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.
|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|
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