Three weeks following this nation’s divisive presidential election, millions of Americans set aside political differences and embraced something that offered a different kind of meaning: Super Bowl football. One of America’s largest annual social events, the Super Bowl unites people (with different political, religious, and economic viewpoints) to cheer on the team that’s linked to a personal identify they somehow can share. Banding together, this unlikely alliance supports their football team and practices the “rituals” that accompany membership in this community.
As a student of anthropology I took on an ethnography project — participating in field studies to analyze the social behaviors of college football fans. Over the course of a semester, I researched fan behaviors at both pre-game (during tailgate gatherings) events and during the games themselves. While I consider myself to be a pretty knowledgeable football fan, I soon discovered that I had a lot to learn about the meaning behind the social behaviors that sports enthusiasts (myself included) engage in. And the more I studied the more I wondered: Why do millions of Americans engage in the curious (and sometimes bizarre) gameday rituals for sports events?
I'm now looking for ways to apply these research methods to challenges in marketing and communications. Stay tuned for more on this interesting topic!