Forced Retirement: The Effects of Ending Participation in Elite Collegiate Sport

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Murray, Erynn Ashley
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Middle Tennessee State University
Every elite intercollegiate student-athlete will face a forced retirement upon the ending of their NCAA career eligibility. It is hypothesized that many elite athletes identify as having strong and exclusive athletic identities. Identifying strongly or solely as an athlete may potentially make transitioning out of elite formal sport extremely difficult. Limited research has been conducted on the transitional experiences of team and individual sport athletes. The following research conducts a mixed-methods approach to analyze the retirement process and experiences of elite collegiate student-athletes. These findings build a foundation to further explore elite student-athlete’s transitional experiences and creates a quantitative direction to move towards. Elite student-athletes experience transitional effects upon exit from formal sport while also using various coping mechanisms to acclimate to new identities and roles the stronger their identity is tied to athletic performance.
Keywords: forced retirement, athletic identity, transitioning, elite collegiate sport
Athletic identity, Elite collegiate sport, Forced retirement, Transitioning