Previous research has suggested the potential for enduring and influential messages (otherwise known as memorable messages) to serve as mechanisms of athlete socialization but has failed to explore how these messages might help athletes adjust to their teams. This study used open-ended questionnaires to explore how the memorable messages that Division-I student-athletes receive before their college career influence them before and after they join their teams, as well as the associations between message content and function. The results of this study indicate that memorable messages shape student-athletes’ attitudes, expectations, and participative decisions before beginning their college careers and their attitudes, relationships, and performance once they began their careers. However, few associations between message content and functions were observed, and no associations between student-athletes’ sex and sport type with message functions were observed. These results highlight the role of discourse in sport socialization by revealing that specific messages help prepare and acclimate student-athletes for college athletics. However, this study fails to provide insight into why specific functions might occur.
The author is with the Dept. of Communication, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.