Anne Luijten

Publication Date


Faculty Advisor

Dr. Andrew Guest


College of Arts and Science


Psychological Sciences


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

Publication Information

A Summer Research Celebration Project

© 2016 The author

Document Type

Student Project

Included in

Psychology Commons