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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Journey Through No-Man's Land: A Phenomenological Study of NFL Free-Agent Players' Transition Experience from Active NFL Player to Retired NFL Player
by Davis, Donald E., Jr., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2021, 206; 28151639
Abstract (Summary)

The transition from professional sport marks the beginning of what has been found to be a difficult and stressful experience (Park, Lavallee, & Todd, 2013). Exiting a career serves as a major life change that requires one to adjust to numerous changes (Erpic, Wylleman, & Zupancic, 2004). Research has highlighted a number of personal and contextual factors that affect the quality of the transition experience (Knights, Sherry, & Ruddock-Hudson, 2016; Park et al., 2013); however, no studies to date have examined players who are in the midst of the transition.

This qualitative, phenomenological study was undertaken to address the research question: What is the lived experience of NFL free-agent players as they transition from an active NFL player to a retired NFL player? In-depth interviews completed with 12 NFL free-agent players found a three-phase process of transitioning, consisting of the initial reaction, “no-man’s land,” and the final realization. Six themes emerged that described the players’ experience: (1) participants identified a trigger event prior to deselection; (2) being deselected was sudden, leaving participants shocked, isolated, and angry; (3) the subsequent period was dynamic, emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally; (4) players reached a point of realization about their future; (5) the loss of the NFL community was a significant challenge; and (6) four protective factors helped participants. The study offers recommendations related to theory, practice, and future research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Goldman, Ellen
Commitee: Ali, Arshad, Mahler, Elizabeth
School: The George Washington University
Department: Human & Organizational Learning
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 82/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Occupational psychology, Mental health, Organizational behavior, Sports Management
Keywords: Professional Athletes, Retirement, Role Exit, Transition, NFL players
Publication Number: 28151639
ISBN: 9798684656965
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