The Role Experimentation of Intercollegiate Student Athletes

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Patricia S. Miller University of Toronto

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Gretchen A. Kerr University of Toronto

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This study examined the role experimentation of university student athletes using in-depth interviews. The results revealed participants’ role experimentation was limited to three spheres: athletic, academic, and social. Participants’ exploration of and commitment to roles revealed a two-stage model of identity formation. The first stage, Over-Identification with the Athlete Role, revealed a singular focus on athletics that persisted throughout much of the participants’ university careers. The second stage, Deferred Role Experimentation, reflected an increased investment in academic and social roles in the participants’ upper years. Results were consistent with previous findings of an athletic identity among intercollegiate student-athletes (Brewer, Van Raalte, & Linder, 1993), but supported Perna, Zaichkowsky, and Bocknek’s (1996) suggestion that identity foreclosure may have been overgeneralized.

Patricia S. Miller and Gretchen A. Kerr are with the Faculty of Physical Education and Health at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 2W6. Electronic mail can be sent to trish.miller@utoronto.ca.

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