Cedarville men's basketball player dunking in a game against Lake Erie College in March 2019

Mom, Apple Pie, and Sports: Fandom Connects Us With Home

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by Tessa Landrum

Lorin BarnesWhen Lorin Barnes, a senior at Cedarville University, began interviewing sports fans for her qualitative research class, she was intrigued by the dedication they expressed for the hometown teams they cheered for in their childhoods. Her subsequent research earned the “Top Undergraduate Poster” award at the 2020 Ohio Communication Association (OCA) conference.

Barnes, a strategic communication major, named her emerging theory “Proud Roots Fandom.” She found that some people associate being a sports fan with childhood memories and the idea of home, leading fandom to become a part of their identities. Continuing to cheer for a hometown team, even after moving across the country or attending a rival university, reinforces this sense of identity.

“Sports fans attach fandom to their identity and strive to maintain it through the support of a sports team that feels like home,” said Barnes. “Proud Roots Fandom Theory shows how people develop this kind of sports fandom throughout their lifetimes.”

Dr. Andrew Harris, associate professor of communication, encouraged Barnes to submit her research to OCA. After spending time outside of class working with Harris to fine-tune her study, Barnes designed a mock-up poster and submitted the summary of her findings to the OCA review committee.

Harris explained that expectations are high for applicants. “It is especially hard for undergraduates to get accepted because the standards are set with graduate-level research in mind,” said Harris.

Barnes was one of two Cedarville students to have submissions accepted by the OCA review committee. Kayla Stanley, a senior strategic communication major, also presented a research paper at the conference.

As one of numerous undergraduate students who submitted research at the conference, Barnes was surprised to be recognized with an award for her work.

“I was really excited when I found out I won,” said Barnes. “There were a lot of projects based on excellent research, so it felt really good to know that my work stood out to the judges.”

Harris affirmed that students like Barnes stand out because of the excellence and integrity they pour into their work.

“That’s why our communication majors are in such high demand as scholars and professionals,” said Harris. “Cedarville University has such an exceptional student body, and we in the communication department get a fair share of the university’s best and brightest.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Arts in Communication program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.