College Students' Perceptions of University Identification and Football Game Day Attire

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to determine the rationale behind football game day attire and to establish whether organizational identification, perceived organizational prestige, and game day participation influenced clothing choice. By identifying the game day clothing habits of female college students attending Division I-A schools throughout the United States, four factors (fashion consciousness, desire for comfort, desire for uniqueness, and spirit-seeking behavior) were found to influence game day attire. Football game day participation was found to be the strongest predictor of football clothing choice.

It was not until 1869 that the first intercollegiate football game was played between Princeton and Rutgers. Today, almost 100 years since the inception of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), the sport of football flourishes as one of the most popular and most profitable of collegiate games. For the first time in a decade, college football moved ahead of the NBA as America's third most favorite sport (McClain, 2004). College football has also become big business, generating millions of dollars for universities and colleges each year (Spaulding & Eddy, 1996).

Under NCAA guidelines, colleges and universities are placed into three divisions (I, II, III) according to school size and number and types of sports played. Division I (D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the NCAA. Schools that have football programs are further divided into Division I-A or Division I-AA. D-IA schools are the major collegiate powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities, and higher number of athletic scholarships. Smaller schools which sponsor fewer sports and draw smaller crowds are placed into one of the two remaining divisions, with Division III schools offering no financial aid related to students' athletic ability (The National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2005).

Each division is made up of many conference groups, which are determined primarily by history and location. Although rules and regulations are uniform throughout, rituals, practices, and fans differ according to the country region in which a school is located. Therefore, attending a college football game becomes a cultural experience depending on where the game is played. Because clothing is a major outlet for demonstrating school spirit, it would be expected that game day attire would also differ according to region and would depend on the rituals, practices, and fans of the college/university being represented. By identifying the game day clothing habits of female college students attending Division I-A schools throughout the United States, this study attempts to determine whether significant game day apparel differences exist among Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conferences.

Division I-A schools are divided into the following six conferences: Southeastern Conference (SEC), Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big East Conference, Big 12 Conference, Big 10 Conference, and the PAC-10 Conference. Data were gathered from one school in each of the six conferences (see Table 1). As much as possible, larger schools with historically strong football organizations were chosen. The 2004 post season standings indicate that each school chosen for the current study finished within the top half of each of their respective conferences.

Organizational Identification

Organizational Identification, which has firm roots in the social identity theory (Tajfel, 1978; Tajfel & Turner, 1979), is concerned with the perception of 'oneness' with a particular organization (Ashforth & Mael, 1989; Mael & Ashforth, 1992). Identification with an organization often involves the perception of shared prototypical characteristics, virtues and flaws (Weinreich, 1983), and allows a person to perceive him or herself as psychologically intertwined with the fate of the group, thereby sharing in successes and failures, and common destinies. …


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