than non-fans. And non-fans planned to attend even fewer games, while fans were determined to increase their attendance.

“They really seemed to hype up the idea of not letting it interfere with their lives or the terrorists will win,” End says. “For a lot of people, the events of Sept. 11 made them think about what’s important. And for some, that came down to their identification with a sports team.”

For his own part, the Milwaukee-born End, now an assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Rolla, admits to being a dedicated fan with a passion for Xavier’s men’s basketball team, and, he says, Sept. 11 had little impact on his intent to attend sporting events—at least some events. “No matter how much I identified with being a fan,” he says, “I wasn’t going to start going to UC games just to spite terrorists.”

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