Narratives of Athletic Identity After Acquiring a Permanent Physical Disability

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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  • 1 Queen’s University
  • | 2 University of Manitoba
  • | 3 Loughborough University
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Individuals with acquired physical disabilities report lower levels of athletic identity. The objective of this study was to further explore why athletic identity may be lost or (re)developed after acquiring a physical disability. Seven women and four men (range = 28–60 years) participated in approximately 1-hour-long semi-structured interviews; data were subjected to a narrative analysis. The structural analysis revealed three narrative types. The nonathlete narrative described physical changes in the body as reasons for diminished athletic identity. The athlete as a future self primarily focused on present sport behavior and performance goals such that behavior changes diminished athletic identity. The present self as athlete narrative type focused on the aspects of their present sport involvement, such as feedback from other athletes and skill development, which supported their athletic identity. Implications of these narrative types with respect to sport promotion among people with acquired physical disabilities are discussed.

Marie-Josée Perrier is with the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Brett Smith is with Loughborough University in Loughborough, UK. Shaelyn M. Strachan is with the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Amy E. Latimer-Cheung is with the Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Marie-Josée Perrier at