Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Health, Sport and Exercise Science (PhD)

Degree Level



Health, Human Performance and Recreation


Merry Moiseichik

Committee Member

Stephen Dittmore

Second Committee Member

Wen Juo Lo

Third Committee Member

Leah Jean Henry

Fourth Committee Member

Kim Stauss


Acculturation, Fan Identification, International Student, Sense of Community, Social Capital


According to the number provided by the International Institute of Education (IIE), there are over one million international students enrolled in the United States. Although the number of international students is increasing, the incremental rate started to decrease after reaching its peak in the 2017-2018 academic year. While previous studies focused on the role of leisure activities, such as physical activity participation, to analyze how international students can receive social support from their communities to better acculturate in the U.S., this study focused on the role of spectator sports on providing social support and its effect on international student’s acculturation. Four hundred eighty-seven international students enrolled in 25 Power-5 affiliated colleges participated in this study to analyze the acculturation path model suggested by the primary researcher. The initial path model did not show a statistically significant model fit, which led to modifying the model once following the available theory in academia. As a result, international students’ fan identification for their college sports team showed a statistically significant effect on their social capital and a sense of community. International students’ social capital and a sense of community showed a statistically significant effect on their acculturation in the U.S. Participants’ sense of community also significantly affected their social capital. Finally, fan identification had an indirect effect on acculturation through a sense of community and on both sense of community and social capital. Discussions, future research options on utilizing spectator sports to promote international students’ acculturation, and limitations of the study were provided.