A Shattered Dream: Meaning Construction in Response to Retirement From Professional Sport Due to Career-Ending Injury

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The purpose of this study was to reveal the meanings Israeli athletes construct of their retirement from professional sport due to career-ending injury through the prism of constructivist theories. This qualitative study was designed in line with the principles and guidelines of interpretive phenomenological analysis. The sample comprised 12 professional athletes who retired as a result of career-ending injuries and participated in in-depth semistructured interviews. Findings indicate that the shattering nature of the experience of retirement under such circumstances severely damaged participants’ subjective system of meaning and thereby disrupted the coherence of their life narrative. Consequently, participants were required to create meanings of their experience of retirement and to reauthor their life narrative. The results yielded 3 main themes: degradation, void, and ambiguity. A broader theoretical understanding of athletes’ experience is suggested.

The authors are with the Dept. of Social Work, Ariel University, Ariel, Israel.

Pitcho-Prelorentzos (shani.pitcho@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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