Title: “Intercollegiate Student-Athletes’ Transitions out of Sport”
Supervisor: Dr. Peter Crocker (Kinesiology)
Second Reader: Dr. Carolyn McEwen (Kinesiology)
Abstract: Student-athletes represent a unique portion of the university population. These individuals often struggle to balance the competing roles of student and athlete, which can cause difficulties as their sport careers come to an end. This exit from the world of competitive sport is known as a transition, which is viewed as an ongoing process as opposed to a sudden event. Research has shown that athletes in general face difficulties when transitioning out of competitive sport. This may be due to several reasons, most notably a strong athletic identity, a loss of control, the removal of a social support system, disruption of body image and physical capabilities, and a lack of planning for post-sport life. The severity of these issues is heavily reliant on the circumstances surrounding the transition, which can occur voluntarily by free choice, or involuntarily due to factors such as injury, deselection, or age.
While much of the research has focused on the sport retirement of professional and Olympic-level athletes, less is known about the experiences of student-athletes upon transition out of sport. The existing research has shown varying results, as some student-athletes successfully adapt to life after sport, while others struggle well beyond graduation. This paper will outline what is known thus far about the experiences of student-athletes when transitioning out of sport. It will also explore how aspects of student-athlete life relate to the experiences of elite athletes in the hopes of identifying potential causes of difficult transitions. It is the aim of this paper to provide a richer understanding of the student-athlete experience and to offer recommendations for Canadian post-secondary institutions at the USports level to not only ease, but also enhance the transition process for student-athletes.