A people’s history of the Portland Thorns: Social psychological perspectives on fandom and the most popular women’s team in the world
Dr. Andrew Guest
College of Arts and Science
By the metric of average home attendance, the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) are the most popular women's professional sports team in the world. This paper uses a mixed-methods case study of the Thorns, with an intentional focus on the fans and supporters culture rather than management and players, to analyze ways the Thorns relative success can inform women's sports advocates and sports studies scholars. Drawing on a combination of historical, socio-cultural, and psychological perspectives, we suggest that the particular fan culture in Portland provides foundations for a type of agentic, inclusive, and values-based fandom that fits well with women's soccer in North America. Combined with a professional environment, high-level soccer, and intentional support for women's opportunities, this type of Thorns fandom provides an example of how hybrid and counter-gehemonic sport cultures can gain popular appeal and inform understandings of sports fandom more broadly.
Sports spectators; Social groups--Psychological aspects; Women soccer fans
Citation: Pilot Scholars Version (Modified MLA Style)
Luijten, Anne, "A people’s history of the Portland Thorns: Social psychological perspectives on fandom and the most popular women’s team in the world" (2016). Psychological Sciences Undergraduate Publications, Presentations and Projects. 4.
A Summer Research Celebration Project
© 2016 The author