Disengagement from sport is examined from a phenomenological perspective. This perspective permits committed adult athletes to explain in their own time and their own words why they ceased participating in formally organized competitive sport. Thirty-four former advanced and elite athletes were interviewed. The constructed case study method provides the opportunity to examine causal relationships among all factors leading to disengagement from sport, and follows a “holistic” method of analyzing interviews (cognitive mapping). Former athletes identified the problem of settling into a job and financial constraints as the primary factors influencing their disengagement from sport. Most athletes left sport voluntarily and experienced elements of rebirth rather than social death.
Konstantinos Koukouris is with the Department of Physical Education, Aristotle’s University of Salonica, Salonica GR-54006, Greece.