Date of Award

Summer 8-6-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


Planning and Urban Studies

Major Professor

Dr. Michelle M. Thompson

Second Advisor

Dr. Vern Baxter

Third Advisor

John DeShazier

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Gladstone


The purpose of this research is to analyze the dynamic processes of collective identity by examining the relationship between New Orleans and its professional football team, the Saints, after Hurricane Katrina. Much of the discourse written on American professional sports focuses on economic transactions between player and franchise or franchise and city. This study explores sports from a cultural perspective to understand the perceived social values provided to the host community. This case study spans the years from 2006 to 2013 and discusses several major events, including the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the reopening of the Superdome, the Saints winning a league championship and subsequent cheating scandal, and the city’s hosting of Super Bowl XLVII. Using a mixed-method approach of content analysis, in-person interviews, and participant observation, this research demonstrates how post-Hurricane Katrina events altered the collective identity in New Orleans. Additionally, it explores how the interaction of sports, identity, and ritual served to create a civic religion in New Orleans. Finally, the research examines the impact of this religious devotion on New Orleans’ tourist economy.


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