College Football Player Transitions Out of Their Sport: A Qualitative Exploration

Taylor Payne – University of Texas at Austin
Andrew Driska – Michigan State University

The processes of identity management and career transition from sport appear idiosyncratic. Previous research has shown that identity foreclosure and strong athletic identity can complicate transition out of sport (Park et al., 2013; Sparkes, 1998). The literature has shown that social support can make career transition more adaptive and cause less psychological strain for athletes (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985; Fuller, 2014; Park et al., 2013). It is the job of those in student-support services to help student-athletes prepare for a world after sport. High impact practices (HIP) are an empirically supported way to go about this. This study sought to understand the transition experiences of six former Division I football student-athletes and how their social support networks and athletic identity influenced their transition, using in-depth interview based-qualitative methods. Four key findings arose: (a) management of social support networks and transition experiences, (b) transition experiences and timing of career exploration, (c) personal value of athletic identity was related to environmental reinforcement, and (d) role conflict and identity management. Implications for researchers and practitioners are discussed.