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Perceived organizational support of collegiate student-athletes transitioning out of sport and the influence on life satisfaction

10 July 2015


Retirement from competitive collegiate athletics can create a unique challenge for student-athletes. Throughout sport participation, student-athletes are not able to devote as much time and energy to developing interpersonal, academic, and life skills outside of their sport. Individuals with a one-dimensional self-identity as an athlete are at higher risk of struggling to transition out of sport, especially if they are separated from participation due to non-normative causes such as injury, academic reasons, or being cut from the team. The purpose of the study is to evaluate whether retiring student-athletes experience decreased life satisfaction due to the cause of retirement from sport and perceived organizational support from their academic institution. A nationwide sample included 71 participants from all three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) divisions. Student-Athletes that have retired in the past 12 months provided demographic information and responded to surveys detailing their utilization of support services, athletic self-appraisal (ASAS), athletic identity (AIMS), satisfaction with life (SWLS), perceived organizational support (SPOS), and significant life events (LESCA). The results indicated significant SPOS score differences between student-athletes that utilized support services (career services, meeting with coaches, counseling services, sport psychology consulting, lecture on student-athlete retirement, or group meeting with other retiring student-athletes) versus those who did not utilize support services. Student-athletes noted an increased need for support services to help them transition out of sport indicating greatest interest in: career planning (54%), meeting with retiring student-athletes (51%), sport psychology services (39%), and class/lecture on student-athlete retirement (38%). No significant differences were found between scholarship status (full/partial or none), Division (I, II, or III), or sport (volleyball, track/cross-country, or swimming/diving) on the ASAS, AIMS, SWLS, SPOS, or LESCA. Limitations to the present study are discussed and suggestions for future research are provided.


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