The Effect of Career-Ending Injuries on the Subsequent Well-Being of Elite College Athletes

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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In a previous investigation of the factors that make for a satisfying “exit” from organized sport (Kleiber, Greendorfer, Blinde, & Samdahl, 1987), it was determined that the only predictor of life satisfaction in the years following departure from formal participation was whether one had sustained a career-ending injury. By examining degree of investment in playing professional sports and the academic orientation of that earlier sample, it was possible in the current study to refine the profile of those vulnerable to subsequent depression of well-being (as reflected in lower life satisfaction and self-esteem). Of athletes who had been injured, only those who had an investment in playing professional sport were likely to show lower selfesteem and life satisfaction 5 to 10 years later. The disruption to a “life narrative” that is suggested by these findings argues for a more interpretive approach to research on and treatment of injury and illness among athletes and others.

Douglas A. Kleiber is with the Dept. of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Hardman Hall, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. Stephen C. Brock is with the Dept. of Family Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, City Line Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19131.

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