A Phenomenological Study Exploring Coping Responses Of Retired NCAA Athletes

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Introduction and Review of Literature
It is the month of December or May in any given year. The final lineup for the game or match has been created and the competition begins. As teams face off, focus on the task at hand is where the athlete’s attention is centered. As the game or match draws to a close, one is victorious and accomplishes the master goal of winning a national championship. What occurs the following day, after the competition is over and the crowd’s roars dim? After facing this question personally, my interest lies on further exploration of this career termination process and how others are coping with it.
As the famous saying states, “All good things must come to an end”, this holds true with collegiate athletics.
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However, very little research has been conducted upon career termination. In turn, the purpose of this study is to explore how retired college athletes are coping with the loss of their sport(s).
For many athletes, playing a sport throughout life has been a way of gaining social support, creating an identity, relieving stress, exercising, and they create “athletic tunnel vision.” Within a team, there are numerous members who in college, one may consider family. For a normal range of four to five years, the individuals you spend the most time with are teammates and coaches. When eligibility ends and one cleans out their assigned locker, there is a desperate cry for social support. In any other circumstances gaining this social support would be successful, but there is a sense of detachment from one’s peers, sport, and coaches (). According to () one of the most difficult things the retired athlete will face is if one’s support system are still engaged on the team (playing time is remaining for them) while one is left alone to face “the real world” for the first time. Reaching out to those who have not faced reality outside of sports is often unsuccessful and may leave the retired athlete confused.
Creating an identity outside of sport is a difficult concept to grasp and does not happen immediately. For as long as one can remember, “It is not about the name on the back of your jersey but on the front of your jersey.” For many years now, the athlete is

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