An Exploration of Career Ending Sporting Injury and the Loss of Athletic Identity in One Elite Rugby Player.
University of Wales
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The purpose of this study was to explore one elite athlete’s experience of a career terminating sporting injury and its effects on athletic identity. The participant experienced a spinal cord injury whilst playing rugby union approximately ten years ago leaving the individual defining himself as disabled. Through means of a case study, using an interview technique, the research aimed at discovering whether athletic identity can re-establish many years post injury, additionally, if an individual is still heavily involved within the sport but evidently not competing, what are the implications with regards to identity. Additionally, what the effects of spinal cord injuries are on the athletic body and ‘masculinity’ of an elite athlete involved in what is classed as a ‘masculine’ sport. Post interview it became clear that athletic identity can re-establish if one is still involved in the same sport. Although, this depends on how sport fitted in to ones life prior to injury and whether the individual felt that being an athlete was the only identity they possessed. In this case the individual possessed more than one identity prior to injury, additionally in the medical field, thus to some extent protecting his athletic identity during the transition out of elite sports. Future suggestions for this research highlight an investigation in to retirement experiences of a female elite athlete, in order to discover the effects of a career terminating sporting injury on femininity and their ‘masculine’ selves. Keywords: Identity. Athletic Identity. Masculinity. Body. Injury. Retirement.
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