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The experience of withdrawing from professional sport Swain, Derek A. 1990

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THE EXPERIENCE OF WITHDRAWING FROM PROFESSIONAL SPORT By DEREK A. SWAIN B . A . , The Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1970 M . P . E . , The Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1977 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Counsel l ing Psychology) We accept th i s thes is as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH January 1990 (c) Derek Anthony Swain, COLUMBIA 1990 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Department Date DE-6 (2/88) ii ABSTRACT A case study approach was used to generate a description and an understanding of the experience of withdrawal from a career in professional sport. The informants were ten males who had withdrawn from their careers during the years from 1976 to 1987 inclusive. The informants were selected from team and individual sports, involving four key informants from each of hockey and thoroughbred horse racing, plus one subsidiary informant from each of football and racquetball. Narratives rich in description were derived from personal interviews and were validated by the respective informants. These narratives were synthesized into a general story of voluntary withdrawal from sport which reflects both common experience and turning points for varying plots. This general story was validated by the informants as well as an expert authority who has been professionally involved in sport for some thirty-six years. Withdrawal from sport was a process which frequently began soon after the athletes became engaged in the career. When confronted with a variety of catalytic events which reminded them that the career was short-term, they addressed the potential for withdrawal in varying fashion and typically re-immersed themselves in the career. The potential eventually became more immediate, more urgent but frequently arose in the context of an enlarged perspective on the self and the profession. Thus, they were confronted with both internal and external pressures for change. As they began to assess their prospects for l i f e after sport, they often became concerned about perceived limitations. They experienced a period of great confusion and indecision which was the most difficult and trying component of the story. In the middle of the story, the athletes frequently sought direction in their careers, scrutinized the profession more carefully, and uncharacteristically reached out to others for ideas and support. Eventually, a culmination point arose, resulting in a decision to withdraw. The athletes were typically relieved by this decision because they were weary of their confusion and often were weary of the physical and emotional demands of the career. A variety of new career opportunities were available to them. Some were planned and some were unexpected. Chance encounters played an important part in the process of leaving sport. The story ended with the establishment and acceptance of a post-sport career and lifestyle. In reflecting on the decision to withdraw, the athletes were typically glad that they quit when they did, even though they were reluctant to do so at the time. Their withdrawal allowed them to preserve health, self-respect, and the regard of others. It also allowed them to develop other competencies and to express a more nurturant dimension of themselves as their interests had turned toward their emerging family lives. Most have found the transition to a new career and lifestyle relatively easy, frequently accepting a more modest lifestyle than they had experienced as professional athletes and usually finding some i v means to continue their participation in sport in a recreational or leadership capacity. The study includes several theoretical implications which reinforce the importance of contextual considerations, the significance of chance encounters, and the changing personal meaning of work in li f e paths. The study supports criticisms of the traditional expectations that a career should follow a rising trajectory, as well as criticisms of the application to this topic of theoretical perspectives borrowed from social gerontology and thanatology. Furthermore, the study finds no evidence to support the contention that this experience is extraordinary and traumatic. Rather, the experience seems to be characteristic of transitions in general. The study supports and offers extensions to Schlossberg's (1984) model of transitions. The practical implications of the study include the utility of the general story as a model, knowledge base, and alternative perspective for individuals experiencing similar transitions and their helping practitioners. Recommendations for interventions include the use of Schlossberg's content-process model as a framework to assist individuals through a transitional experience such as leaving professional sport. V ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS There are a number of people who have made significant contributions to this study. I wish to thank first the ten informants of this research who shared their stories with me: David Hindmarch, Steve CIippingdale, Gary Lupul, Darcy Rota, Prank Barroby, Terry Lombardo, Mark Patzer, Danny Williams, Lindsay Myers, and Al Wilson. In many ways these people were co-researchers with me as they recalled, described, and reviewed their experiences. Without their enthusiastic participation this study would not be possible. I would like to express my thanks to Dr. Larry Cochran, my research supervisor, who encouraged me to consider this topic and helped me to refine the study. My thanks to the other members of my research committee, Drs. Vincent D'Oyley and Dennis Milburn, who offered their support and scrutiny of the project, and Robert Hindmarch, the U.B.C. Director of Sport Services, who served as expert consultant. I also appreciate the assistance of Dr. Rikk Alderman, of the University of Alberta, who directed me to some useful literature as I began this project. I am indebted to my fellow doctoral candidates, Heather Higgins, Gary Ladd, and Scott Lawrance, who offered several valuable criticisms and refinements to the 'General Story'. I thank my wife, Donna, who reviewed and commented on portions of the manuscript and offered love which has endured my frequent inattentiveness during the five years of my recent studies. And finally I would be remiss if I did not v i acknowledge the other members of our family, my two feline research assistants who stole my heart, not to mention my pencils, erasers, and paper clips; re-arranged my papers; assisted with my word processing; and otherwise distracted and kept me company, reminding me that there are other more important things in lif e than a doctoral dissertation. v i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract i i Acknowledgements v CH. I INTRODUCTION 1 General topic 1 Previous investigations 2 Research guestion 3 Rationale 3 Approach 5 CH. II REVIEW OF LITERATURE 9 Career development and transitions 9 Termination of an athletic career 2$ Selective attention to problematic experiences 22 Assumptions about athletes 28 Adoption of inappropriate theoretical perspectives 43 Reliance on anecdotal reports 47 Focus on experience as a 'problem* rather than a 'process* 48 Over emphasis on social-psychological adjustment 49 Research design problems 51 Summary of termination of an athletic career 57 Field research 58 In-depth interviews 64 Format of interviews 66 Relationships in interviews 67 Qualities and preparation of researchers 67 Sampling strategies 69 Analysis 71 Reliability 72 Validity 73 Research report 74 Summary of field research 75 Ch. I l l METHODOLOGY 77 Personal perspective 77 Design 81 Procedures 82 Description of informants 86 Interviews 92 Analysis and description 95 Issues 101 Ch. IV CASE 1 DAVID HINDMARCH - HOCKEY PLAYER 107 Ch. V CASE 2 STEVE CLIPPINGDALE - HOCKEY PLAYER 133 Ch. VI CASE 3 GARY LUPUL - HOCKEY PLAYER 150 v i i i Ch. VII CASE 4 DARCY ROTA - HOCKEY PLAYER 179 Ch. VIII CASE 5 PRANK BARROBY - JOCKEY 213 Ch. IX CASE 6 TERRY LOMBARDO - JOCKEY 251 Ch. X CASE 7 MARK PATZER - JOCKEY 276 Ch. XI CASE 8 DANIEL WILLIAMS - JOCKEY 305 Ch. XII CASE 9 LINDSAY MYERS - RACQUETBALL PLAYER 345 Ch. XIII CASE 10 AL WILSON - FOOTBALL PLAYER 381 Ch. XIV THE GENERAL STORY OF WITHDRAWING FROM 418 PROFESSIONAL SPORT Background 419 Social context 419 Immersion in sport 420 Sport as big business 433 Prologue 435 Beginning 435 Seeing the potential to withdraw 436 Re-immersing self in career 441 Reconsidering the career 442 Questionning the future 444 Middle 447 Seeking direction 447 Reaching a culmination point 449 Committing to withdraw 451 Launching a new career 452 Ending 453 Getting established 453 Adjusting to a new lifestyle 455 Developing new perspectives 459 Immersing self in li f e 461 Feeling settled 464 Reflecting on the transition 466 Summary 468 Epilogue 470 Informants' validations 470 Expert's validation 475 Ch. XV DISCUSSION 476 Findings 476 Limitations 480 Theoretical implications 481 Practical implications 489 Implications for future research 494 Summary 496 BIBLIOGRAPHY 500 i x APPENDIX 519 A. Schlossberg's model: The individual in transition 519 B. General procedures 520 C. Letter of information 521 D. Consent form 523 E. Descriptive overview of informants 524 P. Overview: The general story of withdrawing from professional sport 525 1 CHAPTER I_ INTRODUCTION General topic What happens to professional athletes when their competitive careers end? Do they merely continue their careers happily and prosperously, shifting to coaching, managing, broadcasting, or other facets of the sport industry? Or do they lose themselves in a wasteland of alcohol, drugs, and crime, as exemplified by ex-hockey player, Brian Spencer, recently fatally shot. Both patterns seem to be prevalent. Both are generalizations based on the public experience of a few prominent sportsmen. The popular press often paints a dismal picture of the former athlete's experience. For example, the introduction to a recent Sports Illustrated article stated: Among the sorriest figures in contemporary society is the old athlete adrift in a world outside sports he can neither cope with nor fully comprehend. In another time, the ex-jock might be found recounting past glories in some neighborhood tavern, possibly his own, an all-but-forgotten relic revived from time to time by nostalgic stories in the newspapers. Now, when financial security is virtually assured for a l l but the wastrel few, the adjustment to lif e after sports is more psychological than economic (Fimrlte, 1989, pp. 110-111). While such portraits are colourful, the brush strokes are too broad, too sweeping. Perhaps anomalies are presented as the general experience. The academic literature informs this question but l i t t l e . In fact, most of the literature reflects the assumption that 'retirement' from competitive sport is a 2 universal, major, and traumatic l i f e crisis (e.g. Lerch, 1984; Ogilivie & Howe, 1986; Orlick, 1980, 1986; and Rosenberg, 1984), an experience involving deep feelings of loss and disillusionment which is considered analogous to that of the dying person (e.g. Hallinan & Snyder, 1987). In drawing these conclusions, researchers have not adequately investigated the perspective of those who have the experience. Previous investigations The types of investigations typically used to study the experience of termination of an athletic career have employed quantitative methodologies with an attendant emphasis on measurement rather than understanding. These survey investigations have perpetuated a set of assumptions about athletes and their careers, having relied primarily on non-representative anecdotes and literary accounts for the descriptions of athletes' observations, beliefs, and feelings (e.g. Bouton, 1971; Kramer, 1969; and Plimpton, 1973). Such descriptions are neither rich nor thorough and, given that they are targeted toward a popular or mass audience, their credibility is questionnable. Nevertheless, the reported trauma seems to involve two major concerns - career development and emotional or psychological adjustment to a major l i f e transition. Accordingly, research has adopted a narrow focus on the perceived problems of social-psychological adjustment to career termination, indicating norms which are not rich in 3 terms of Identifying obstacles and facilitators in this experience. Furthermore, these studies have utilized theoretical perspectives borrowed, perhaps Inappropriately, from social gerontology and thanatology. Recent authors have begun to challenge the assumptions underlying these conceptualizations (e.g. Coakley, 1983; Greendorfer & Blinde, 1985) and it has been argued that current popular notions regarding sport retirement may not adequately capture the process of leaving competitive sport (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985). Research question There is a dearth of information which describes the athletes' experiences in a rigorous and systematic manner. This study addresses the general question: *How can the experience of withdrawal from a career in professional sport be described and understood?' Subsidiary issues involve the identification of facilitators and obstacles which affect the former athlete's efforts to establish a new career. Current research into the post-sport lives of athletes seems caught in the context of explaining an assumed negative experience without paying adequate attention to discovering what that experience may be about. Rationale The rationale for this study is that the information gained could contribute to both theoretical and practical knowledge. Theoretically, the research and literature to date Indicate that investigations are in the in i t i a l stages 4 of examining contradictions in the study of athletic retirement. These contradictions are expressed in the "sometimes yes and sometimes no" answers to such questions as those listed by Coakley (1983): Is retirement from competitive sport a problem, or does i t provide new opportunities? Do athletes experience trauma during retirement, or do they experience relief? Is the transition out of the role of active player experienced as a withdrawal, a move back, a retreat, a failure? Or is it experienced as a period of growth and development? (p. 2). Examination of this experience may inform general career development theory because careers are traditionally assumed to develop in a smooth manner, following a rising trajectory (Ochberg, 1988), whereas athletes have the opportunity for a bimodal career curve (Pawlak, 1984), with a predetermined chance for success in two careers. By nature, an athletic career is usually short-term, concluded at a relatively young age, leaving the individual many years of potentially productive time to develop a second career. Given the recent changes in technology and the world-wide economy, many careers are likely to be short-term. Increasing numbers of persons are likely to develop bimodal career patterns with experiences perhaps similar to those of athletes. Furthermore, this study should contribute to the general literature on transition experiences. The movement from an athletic career to a second career may be a special case of transition experience that serves to validate, invalidate, or qualify various models of transition experiences. As George (1980) has noted, there is a need to examine the meaning 5 events have for individuals, as well as the specific coping strategies that individuals might use to manage these transitions. This study also has practical or clinical importance because knowledge about how some people become established in second careers might provide a better position to facilitate that transition for others. Ogllvie and Howe (1986) have noted that while some people handle this experience better than others, most are confronted with existential dilemmas and identity crises in a transition that "is never easy and is occasionally fatal" (p. 373). How some athletes deal with the transition from one career to another may well be informative for athletes and non-athletes facing similar shifts in careers. The theoretical and practical implications of this study are relevant to the discipline of counselling psychology. Counsellors are among the professionals who are expected to help people manage their social-emotional problems (Egan, 1986). As Ivey (1980) has stated, "Intentionality, the creative generation of new responses to lif e and living, is considered... as a central goal of a l l approaches to counseling and therapy" (p. 1). The ideas and information generated by this study may assist athletes and others live more intentionally. Approach The approach to this topic is through field research methodology, specifically utilizing a form of case study in 6 order to gain a detailed description of the experience and a potential enhancement of our understanding. The appropriateness of using case studies arises out of the desire to understand a complex social phenomenon (Yin, 1984), the experience of those people who have withdrawn from careers in professional sport. Ethnography is a specific type of research which is concerned with "the meaning of actions and events to the people we seek to understand" (Spradley, 1979, p. 5). Unlike other methodologies, ethnography Is more Interested in gaining understanding rather than prediction of an experience (Agar, 1986). In this work, the primary source of information is personal interviews with former athletes. The information is re-written in the form of l i f e stories. Thus, this work describes the athletes' points of view or perspectives on their experiences of career termination. Given that the literature has largely adopted a set of controversial assumptions, this approach seems to be appropriate to this topic because a major value of ethnography is: its capacity to depict the activities and perspectives of actors in ways that challenge the dangerously misleading preconceptions that social scientists often bring to research (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983, p. 23). This type of research Is of particular value because i t brings great 'richness' to the investigation. An individual's self-explanation provides extraordinary access into that person's subjective experience. It represents the image that person holds of him or herself, an Image which has 7 enormous power in shaping self-conduct and self-understanding (Ochberg, 1988). When individuals t e l l their own l i f e stories, we gain greater understanding of an experience because we learn the individual's personal contexts in which the experience took place. As Cochran (1986) has explained: Events take on significance from the perspective of the person for whom they matter. One can no more comprehend a person without his or her story than one can comprehend the story without a grasp of the person. There is no one place to start. One enters the circle and builds toward an understanding (p. 15). Social researchers have been challenged to utilize their work to serve the needs of humankind (Spradley, 1979). This may be accomplished through a critical analysis of the experience. Sullivan (1984) has recommended a negotiation of descriptions with informants and an emancipatory praxis of interpretations and suggestions for change to enhance human agency. This type of research involves intensive interpersonal work in which it is advantageous if the investigator has clinical experience. The research should result in useful knowledge which may also have a pragmatic effect on people's identities, the intimate connection between what people know and how they live (Rosenwald, 1988). Wiersma (1988) has offered an example of the impact of this new knowledge on the people involved in her investigation: During the interview process subjects necessarily experienced some profound modification in their ideas of who they were, which, of course, had and will continue to have consequences for their future actions and experiences of themselves (p. 234). This investigation sought informants who were good 8 examples of the general experience of withdrawal from a career in profess ional sport . That i s , informants were se lected because they appeared to have some d i v e r s i t y of experience and because they could provide c lear and d i s t i n c t i v e information, representing the t y p i c a l experience with a t y p i c a l c l a r i t y (Rosenwald, 1988). Their experiences are presented as i l l u s t r a t i o n s that show what may be the case for others in s im i lar circumstances. This type of research can be described as a rigorous endeavour, a d i s c i p l i n e d attempt to capture adequately, s u c c i n c t l y , and c r e a t i v e l y the l i v e d experience and needs of a c e r t a i n group of people (Swanson-Kauffman, 1986). In both topic and methodology, th i s research appears very t imely . Gallmeier (1989), guest editor of the journal Arena Review, has encouraged sport s o c i o l o g i s t s to use ethnographic techniques rather than the "hyperempirical" quant i ta t ive methods which those researchers t y p i c a l l y employ. Furthermore, A l l i s o n and Meyer (1988) have s tated: in future Invest igations of sport ret irement, we must begin to develop methodological s trateg ies that w i l l al low us to view more completely the inner workings of the sport w o r I d . . . future methods must allow us to ident i fy the perceptions and experiences of athletes as they move through t h e i r competitive phases . . .and perhaps most important, in order to further our understanding of the sport experience our methods must allow the athlete to describe the day- in and day-out rout ine of the competitive l i f e . . . B y al lowing athletes to personal ize and r e f l e c t on t h e i r experiences, both pos i t i ve and negative, we can come to understand better the object ive r e a l i t y of the i r sport careers (pp. 220-221). In adopting a case study approach, s p e c i f i c a l l y ethnographic interviews, th i s research attempts to address these concerns. 9 • CHAPTER II REVIEW OF LITERATURE  Career Development and Trans i t ions Turbulent s o c i a l , economic, and p o l i t i c a l condit ions are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of a world which C o l l i n and Young (1986) have described as one "in which occupational c e r t a i n t i e s are being eroded" (p. 837). Technological advances are r a p i d l y changing the nature of work and creat ing the prospect of long-term s t r u c t u r a l unemployment. Notions of continuous employment within a s ing le company, industry , or even f i e l d of s k i l l s or knowledge are no longer appropriate i f , indeed, they ever were. The t r a d i t i o n a l expectation that a career should fol low a r i s i n g t r a j e c t o r y (Ochberg, 1988) to retirement seems inappropriate . In a d d i t i o n , work i t s e l f is in question as people wonder about i t s meaning in t h e i r l i v e s (Young, 1984b). According to authors such as Capra (1982), N a i s b i t t (1982), T o f f l e r (1980), Yankelovich (1981), and others, the rules for career development have changed and there Is a need for a d i f f e r e n t foundation for career guidance, with models which take into account th i s new and complex r e a l i t y . Career development researchers have recent ly c a l l e d for greater considerat ion to be given to the environmental influences on vocat ional choice and development (Gottfredson, 1982; Law, 1981; Super, 1980; Vondracek & Lerner , 1982; Young, 1984a). The Interact ion between the Indiv idual and the s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l environment was acknowledged by ear ly 10 career theor i s t s but was not developed in an integrated way. Instead, two major perspectives on career development have evolved in near separat ion. One is psycholog ica l , p lac ing emphasis on personal v a r i a b l e s , and the other i s s o c i o l o g i c a l , examining career development from a larger perspect ive . Most research work has focussed on the i n d i v i d u a l , p a r t i c u l a r l y with a s crut iny of personal var iables which might influence career development. These two diverse perspectives are an i n d i c a t i o n of the tension in the area of career development. This tension i s a common one that is general ly apparent in the s o c i a l sc iences: "the p u l l between the subject ive creat ive human being act ing upon the world and the ob jec t ive ly given s o c i a l s tructure constra in ing him or her" (Young, 1984a, p. 153). C o l l i n and Young (1986) have offered f ive conclusions in an analys is of the career l i t e r a t u r e . F i r s t , most of the career l i t e r a t u r e lacks rigorous d e f i n i t i o n and c l a r i f i c a t i o n of i t s basic concepts, such as ' c a r e e r 1 , 'development', and 'maturat ion' . Second, the design of research in th i s area has c e r t a i n l i m i t a t i o n s , such as samples which are predominantly middle-c lass males. T h i r d , career theory has focussed on i n d i v i d u a l , rather than contextual f a c t o r s . Four, career l i t e r a t u r e i s concerned p r i m a r i l y with the object ive career , the observed progress of the i n d i v i d u a l rather than the subject ive career , the i n d i v i d u a l ac tor ' s perspect ive , such that "the perceptions, f ee l ings , and values of the ind iv idua l s concerned, and the r e l a t i o n s h i p between 11 job and the rest of l i f e , are ignored" (p. 841). Las t , career theories have been derived from the orthodox, p o s i t i v i s t view of the s o c i a l sc iences , whereby human behaviour is considered determined by measurable factors or inf luences . Neither personal nor s i t u a t i o n a l influences operate as independent shapers of the course of human l i ve s (Bandura, 1982). Thinking about careers requires a m u l t i - d i s c i p l i n a r y considerat ion of ideas drawn from such s o c i a l sciences as economics, psychology, soc io logy, and t h e i r re la ted sub-d i s c i p l i n e s . In add i t i on , C o l l i n and Young (1986) have noted a need to move toward a contextual approach which considers the s i t u a t i o n a l features with which the i n d i v i d u a l i n t e r a c t s , plus the i n d i v i d u a l ' s subject ive experience, the explanation the i n d i v i d u a l appl ies to the experience. H i s t o r i c a l l y , the work ro le appears to have been a c r i t i c a l , meaningful, and centra l l i f e a c t i v i t y in Western soc ie ty , taking up a large part of workers' time and energy, providing a major source of income, and serving as the ch ie f source of contact with soc ie ty at large . C r o s s - c u l t u r a l l y , work also has s ign i f i cance beyond economic compensation, although i n d i v i d u a l cul tures vary in the extent of va luing work. In contemporary Western soc ie ty the importance of work may, in f a c t , be d e c l i n i n g and there i s some doubt as to the influence of the work ro le on se l f -concept or s e l f - i d e n t i t y (Kas l , 1979). Several studies of the unemployed have noted that f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s , rather than the absence of work, 12 are the more powerful Influences a f f ec t ing wel l -being (e .g . K a s l , 1979; Payne & Hart ley , 1987). What may be observed here is a growing d i s t i n c t i o n between two types of work, paid and unpaid. Following Hart ley (1980), there i s a conceptual d i f ference between employment, an exchange r e l a t i o n s h i p invo lv ing payment for work, and work as an a c t i v i t y which may be performed e i ther within or without an employment r e l a t i o n s h i p . The study of careers w i l l be enhanced by understanding the meaning Individuals f ind in c e r t a i n types of employment. Maslow (1968) has described human needs in a h ierarchy . Borgen and Amundson (1984) found that unemployed people in t h e i r study had no idea that work had allowed them to f u l f i l l those needs u n t i l they los t the opportunity to work. As Payne and Jones (1987b) discovered, unemployment seems to make most aspects of employment more important to the displaced worker. The loss of the psychological and materia l benefits of paid employment seems to const i tute a primary set of causal processes which account for the reported decrements in psychological wel l -being experienced by some unemployed people. There i s considerable conceptual overlap amongst the t h e o r e t i c a l pos i t ions of Havighurst and Friedmann (1954), Jahoda (1982), Ke lv in (1981), and Warr (1984) regarding the meaning of work. Apart from f i n a n c i a l resources, these may be summarized by the notion that work contributes to the development and wel l -being of the i n d i v i d u a l in three ways: 13 by providing a context for belonging and expanding one's interpersonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s , by contr ibut ing to the formation and development of a sense of i d e n t i t y and meaning, and by providing a s tructure for one's time and a c t i v i t i e s . These work derived benefits correspond to what T o f f l e r (1980) pos i ts to be three basic human needs: community, meaning, and s t ruc ture . Despite the fact that work does not have the same meaning for a l l i n d i v i d u a l s , varying according to personal preference and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , Havighurst and Friedmann (1954) have argued that ind iv idua l s may f ind any and a l l of the above elements in the i r work. In ret irement, ind iv idua l s are considered to experience a sense of loss to the degree that these elements are no longer ava i lab le to them. Perceptions of loss are personal and are l i k e l y to be influenced by the p a r t i c u l a r meaning ind iv idua l s attach to the i r experiences of career terminat ion. Thus, the study of careers w i l l be enhanced by understanding the meaning ind iv idua l s f ind in both a p a r t i c u l a r type of employment and the t r a n s i t i o n of disengagement from that employment. For many people, the complexit ies of modern soc ie ty have resul ted in a "rapid acce lerat ion in the number of t r a n s i t i o n s encountered in a l l aspects of l i v i n g " (Hopson, 1981, p. 36). The termination of a career Is one of the many t r a n s i t i o n s people may experience in the i r l i v e s . Stress frequently accompanies change, yet , even very s t r e s s f u l t r a n s i t i o n s in l i f e , s h i f t s in status and r o l e , need not lead 14 i n e v i t a b l y to negative consequences. Although these t r a n s i t i o n s often involve losses that require adaptation, that adaptation can bring chal lenge, freedom, and opportunity (George, 1980). T r a n s i t i o n a l experiences, then, are extremely complex, simultaneously carry ing "the seeds of our yesterdays, hopes and fears of our futures , the pressing sensations of the present which is our confirmation of being a l ive" (Hopson, 1981, p. 39). Thinking about t rans i t i ons is c l o s e l y a l l i e d with th inking about human development. U n t i l r ecent ly , researchers have considered that q u a l i t a t i v e change in human development ends with the passage of adolescence ( T r o l l , 1981), that adulthood represents s t a b i l i t y and c e r t a i n t y . These ideas were conceived in times less complex than today and i t i s now widely recognized that adulthood is marked by intense growth and change (Schlossberg, 1984). While theor i s t s agree that adults continuously experience change, they hold d i f f e r i n g perspectives on adult development. Accordingly , the diverse models which attempt to explain the causes and consequences of change in adult l i f e hold varying pos i t ions on such issues as: the degree to which change or ig inates in the Indiv idual or the environment, the extent to which change is l inked to age, and the s p e c i f i c i t y of condit ions under which change is and i s not experienced as a c r i s i s (George, 1982). In a d d i t i o n , these models sometimes hold d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed pos i t ions on issues of p r e d i c t a b i l i t y and v a r i a b i l i t y in the l i f e course 15 (Schlossberg, 1984). For example, Levinson (1978) has proposed four-year sequential in terva l s of experience and Neugarten (1976, 1979) has emphasized v a r i a b i l i t y according to gender and age, with a p a r t i c u l a r note that as l i v e s grow o lder , they grow d i f f e r e n t from each other. The c r i t i c i s m s of career work summarized by C o l l i n and Young (1986) are equal ly appl icable to work on human development and t r a n s i t i o n experiences. For example, the design of research has l i m i t a t i o n s which p a r t i c u l a r l y include smal l , non-representative samples and c r o s s - s e c t i o n a l studies rather than long i tud ina l s tudies . Despite noting the in t erac t ion between the i n d i v i d u a l and a wide array of environmental inf luences , t r a n s i t i o n theory has focussed on i n d i v i d u a l rather than contextual fac tors . Much of the t r a n s i t i o n l i t e r a t u r e has been concerned p r i m a r i l y with the object ive adjustment to change rather than the i n d i v i d u a l ac tor ' s perspective on that experience. And work on t r a n s i t i o n theory has focussed on measurable factors in an e f for t to determine causal inf luences . Accordingly , researchers such as Schlossberg (1981a) have noted that studying t r a n s i t i o n s requires the simultaneous analys i s of a wide v a r i e t y of i n d i v i d u a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and external occurrences. Although there are a myriad of p o t e n t i a l l y i n f l u e n t i a l factors involved in t r a n s i t i o n a l experiences, those perta in ing to personal resources, s o c i a l support, s o c i a l s tatus , and s o c i a l i z a t i o n experiences have been emphasized 16 (George, 1982). The in terac t ion between the actor and these diverse factors i s barely acknowledged. The r e s u l t , despite b r i e f cautionary notes about the prospect of i n d i v i d u a l d i f ferences In experience, has been the development of phase and stage theories and models "which can begin as a n a l y t i c help-mates and, a l l too often end up as i ron plated pigeonholes into which human experience must somehow be made to f i t " (Hopson, 1981, p. 37). Individuals d i f f e r in the i r experience of t r a n s i t i o n s . The same event can involve both pos i t i ve and negative aspects for an i n d i v i d u a l and can have d i f f e r e n t meanings for d i f f e r e n t i n d i v i d u a l s . T r a n s i t i o n a l experiences are h igh ly complex and must be understood through the perspective of both the i n d i v i d u a l contexts in which those t r a n s i t i o n s take place and the l i f e h i s tory of the i n d i v i d u a l experiencing the t r a n s i t i o n . Because the effects of a t r a n s i t i o n are not s o l e l y determined by e i ther personal c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s or factors external to the i n d i v i d u a l , i t i s important to maintain a perspective of the i n d i v i d u a l responding to and act ing on the environment, thereby shaping the course of one's own l i f e . As George (1980) has noted: "We l i v e in a capr ic ious environment, but i t i s an environment on which we can exert influence" (p. 131). However, there has been l i t t l e research considerat ion of the perspective of the i n d i v i d u a l who has experienced a t r a n s i t i o n . The s ign i f i cance of personal perspectives has been p a r t i a l l y addressed. For example, Hopson (1981) has noted 17 that his e a r l i e r model (Hopson & Adams, 1977) might benefit from the addi t ion of assessments of the i n d i v i d u a l ' s perception of change (Schlossberg, 1981a) and has revised the model to include the d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n between perceived pos i t ive and negative experiences. Brammer and Abrego (1981a) have argued that coping with change involves a complex, r e c i p r o c a l in terac t ion between the i n d i v i d u a l and the environment. One of the factors considered to be involved in coping is the perceived meaning the experience has for the i n d i v i d u a l . However, ex i s t ing models have not f u l l y explored the meaning ind iv idua l s f ind In the ir experiences. Schlossberg (1984) has proposed a model which s t r i v e s to account for d i v e r s i t y in the experience of t r a n s i t i o n s . The model i s dynamic, incorporat ing other perspect ives . Rather than being mutually exc lus ive , these perspectives are considered to overlap, i n t e r a c t , and b u i l d upon one another. Imbedded in th i s model is the acknowledgement that c e r t a i n themes in l i f e appear to be u n i v e r s a l , despite the fact that Individuals are h ighly var iab le in the i r development, encounter a d i v e r s i t y of experiences, and become increas ing ly d i f f e r e n t i a t e d as they grow o lder . An extension of the work of Erikson (1950) has led to the inc lus ion of the s ix themes of i d e n t i t y , intimacy and/or attachment, autonomy and s a t i s f a c t i o n , genera t iv i ty , competency, and belonging. These themes are not sequent ia l , tending to recur and overlap without r e g u l a r i t y . The recurrence of these i n t e r n a l themes 18 contributes to the experience of t r a n s i t i o n s throughout adulthood and influences the meaning of those experiences. Schlossberg's model, presented here as Appendix A, has three components. The f i r s t of these considers the t r a n s i t i o n event in terms of i t s type, context, and impact. The types of t r a n s i t i o n s are described as a n t i c i p a t e d , unant ic ipated, chronic hass le , and non-event. The context of the t r a n s i t i o n involves the r e l a t i o n s h i p of the person to the t r a n s i t i o n and the se t t ing in which the t r a n s i t i o n occurs. The Impact of the t r a n s i t i o n on the i n d i v i d u a l ' s l i f e consis ts of the degree of d i s rupt ion in r e l a t i o n s h i p s , rout ines , assumptions, and r o l e s . A second component of the model considers the t r a n s i t i o n as a process, the various ways an i n d i v i d u a l appraises and reacts to the s i t u a t i o n over time. Schlossberg has underscored the s ign i f i cance of the old saying that "It never rains but i t pours." People in the midst of one t r a n s i t i o n frequently experience other t r a n s i t i o n s , thereby increas ing the complexity of the experience and making coping e s p e c i a l l y d i f f i c u l t . Adults are forever so lv ing t h e i r problems only to f ind that the so lut ions require re-examination. Thus, the t r a n s i t i o n process includes phases of a s s imi la t ion and continuous appra i sa l which are in in terac t ion with the t r a n s i t i o n event and the t h i r d component, the i n d i v i d u a l ' s various coping resources. An i n d i v i d u a l ' s coping resources, the balance of present and potent ia l assets and l i a b i l i t i e s , are considered to 19 include var iables which character ize the t r a n s i t i o n , the i n d i v i d u a l , and the environment. Because human l i f e appears so complex, i t is l i k e l y that other p o t e n t i a l l y i n f l u e n t i a l var iab les could be added to th i s model with the benefit of further research. For example, Schlossberg has acknowledged that the effects of an i n d i v i d u a l ' s r a c i a l and ethnic background, mediated by such factors as value or i en ta t ion and c u l t u r a l norms, should not be underestimated. Likewise , i t is probable that research regarding the l i f e s t y l e s of c e r t a i n groups of i n d i v i d u a l s , such as profess ional a th le tes , may contr ibute useful information about the influence of an i n d i v i d u a l ' s s o c i a l world upon the experience of t r a n s i t i o n s . From Schlossberg's perspect ive , then, a career t r a n s i t i o n from profess ional a t h l e t i c s to another endeavour w i l l vary according to the in terac t ion of various c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the event, the process, and the i n d i v i d u a l ' s coping resources. For example, an i n d i v i d u a l ' s experience might be unant ic ipated, very meaningful, and highly d i s r u p t i v e in terms of l i f e routines and assumptions about s e l f and the world. The i n d i v i d u a l ' s i n i t i a l react ion might be one of shock, followed by eventual acceptance over time as other events are added to the experience. And the i n d i v i d u a l ' s coping resources might include convenient t iming of the event, co inc id ing with youth and good hea l th , as well as strong s o c i a l support. In short , Schlossberg's model spec i f i e s a number of var iab les that are thought to account for d i v e r s i t y of experience in t r a n s i t i o n s such as leaving a 21 career in profess ional sport . Termination of an a t h l e t i c career What happens to athletes when t h e i r competitive careers are over? Both academic and popular l i t e r a t u r e are replete with examples of traumatic experiences associated with retirement from sport . Certa in authors, perhaps less than respons ib ly , have promoted the notion that th i s trauma is a un iversa l experience of a th le tes , regardless of the l e v e l of competition in which they have been involved and regardless of the circumstances or contexts in which retirement takes p lace . These claims have been made despite the fact that there i s l i t t l e research evidence to support them. Disengagement from a sport ro le has been described frequently as a traumatic experience involv ing deep fee l ings of loss and d i s i l lus ionment (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985). This trauma seems to involve two major concerns - career development and emotional or psychological adjustment to a major l i f e t r a n s i t i o n . Sport psychologist Dr. Cal B o t t e r i l l has considered the search for post-retirement employment to be the most common problem of former athletes (Van Oosten, 1985). In regard to psychological adjustment, management consultant Mike Corey, of Profess ional Athletes Career Enterprises (PACE) incorporated, has provided a comment that seems representat ive of the kind of trauma r e t i r e d athletes are considered to experience: "An a th le te ' s pride i s taken away after ret irement. Athletes develop great f r u s t r a t i o n s . 22 There are too many horror s t o r i e s ; drugs, a l c o h o l , mar i ta l breakups" (Stark, 1985, p. 57). G r i f f i t h s (1983) has provided an explanation of these problems: The biggest quandry for athletes when they r e t i r e i s that they can't simply be shoehorned into a non-sport l i f e . P ick ing up where they l e f t off i s n ' t poss ible because competition has made them d i f f e r e n t from other people. The athlete feels superior because people make him think he i s . Athletes only need to concentrate on t h e i r sport and i t i s very d i f f i c u l t to get used to d i r e c t i n g the ir s ing le mindedness into the business of every day l i f e . When an athlete i s no longer competing the i l l u s i o n of s u p e r i o r i t y evaporates and may even be replaced by a strong sense of i n f e r i o r i t y (p. 9) . A c r i t i c a l review of the l i t e r a t u r e on th i s top ic suggests that these popular understandings of the experiences of former athletes are d i s t o r t e d . Several issues contribute to th i s d i s t o r t i o n : s e l ec t ive at tent ion to problematic experiences, a v a r i e t y of assumptions about a th le tes , adoption of inappropriate t h e o r e t i c a l perspect ives , r e l i ance on anecdotal reports , focus on the experience of career change as a 'problem' rather than a 'process ' , over-emphasis on s o c i a l - p s y c h o l o g i c a l adjustment, and a v a r i e t y of research design problems. These issues are discussed b r i e f l y below. Se lect ive at tent ion to problematic experiences Discussions about former athletes usua l ly emphasize retirement as a negative event (e .g . B a l l , 1976; Hal l inan & Snyder, 1987; H i l l & Lowe, 1974; McPherson, 1980; M i h o v l l o v i c , 1968; O g i l v i e « Howe, 1986; O r l i c k , 1980, 1986; Rosenberg, 1980a, 1980b, 1981a, 1981b). Coakley (1983) has noted that r e t i r e d athletes are described as "unwil l ing vict ims of circumstances causing them trauma, 23 iden t i ty c r i s e s , loss of economic s tatus , and the loss of meaningful s o c i a l support from fr iends and fans" (p .2 ) . However, while the l i t e r a t u r e provides i so la ted examples of various d i f f i c u l t i e s experienced by c e r t a i n Individuals during the termination of the i r a t h l e t i c careers , "i t i s not known to what extent i f any these outcomes or examples represent normative behavior" (McPherson, 1984, p. 217). Several research e f for t s have adopted vague d e f i n i t i o n s or descr iptors of ' d i f f i c u l t i e s ' which seem to lack substance. For example, one of the e a r l i e s t and often c i t ed studies of th i s experience is that of Mihov l lov ic (1968) in which 44 former Yugoslavian soccer players reported changes In such behaviour as smoking, d r i n k i n g , weight monitoring, and s o c i a l i z i n g . These responses were trans lated into the conclusion that retirement from sport was a negative experience. In another often c i t ed study, Svoboda and Vanek (1983) surveyed 163 former ' super ior ' Czechoslovakian athletes and concluded that retirement s tress ex is ts for some ath le tes . Although no measurements were apparent, these authors speculated on such supposed symptoms of maladaptation as hypertension, cardiovascular problems, in trus ive and r e p e t i t i v e thoughts, f rus tra t ions and aggression, apathy, drug and alcohol use, neurosis , psychosis , s u i c i d a l s ta tes , psychosomatic d i sorders , susp ic ion , jealousy, and mis trus t . In a d d i t i o n , both research reports inferred that aging a th le tes ' renewed e f for t s to remain competitive were symptoms of trauma. 24 More recent ly , O g i l v i e and Howe (1986) have described the termination experience as "a major l i f e c r i s i s for which the athlete is not prepared" (p.365). Athletes are assumed to experience e x i s t e n t i a l dilemmas and i d e n t i t y c r i s e s in a t r a n s i t i o n which "is never easy and is occas iona l ly f a t a l " (p.373). The authors have considered the experience to be marked by a ser ies of losses: a c t i v i t y , d i s c i p l i n e , way of l i f e , i d e n t i t y , s o c i a l recogni t ion , and income. These losses af fect not only the athlete but the a th le te ' s family , p a r t i c u l a r l y the spouse and c h i l d r e n , as well as the a th le te ' s parents. Og i lv i e and Howe have claimed that many marriages do not survive th i s c r i s i s . The d iscuss ion of the d i f f i c u l t i e s associated with the termination of an a t h l e t i c career i s s i m i l a r to those of the negative react ions which have been found to be associated with the experience of unemployment. These react ions include a sense of inadequacy, depression, lowered s e l f -esteem, increased s t re s s , s o c i a l i s o l a t i o n , an increased tendency toward minor p s y c h i a t r i c morbidity , a higher incidence of phys ica l i l l n e s s , e r r a t i c mood s h i f t s , and a progesssive loss of optimism about f inding employment (Amundson & Borgen, 1987; Borgen & Amundson, 1984, 1985, 1987; Brenner, 1973; Cohn, 1978; Feather & Barber, 1983; Gurney, 1980a, 1980b; Hart ley , 1980; H i l l , 1977; Jahoda, 1982; K a s l , Gore, & Cobb, 1975; Liem & Rayman, 1982; P e r f e t t i & Bingham, 1983; Shaw, 1979; Shelton, 1985; S i n f i e l d , 1981; Stokes, 1983; Stokes & Cochrane, 1984; 25 Tiggemann & Winef ie ld , 1984; Warr, 1983; Warr, Jackson, & Banks, 1982). In addi t ion to these reac t ions , increases in parasuicides (Piat t & Kreitman, 1984), morta l i ty ra tes , s u i c i d e s , imprisonments, mental i l l n e s s , abuse, and general family d iscord have been associated with r i s i n g rates of unemployment (Shelton, 1985). A major weakness of research into these psychological costs of unemployment involves the question of c a u s a l i t y (e .g . Furnham, 1984; K a s l , 1979; Stokes, 1983; Stokes & Cochrane, 1984; Winefield & Tiggemann, 1985). Research Is often unclear as to whether the inves t igat ion is being made of the antecedents or the consequences of job lo s s . Thus, Invest igations into the impact of being without work may be plagued by such complexities as pre -ex i s t ing personal condi t ions , s i t u a t i o n a l or s o c i e t a l condi t ions , and problems of measurement and comparison groups. Furthermore, as Payne and Hart ley (1987) point out, a fundamental problem with much of the l i t e r a t u r e on the experience of unemployment is that i t f a l l s to provide an adequate t h e o r e t i c a l framework, r e s u l t i n g in l i t e r a t u r e which is predominantly d e s c r i p t i v e and fragmented. Perhaps th i s i s because the experience is extremely complex, involv ing an intertwining of such factors as those r e l a t i n g to work, economic s e c u r i t y , basic human needs (Shelton, 1985), s o c i e t a l and h i s t o r i c a l events (Feather & O'Br ien , 1986a), and other s i t u a t i o n a l or contextual issues (Kess ler , House, & Turner, 1987). The complexit ies of th i s experience become c lear when we 26 invest igate anomalies. While damaging react ions to unemployment are common, not a l l people who lose t h e i r jobs experience negative effects (Merriam, 1987). Some studies have found fewer negative effects associated with unemployment than with employment. For example, Fryer and Payne (1984) studied the impact of unemployment on a se lect group of men who were proactive in t h e i r coping behaviour. For these i n d i v i d u a l s , the o v e r a l l pattern of unemployment was, on balance, an improvement of the i r l i f e experience, although containing some negative elements. Gore (1978) found that those people who were able to f ind a l ternate ways to s a t i s f y t h e i r work re la ted needs suffered less psychological i l l - e f f e c t s while unemployed. S i m i l a r l y , Amundson and Borgen (1987) found that some people were able to f ind ways to cope, enduring: a pa in fu l experience more success fu l ly than others by gaining access to personal and i n s t i t u t i o n a l support, maintaining a sense of personal power and c o n t r o l , and engaging in meaningful a c t i v i t i e s connected with the goal of employment (p. 104). The range of the experience of termination of an a t h l e t i c career has been character ized by Loy, McPherson, and Kenyon (1978): The react ion or adjustment to th i s state can range from s a t i s f a c t i o n , i f the process i s voluntary or planned for in advance, to traumatic psychological l i f e - s t y l e adjustment problems, i f the process is involuntary (p. 245). However, the d i scr iminat ion between voluntary and involuntary termination seems far too s i m p l i s t i c to adequately understand i n d i v i d u a l react ions . As Coakley (1983) has pointed out, in 27 descr ib ing competitive sport the l i t e r a t u r e emphasizes the r i g i d i t y o£ sport organizat ion , exp lo i ta t ion of a th le tes , and threats to a th le tes ' autonomy and personal we l l -be ing . Athletes are noted to complain about the i r t r a i n i n g regimes, the durat ion of the ir competitive seasons, and the lack of contro l over the i r own l i v e s . It would seem reasonable to conclude that some athletes might welcome and be re l i eved by release from such aversive circumstances, even i f termination was involuntary. For example, O r l i c k (1986) described a study which found that most of the surveyed athletes reported an increase in the ir sense of personal contro l fol lowing retirement and Werthner and O r l i c k (1983) noted that some athletes were happy to see the tedious , time-consuming t r a i n i n g end. A l l i s o n and Meyer (1988) found that 50% of t h e i r respondents reported r e l i e f as the ir f i r s t psychological /emotional response to ret irement . Thus, the fact that some athletes might experience pos i t ive react ions to the i r termination is an add i t iona l complexity in the experlence. Conspicuously absent in the l i t e r a t u r e on the termination of a t h l e t i c careers are invest igat ions involv ing those former athletes who experienced e i ther l i t t l e or no d i f f i c u l t i e s or who simply accepted the i r career termination as another chal lenge. For example, recent ly r e t i r e d Olympic gold-medalist and rythmic gymnast, L o r i Fung, has described her circumstances as fol lows: I'm 25 years o l d , but I'm s t a r t i n g out at about age 15. I've got to s tar t l i v i n g my l i f e as a 28 15-year-o ld . I missed everything normal from that point on in my l i f e . I d i d n ' t go r o l l e r skating with my fr i ends . There's a lo t of things I missed. But  now is my chance to catch up (emphasis added) . . . I plan to do whatever I ' l l do with the same kind of a t t i t u d e , the same kind of d i s c i p l i n e (as she has demonstrated). I'm not going to l i v e off my gymnastics career . I'm going to s tar t a new one (McMartin, 1988, p. G l ) . It would appear that while Fung is well aware of the need to make some dramatic changes in her l i f e , career termination is not necessar i ly a negative or traumatic experience. How former athletes l i k e Fung have addressed these changes has yet to be inves t igated . Assumptions about athletes Some authors have conveyed the assumption of near  universa l trauma fol lowing the termination of a sport career , regardless of the l e v e l of competit ion. The d e f i n i t i o n of th i s "trauma" is vague. For example, Og i lv i e and Howe (1986) have stated that the "emotional and psychological responses to th i s career c r i s i s are nearly u n i v e r s a l , and they are much l i k e those experienced with any major loss" (p. 368). Og i lv i e and Howe also refer to a withdrawal phenomenon, "the effect of d e c l i n i n g motor a c t i v i t y as a form of sensory depr ivat ion", which they consider "an almost universa l complaint among athletes who were terminated before they were psycho log ica l ly ready" (p.374). Andrews (1981) has claimed that the "e l i te athlete never seems to be able to adjust wel l to withdrawal from his act ive occupational role" (p.61) . Furthermore, Stark (1985) has c i t ed Corey in o f f er ing a so-c a l l e d c l a s s i c p r o f i l e of the profess ional a th le te : 29 After being cut from the team his f i r s t react ion Is shock. He takes off time and relaxes for awhile, then he c a l l s up old f r i ends , but nothing happens. He gets desperate and takes any job, which he soon q u i t s . He ends up going from job to job (p. 57). There are two major errors In th i s assumption of near universa l trauma. One is t h a t ' a l l a th le tes ' experiences are the same. The other i s that these traumatic experiences are common to a l l l eve ls of competit ion. Although research is scarce , studies of former i n t e r s c h o l a s t l c and i n t e r c o l l e g i a t e athletes (Dubois, 1980; Greendorfer & Bl inde , 1985; Sack & T h l e l , 1979; Sands, 1978; Snyder & Baber, 1979) c l e a r l y refute the notion that withdrawal from competitive sport is t y p i c a l l y a traumatic and ident i ty - shaking process. Rather, for these people i t is "simply seen as a part of other normal developments such as leaving high school , entering col lege or the labor force , and s e t t l i n g down into new re la t ionsh ips associated with family and career" (Coakley, 1983, p. 3). As Greendorfer and Blinde (1985) have noted, former athletes may not t o t a l l y withdraw from sport but change t h e i r l e v e l and degree of competit ion, along with s h i f t i n g p r i o r i t i e s of in t ere s t s , in a process which appears more gradual or t r a n s i t i o n a l than other l i t e r a t u r e suggests. There has also been very l i t t l e research in regard to amateur a th le tes , although there have been a number of commentaries decrying the d i f f i c u l t i e s in f inding employment and feel ings of loss (e .g . B o t t e r i l l , 1983; Broom, 1983; D i c k i e , 1984; J o l l i m o r e , 1986; O r l i c k , 1980, 1986; Van Oosten, 1985; and Werthner & O r l i c k , 1983). However, i t may 30 may be that amateur athletes are able to cope quite well with the personal adjustments accompanying termination of a competitive career . Cur t i s and Ennis (1988) found no evidence of l a s t i n g negative consequences of disengagement among former Canadian Junior hockey p layers . Svoboda and Vanek (1983) noted that "some athletes go through the period of retirement without d i f f i c u l t i e s , with only understandable fee l ings of nostalgia" (p. 166). Some athletes may not only experience few d i f f i c u l t i e s but may enjoy considerable success in the i r post competitive l i v e s (Coakley, 1983). For example, a study of 240 P o l i s h Olympic athletes concluded that retirement was "a period of productive a c t i v i t y " (Pawlak, 1984, p.175). Nevertheless, general izat ions about the experiences of amateur athletes are less easy.to draw than those about i n t e r s c h o l a s t i c or i n t e r c o l l e g i a t e a th le tes . In the l a t t e r case, retirement is usual ly associated with other t r a n s i t i o n s in a young person's l i f e but the amateur population is much more diverse in terms of age, experience, and f i n a n c i a l support. Addi t iona l research in th i s area is required . There is more research about former profess ional athletes than any others but there i s s t i l l considerable confusion about the dynamics of the retirement process. One reason for th i s confusion may be that accumulated i n d i v i d u a l experiences of adjustment d i f f i c u l t i e s are mistakenly presented as the norm. These experiences may be more unique than common because the research, although fraught with 31 problems of i t s own, does not support the notion of un iversa l trauma. This research has involved former athletes drawn from the sports of basebal l (Arviko, 1976; Bookbinder, 1955; Haerle , 1975; Lerch , 1981; Rosenberg, 1981a), boxing (Weinberg & Arond, 1952; Hare, 1971), f oo tba l l (Reynolds, 1981); hockey (Roy, 1974; Smith, 1987, Smith & Diamond, 1976; Wilcox, 1986), soccer (Houlston, 1984), and tennis ( A l l i s o n & Meyer, 1988). The strongest evidence of retirement trauma is found in the two studies of profess ional boxers. Weinberg and Arond (1952) examined the post-retirement careers of 95 ex-champions and leading contenders and found that retirement was followed by a dramatic dec l ine in income and prest ige and by emotional problems derived from e f for t s to f ind employment. However, most of the problems appeared to be l inked to i n j u r i e s , carefree spending habits i n i t i a t e d during the i r competitive careers , and heavy past dependence on managers. Coakley (1983) c i t ed Hare's (1971) study which examined other factors in the retirement experience of boxers, the i r minority status and the low socioeconomic status of the i r f a m i l i e s , both of which were found to be s i g n i f i c a n t . These ex-boxers experienced d i f f i c u l t y in adjust ing to retirement because they encountered d i s cr iminat ion in the job market and because the ir low income fami l ies lacked the resources to provide them with mater ia l support during ret irement. Thus, i t may be argued that the trauma experienced by these former boxers was less a funct ion 32 of retirement from competition than a function of the s o c i a l condit ions in which they l i v e d . Embedded in the l i t e r a t u r e is anecdotal evidence of i n d i v i d u a l d i s t r e s s , d i f f i c u l t i e s in a t ta in ing and maintaining second careers , and a lack of preparation for the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of ret irement . However, i t i s l i k e l y that there are other elements in th i s experience. As Coakley (1983) has pointed out, i t i s : naive to use just th i s negative information and conclude that former profess ional athletes in general are overwhelmed by retirement-induced stress and are unable to cope cons truc t ive ly with the adjustments required by moving out of act ive sport involvement (p. 6). While there are i so la ted examples of traumatic problems associated with retirement from sport , the experience by i t s e l f "is not the major cause of those problems" ( p . l ) . There are numerous other factors involved in th i s t r a n s i t i o n a l experience. Furthermore, Mcpherson (1984) has noted a counter side to th i s issue: A s i m i l a r number of cases could l i k e l y be c i t ed for those who a t t a i n higher status pos i t ions than would be expected of former profess ional athletes (e .g . become successful doctors , lawyers, p o l i t i c i a n s , or businessmen (p. 217). Rather than experiencing trauma, i t i s probable that many former athletes excel in the ir post-sport careers . Although there has been l i t t l e research on the process of leaving sport (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985), there i s evidence which refutes the notion of u n i v e r s a l i t y of trauma. In fac t , research is now ind ica t ing not only that disengagement from a career in sport i s not traumatic 33 ( A l l i s o n & Meyer, 1988) but that there are no l a s t i n g negative consequences of the experience (Curt is & Ennis , 1988). Another misleading assumption found In the l i t e r a t u r e i s that of a th le tes ' continuous a sp i ra t ion or des ire for  continued competit ion. It is assumed that a l l athletes aspire to a t t a i n and maintain the highest poss ible l e v e l of competit ion. Faced with diminishing opportunit ies to compete, "each and every athlete must be prepared for the consequences of funct ioning in a Darwinian sports world" (Ogi lv ie & Howe, 1986, p. 366). For example, a recent cover s tory in Time (Gup, 1989) noted that while there are nearly 20,000 col lege basketbal l players in the United States , only 40 w i l l make the profess ional league. Such comparisons are dramatic and c o l o u r f u l . They are also mis leading. Neglected in such statements is the p r o b a b i l i t y that the vast majority of p a r t i c i p a n t s may not only be aware of the un l ike l ihood of a profess ional career , but may also have other asp irat ions or interests which would preclude such a career even i f they had the required s k i l l s and t a l e n t . Although some athletes may have u n r e a l i s t i c expectations of the i r careers , there is no evidence to show that such expectations are problematic. Blann and Zaichkowsky (1986) found that 73% of the ir respondents planned to play profess ional hockey for 5 or more years , despite the fact that the average hockey career las ts 4.8 years . It may be argued that such expectations are simply r e f l e c t i o n s of 34 healthy optimism. Termination of an a t h l e t i c career i s considered to be l a r g e l y an involuntary process, a re su l t of d e - s e l e c t i o n , age, or i n j u r y (Ogi lv ie & Howe, 1986). Even voluntary retirement is often seen as p a r t l y forced because "faced with c e r t a i n ret irement, one w i l l r a t i o n a l i z e i t into a s e l f -selected option" (Rosenberg, 1984, p. 252-3). Thus, even when retirement is chosen by the i n d i v i d u a l i t i s usual ly seen as the re su l t of the a th le te ' s i n a b i l i t y to perform rather than his d iverging i n t e r e s t s . The l i t e r a t u r e seems to f ind f a u l t , to consider p a t h o l o g i c a l , an a th le te ' s attempt to compete in post-prime years . McPherson (1980) has noted that because retirement is often involuntary , an imposit ion on the p layers , "there i s a conscious attempt to extend the playing career as long as possible" (p. 136). The impl icat ion is that at some stage players should simply surrender the competitive q u a l i t i e s which have been a factor in t h e i r a t h l e t i c success. Rosenberg (1980a) has made th i s point in his comparison of athletes and businessmen: The businessman often r e t i r e s at or near the peak of his earning power. I t ' s a rare a th le te , however, who quits while he's ahead. Many athletes hang on too long, e i ther because of t h e i r love of the game (which out lasts the ir major-league a b i l i t i e s ) or t h e i r lack of a l t ernat ives (p. 20). Nevertheless, the dec i s ion to continue a career may be made for many reasons which, in f a c t , can lead to a s a t i s f y i n g choice for i n d i v i d u a l s . An example may be drawn from a p layer ' s remark in Faulkner (1975): 35 The National League is not the only league to play in'. Bel ieve me, I've given i t a good shot but the going up and down l i k e a yo yo, the moving of the fami ly , and a l l that . We've paid the p r i c e , but i t ' s a good l i f e here. Even r ight here ( in the minors) where else can you make th i s kind of money and meet the people you do? I enjoy my friends here, I have no complaints because not everyone gets the chance to have the l i f e we've had. I want to play a few more years , and l i k e I say, i t ' s been good to us (p. 545). Rather than appreciat ing the many factors involved in a p layer ' s career d e c i s i o n , McPherson (1980) has suggested that many athletes never leave t h e i r sport , seeking insecure and lesser status roles in the organizat ion because "faced with an iden t i ty c r i s i s which often leads to maladjustment in the nonsport cu l ture of mainstream soc ie ty , they re treat to safety within the sport subculture" (p. 132). Furthermore, McPherson has said that an athlete attempts to maintain some form of involvement with sport "in order to s a t i s f y an ego which has been fed by adulat ion from the masses" (p. 136). Perhaps th i s is too sweeping a genera l i za t ion because there may be many reasons an i n d i v i d u a l may wish to continue assoc ia t ion with sport . One reason may be simply to make a contr ibut ion at another l e v e l , which can hardly be considered symptomatic of an iden t i ty c r i s i s or trauma. Whenever an a t h l e t i c career i s terminated, the l i t e r a t u r e tends to assume that i t represents f a i l u r e . Although Andrews (1981) has suggested that the a th le te ' s own perception of f a i l u r e may be determined by the voluntary or involuntary nature of his withdrawal, any retirement seems to indicate that the athlete just cannot handle the competition any longer. H i l l and Lowe (1974) have stated: 36 Eventual ly , the athlete has to accept that the dec l ine in his phys ica l s k i l l s and stamina is due to the onset of ag ing . . . (He) is obliged to grow old before his t i m e . . . although in the prime of his l i f e , he c a r r i e s the stigma of an old man in the eyes of the younger players (p. 20). Drawing on the anecdotal reports of a few selected i n d i v i d u a l s , B a l l (1976) has described two types of group reactions to the f a i l i n g i n d i v i d u a l : 'degredat ion' , a dramatic and publ i c separation of the i n d i v i d u a l from the group, and ' coo l ing out ' , a r o u t i n i z a t i o n and p r i v a t e , subject ive estrangement of the i n d i v i d u a l . The former process may be considered t y p i c a l of outr ight d i s m i s s a l , p a r t i c u l a r l y prevalent in f o o t b a l l where there are no minor leagues to which players may be demoted. The l a t t e r may be considered t y p i c a l of such sports as basebal l or hockey where the i n d i v i d u a l may be demoted to a lower league. In the case of hockey, Smith and Diamond (1976) considered th i s type of f a i l u r e to be endemic because most players terminated the ir careers in the minor leagues. And yet , Faulkner (1975) has noted that journeymen players revise the i r personal expectations and consider t h e i r careers in the minor leagues as r e l a t i v e success because they can a t t a i n a f a i r measure of recogni t ion and enjoy s i g n i f i c a n t material rewards. It i s l i k e l y that the negative fee l ings some ind iv idua l s experience may be more the r e s u l t of a dehumanizing s o c i a l process than the actual winding down or termination of the a t h l e t i c career . A second form of assumed f a i l u r e i s the concern for former a th le tes ' downward s o c i a l mobi l i ty (e .g . Houlston, 37 1984). McPherson (1980) has claimed that many former athletes go through more than one occupation in the search for a meaningful career and are often employed in low status white c o l l a r or blue c o l l a r pos i t i ons . When a former athlete is unable to maintain the income and l i f e - s t y l e of his competitive days, he i s considered to have f a i l e d , just as in the example c i t ed by Rosenberg (1981a) of Henry C a r r , a 1964 Olympic gold medalist and former profess ional f o o t b a l l player who was found working as a j a n i t o r . The l i t e r a t u r e does not address factors other than sport which might contr ibute to an i n d i v i d u a l ' s career path. For instance, as Coakley (1983) has noted: It may be that r e t i r e d black boxers have no more problems than those experienced by other 30-year-old black males who grew up on the s treets of large inner c i t i e s , received l i t t l e education, and had few resources to a s s i s t them in career development or job t r a i n i n g (p. 8). The simple fact that former athletes f ind second careers with lower s a l a r i e s and less prest ige than they found in sport should not define them as f a i l u r e s or v ict ims of ret irement . Just because ex-athletes become s imi lar to those they resembled when the i r sport careers began does not necessar i ly s igna l trauma, i d e n t i t y c r i s e s , or serious adjustment problems (p. 10). The uniqueness of an a th le te ' s l i f e is assumed to lead to la ter trauma. The a th le te ' s ear ly l i f e s t y l e often includes a heavy t r a i n i n g and competitive regime which may r e s t r i c t opportunit ies for the patterns of personal growth and development experienced by age peers, as prev ious ly noted in Fung's comment (McMartln, 1988). According to McPherson 38 (1980): future profess ional athletes begin to base t h e i r s e l f esteem on a t h l e t i c performance. . . the i r l i f e s t y l e for most of t h e i r f i r s t twenty to t h i r t y years has been r e s t r i c t e d almost exc lus ive ly to sport and in terac t ion within that s o c i a l world (p. 128). In a d d i t i o n , the occupational l i f e s t y l e may include high wages, l a v i s h fr inge benef i t s , publ ic adulat ion (Smith & Diamond, 1976), considerable t r a v e l (Andrews, 1981), uncerta inty , age-grading, unusual working hours, and p o r t a b i l i t y from franchise to franchise (e .g . McPherson, 1980). Furthermore, H i l l and Lowe (1974) have claimed that retirement from th i s unique l i f e s t y l e could be the f i r s t major s tress point encountered by the athlete because he: is shielded by his c lub from the anxiet ies which accompany leaving the protect ive cl imate of the home and school in order to assume the r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of family l i f e and an occupation. Thus the profess ional a th le te , l i k e the s o l d i e r , has day to day r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s taken away from him in order to ensure a more e f f i c i e n t performance of his ' job* . The athlete i s viewed as a thoroughbred who must constant ly be cosseted and never troubled by the mundane matters which are the l o t of the t y p i c a l working man (p. 8). Without comparisons with the experiences of non-ath le tes , the assumption that th i s 'unique' l i f e s t y l e automat ica l ly creates problems is unwarranted (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985). This point is p a r t i c u l a r l y apparent given that athletes are considered to have developed q u a l i t i e s that are valuable in other l i f e pursu i t s : d i s c i p l i n e and dedicat ion , se l f -conf idence , self-awareness, s e l f - r e s p e c t , competitiveness, determination to succeed, p r i d e , and a b i l i t y to work on a team ( O r l i c k , 1986; Stark, 39 1985). Apart from promoting the idea that athletes are d i f f eren t from non-athletes , the l i t e r a t u r e has also promoted the notion that athletes are quite s i m i l a r to one another (Coakley, 1983). O g i l v i e and Howe (1986) have claimed that through commitment to sport , the athlete lacks the opportunity to develop a rounded, f u l l personal i ty or to explore other options and apt i tudes , r e s u l t i n g in "a one-dimensional personal i ty s tructure" (p. 380). Retirement from sport i s usual ly discussed from the perspective of perceived unidimensional persons s trugg l ing with the loss of the i r ro les and i d e n t i t i e s . However, a d i f f e r e n t perspective may be gained i f athletes are considered as complex ind iv idua l s with diverse backgrounds, i n t e r e s t s , r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and expectations. As Coakley (1983) has noted, former athletes probably do not have as much in common with one another as they do with non-athletes of the same gender, race , age, educational l e v e l , and socioeconomic background (p. 9) . The l i t e r a t u r e tends to assume a future with l imi ted opportunit ies for the former a th le te . Athletes are considered to be handicapped by having f a i l e d to plan for the ir retirement and by not having an education or su i tab le t r a i n i n g for a second career (McPherson, 1980). While a recent survey of act ive hockey players has supported the contention that many athletes do not plan for a subsequent career (Blann & Zaichkowsky, 1986), whether or not lack of planning becomes a handicap for these athletes remains to be seen. 40 Nevertheless, athletes are assumed to have d i f f i c u l t i e s in e s tab l i sh ing s a t i s f a c t o r y second careers . For example, Houlston (1984) concluded that continuation within the soccer organizat ion was the only a l t ernat ive in terms of the maximum u t i l i z a t i o n of a profess ional p layer ' s s k i l l s . O g i l v i e and Howe (1986) have painted a p a r t i c u l a r l y bleak future because "no a c t i v i t y can ever be experienced as in tens ive ly s a t i s f y i n g , f u l f i l l i n g , and rewarding as t h e i r involvement in sports" (p. 371). Such assumptions may be questioned by the continued successful l i v e s of those former Olympians studied by Pawlak (1984), and Coakley's (1983) observation that some sports may provide opportunit ies for ind iv idua l s to develop non-sport s o c i a l contacts , a c t i v i t i e s , in t ere s t s , and careers . Moreover, as has been noted above, sport encourages the development of q u a l i t i e s which are p o t e n t i a l l y transferable to other careers . Athletes are assumed to be drawn from a low soc io - economic background. H i l l and Lowe (1974) have stated that: "Typ ica l l y the athlete has experienced economic i n s e c u r i t y in his childhood and he views a career in profess ional sport as the best way to improve his s ta t i on in l i f e " (p. 8). Houlston (1984) has observed that profess ional soccer provided short-term s o c i a l mobi l i ty for act ive players and Rosenberg (1980a) has noted that sport has provided many athletes extremely rapid upward s o c i a l m o b i l i t y . This genera l i za t ion appears far too sweeping because some sports , such as gol f and tennis , draw athletes from upper c lass 41 backgrounds (Coakley, 1983). Nevertheless, the experience of s o c i a l mobi l i ty can hardly be considered unique to a th le tes , nor should i t be concluded that i t makes athletes "susceptible to personal d i sorganizat ion" (Rosenberg, 1980a, p. 21). Along with a low socio-economic background, r e t i r e d athletes are assumed to have overwhelming f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s . O g i l v i e and Howe (1986) have claimed that: Terminated profess ional athletes and the i r fami l ies must also deal with new economic r e a l i t i e s . . . i t is the rare athlete who is able to maintain the same l i f e - s t y l e that he or she enjoyed as a pro fe s s iona l . Therefore, most (emphasis added) athletes become overwhelmed as the f i n a n c i a l pressures compound the interpersonal problems prec ip i ta ted by the i r termination (p. 372). While the research on r e t i r e d boxers (Weinberg & Arond, 1952; Hare, 1971) has provided some supportive evidence for th i s c la im, again, the genera l i zat ion appears far too sweeping. The experience of career termination is assumed to be one of loss and depr iva t ion . Athletes are assumed to suffer the loss of a c t i v i t y , i d e n t i t y , s o c i a l recogni t ion and a t t ent ion , and se l f - re spec t (Ogi lv ie & Howe, 1986; McPherson, 1980). Retirement has been considered to mark "the f i r s t time in the a th le te ' s l i f e when he i s deprived of the s a t i s f a c t i o n s which sport has always given him" ( H i l l & Lowe, 1974, p. 6). Rosenberg (1984) has l inked th i s assumption with that of unique and negative experience: Upon ret irement, even in the best scenario , the athlete is deprived for the f i r s t time of the rewards his or her sport has showered on him or her s ince chi ldhood. For the f i r s t time he or she is f u l l y saddled with such adult r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s as managing 42 f inances, arranging t r a v e l , or doing laundry. He or she i s now l i k e l y to perceive him or herse l f a decade or so behind non-sport age peers in career development. Thus, regardless of economic s tatus , retirement i s a status t r a n s i t i o n of considerable s o c i a l and psychological s tress for the athlete (p. 246). While a sense of loss has been considered to be normal upon retirement from sport ( O r l i c k , 1986), the same might also be said about the completion of any s i g n i f i c a n t a c t i v i t y , such as a doctora l d i s s e r t a t i o n , without the event necessar i ly r e s u l t i n g in trauma. The f i n a l apparent assumption in the l i t e r a t u r e i s that a t h l e t i c retirement is s im i lar to occupational ret irement, whereby people are often forced by age to withdraw from the ir careers . Lerch (1981) has noted that athletes r a r e l y r e t i r e in th i s economic sense but, nevertheless , has considered that the 'stepping down' from an a t h l e t i c career , a career change, is p o t e n t i a l l y synonymous with ret irement. B a l l (1976) has percieved that a th le tes ' experiences of adjustment d i f f i c u l t i e s , such as loss of s tatus , downward m o b i l i t y , i d e n t i t y c r i s i s , and loss of sense of purpose, are s i m i l a r to those sa id to be experienced by regular labour force r e t i r e e s . However, 'ret irement' i s an inappropriate term to use in the sport ro le (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985) because the experience i s more c l o s e l y a l l i e d to the concept of mid-l i f e career change than to the process of old age retirement (Reynolds,. 1981). Furthermore, the expectation of general retirement adjustment d i f f i c u l t i e s is also inappropriate because "for the most par t , retirement appears to have l i t t l e s i g n i f i c a n t impact on broad leve ls of s o c i a l adjustment and 43 ident i ty" (George, 1980, p.73) . Adoption of inappropriate t h e o r e t i c a l bases Probably the e a r l i e s t t h e o r e t i c a l model appl ied to the retirement experience of athletes is Sussman's (1972) a n a l y t i c a l model of ret irement, adapted by H i l l and Lowe (1974) and v i r t u a l l y ignored thereafter (Rosenberg, 1981a). This model has i d e n t i f i e d f ive c lus ters of var iables which might be i n f l u e n t i a l in the retirement experience. It has some potent ia l in understanding an i n d i v i d u a l ' s experience because i t suggests factors which might contr ibute to the a th le te ' s context. However, as in the experience of unemployment research noted below, the experience i s so complex that a s ing le model is l i k e l y to be too cumbersome and r e s t r i c t i v e to adequately explain the experience. Much of the general research on the experience of unemployment suggests that there are s i g n i f i c a n t d i f ferences according to such factors as sex (e .g . Banks et a l . , 1980; Banks & Jackson, 1982; Feather & O'Br ien , 1986a, 1987, Kess ler , House, & Turner, 1987; Stokes & Cochrane, 1984; Warr, Banks, & U l l a h , 1985), age (e .g . Jackson & Warr, 1984), race (e .g . Bowman, 1984; Stafford et a l . , 1980; Warr, Banks, & U l l a h , 1985), and s o c i a l c lass (Hepworth, 1980; Marsden & Duff, 1975; Payne & Hart ley , 1987; Payne, Warr, & Hart ley , 1984; P i a t t & Kreltman, 1984; Shelton, 1905). Furthermore, Warr (1983) has defined 9 features of the unemployment experience which may bring about reduced psychological we l l -be ing , along with 8 var iables which might 44 independently and j o i n t l y influence the experience. In a d d i t i o n , Payne and Jones (1987b) have recent ly provided a reminder that there are enduring i n d i v i d u a l d i f ferences in mental wel l -being and values , d i f ferences which have an influence on perceptions and at t i tudes to work and which appear to transcend such t r a n s i t i o n s as employment s tatus . This comment echoes that of K a s l , Gore, and Cobb (1975): Studying in tens ive ly and l o n g i t u d i n a l l y the ef fects of one s t r e s s f u l l i f e event, such as job lo s s , is an exceedingly complex business. Di f ferent outcome var iables may show s t r i k i n g l y d i f f e r e n t patterns of changes and a l l appear to be s ens i t ive to c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the person and of the s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n . Moreover . . . the period of a n t i c i p a t i o n of an event can be at least as s t r e s s f u l as the event i t s e l f (p. 121). In other attempts to understand a t h l e t i c ret irement, perspectives have been borrowed from s o c i a l gerontology to l ink the experience of aging and old age with that of an a t h l e t i c career . Rosenberg (1981b) has discussed the a p p l i c a b i l i t y of s ix approaches: disengagement, a c t i v i t y or s u b s t i t u t i o n , subculture , cont inu i ty or conso l ida t ion , s o c i a l breakdown, and exchange theor ies . From these perspect ives , l i f e s a t i s f a c t i o n becomes a c r i t i c a l var iab le in considering the s o c i a l - p s y c h o l o g i c a l adjustment to retirement (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985). Although i t can be argued that aging plays a s i g n i f i c a n t ro le in the dec i s ion to r e t i r e from sport , the a p p l i c a b i l i t y of the analogy to old age retirement is questionnable. Ret ired athletes s t i l l have the vast majority of the i r working l i v e s ahead of them and they cannot af ford e i ther 45 f i n a n c i a l l y or s o c i a l l y to withdraw from soc ie ty as s o c i a l geronto log ica l perspectives might imply. Despite the wear and tear of a rigorous career , the r e t i r e d athlete may be some for ty years younger and hea l th ier than the r e t i r e d worker. The former athlete is l i k e l y to seek a career after his p laying days are over and th i s may well be the f i r s t r e a l career i f profess ional experience has been b r i e f . The careers of many profess ional sportsmen are so short that "most were never r e a l l y in the game long enough to c a l l i t a career" (Vamplew, 1984, p. 73). Thus, i t would appear inappropriate to apply to athletes the s o c i a l geronto log ica l concepts which have been used to explain the experiences, the adjustment or l i f e s a t i s f a c t i o n , of r e t i r e d people who have experienced a f u l l occupational career . Another approach appl ied to the study of a t h l e t i c retirement i s that of thanatology, the study of death and dying (Rosenberg, 1984). Selected comments from athletes give credence to the death analogy because retirement becomes very s i g n i f i c a n t when sport i s considered to be more than a career , as 'The game.. .Is my l i f e ' (Lerch, 1984, p. 259). Unlike ordinary people, the athlete i s assumed to have two l i v e s , one as an a th le te , another as a person. The concepts of thanatology have p a r t i c u l a r l y been applied to s i tua t ions in which an i n d i v i d u a l is considered, or perceives himself , to be ' s o c i a l l y dead' ( B a l l , 1976; Hal l inan & Snyder, 1987; Lerch , 1984; O g i l v i e & Howe, 1986; O r l i c k , 1986; Rosenberg, 1984; Werthner & O r l i c k , 1983; Wilcox, 1986). This 46 condit ion usual ly resu l t s from s o c i a l i s o l a t i o n or ostracism from other i n d i v i d u a l s . C r e d i b i l i t y for the a p p l i c a t i o n of th i s notion to disengagement from sport seems to have come from the j o u r n a l i s t i c accounts of a few former athletes who may have experienced unusual d i f f i c u l t i e s in adjust ing to the termination of the i r careers . The comments of other athletes have been considered to f i t the seven-stage model of the experience of coping with death, offered by Kubler-Ross (1969). However, th i s l i t e r a t u r e may be c r i t i c i z e d not only because that f i t i s , perhaps, too convenient, but because the model has become overused and, in the l i g h t of more recent research, appears too s i m p l i s t i c to adequately explain the complex experience of loss and g r i e v i n g . A much more de ta i l ed understanding of the complexit ies of th i s general experience has i d e n t i f i e d 33 d i f f eren t themes (Cochran & C l a s p e l l , 1987). Nevertheless, as Blinde and Greendorfer (1985) have noted, the descr ipt ions of ' s o c i a l death' associated with termination of an a t h l e t i c career are dramatic, graphic , and poignant. They may, however, provide an overly negative portrayal of the experience and the g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y of th i s p o r t r a i t to the experience of the vast majority of athletes is h ighly questionnable. In sum, the concept of ' re t i rement ' , a term p r i m a r i l y concerned with disengagement and the r e l i n q u i s h i n g of formal r o l e s , appears Inappropriate to describe the complex experience of termination of an a t h l e t i c career , p a r t i c u l a r l y 47 because former sportsmen are l i k e l y to move on to other careers and other r o l e s . Furthermore, the underlying assumptions of s o c i a l gerontology and thanatology are not adequate to describe th i s experience (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985) because analogies to aging, death, and dying are not s u f f i c i e n t l y accurate or comprehensive for th i s t o p i c . Reliance on anecdotal reports A s i g n i f i c a n t problem with the l i t e r a t u r e in th i s f i e l d i s the excessive re l iance on anecdotal reports , l a r g e l y j o u r n a l i s t i c accounts of the a t h l e t i c careers of a few i n d i v i d u a l s . Popular sport l i t e r a t u r e , such as Bouton (1970), Kramer (1969), and Plimpton (1973), has been informative in that i t has provided some depth, co lour , and meaning to the experiences of c e r t a i n i n d i v i d u a l s . However, i t s v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y are h ighly suspect. Not only are the author informants usual ly c e l e b r i t i e s , whose experiences may d i f f e r from those of less well-known a th le tes , but t h e i r intent is to provide marketable copy rather than academically v a l i d information. Likewise, when the l i t e r a t u r e draws on newspaper reports , i t is u t i l i z i n g information which is l i k e l y to be biased toward newsworthy s tor i e s about prominent sportsmen or dramatic and unusual experiences, neither of which can be appropriate ly considered to represent the norm. Because the comments of ind iv idua l s are considered to general ize to a l l a th le tes , s imi lar c r i t i c i s m can be made of the anecdotal reports found in survey s tudies . 48 Focus on experience as a 'problem* rather than a % process 1 The sport retirement l i t e r a t u r e t y p i c a l l y assumes that adustment problems are i n t r i n s i c a l l y re la ted to the sport experience I t s e l f (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985). Viewing sport as the sole cause of such d i f f i c u l t i e s automatical ly r e s t r i c t s and confines any attempt to understand the process of terminating an a t h l e t i c career . And yet , as other reviews have noted (e .g . Coakley, 1983; George, 1980; McPherson, 1984), even general retirement i s seldom viewed as a normative 'problem', a precursor of s tress or an i d e n t i t y c r i s i s invo lv ing s o c i a l , p h y s i c a l , or mental health problems. In order to gain an adequate understanding of th i s experience, the perspective must be broadened, rep lac ing the problem-oriented approach with a process-oriented approach (McPherson, 1984). Related to a process-oriented approach is the considerat ion of retirement as a ro le t r a n s i t i o n or status passage (McPherson, 1984). For example, while retirement from sport is t y p i c a l l y considered as an event, an abrupt termination of a ro l e in a t h l e t i c s which presupposes that i d e n t i f i c a t i o n and involvement with sport ends, there may be other poss ible scenarios . Blinde and Greendorfer (1985) have speculated that a more appropriate p o s s i b i l i t y is that former e l i t e athletes experience a t r a n s i t i o n from formal and i n s t i t u t i o n a l leve ls of competition to informal and casual p a r t i c i p a t i o n , a considerat ion which has been Ignored in the research. Thus, a more accurate understanding of the 49 experience of leaving competitive sport may be gained through the more long i tud ina l perspective of the i n d i v i d u a l a th le te ' s l i f e s tory . Over-emphasis on s o c i a l - p s y c h o l o g i c a l adjustment Soc ia l -psycho log ica l perspectives on perceived adjustment d i f f i c u l t i e s have t o t a l l y overshadowed other perspectives (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985). One perspective which seems to require more considerat ion is that of the psycho-physio logical features of withdrawal from competit ion. Some authors (Ogi lv ie & Howe, 1986; Svoboda & Vanek, 1983; Werthner & O r l i c k , 1983) have mentioned psychological adjustment problems and phys ica l pain due to decreased a c t i v i t y fol lowing ret irement. In the German Democratic Republic i t i s standard prac t i ce for a r e t i r e d e l i t e athlete to undergo a two-year, medical ly supervised, down-training programme to a s s i s t phys io log ica l adjustments to reduced a c t i v i t y leve ls (Broom, 1983). It would appear that such p h y s i o l o g i c a l l y based issues may be relevant to a r e t i r e e ' s wel l -be ing . Another perspective which has received scant considerat ion is that of the s o c i a l - s t r u c t u r a l influences on the retirement experience. The l i t e r a t u r e has acknowledged such detrimental factors as the ephemeral prest ige bestowed on athletes by fans who are often quick to relegate t h e i r former heroes to obscuri ty (Rosenberg, 1984). Sporting fame is "a r a p i d l y deprec iat ing currency" (Vamplew, 1984, p. 75). Even the sport establishment i t s e l f pays l i t t l e a t tent ion to 50 i t s former heroes as Rosenberg (1981a), for example, discovered that profess ional basebal l teams had very l i t t l e current Information about former team members. Not only i s the profess ional sport establishment u n l i k e l y to help provide services for athletes who w i l l soon face retirement (Ogi lv ie & Howe, 1986), but the l i t e r a t u r e provides examples of how that establishment often imposes b a r r i e r s that impede athletes* preparations for other careers . Profess ional teams may discourage the i r athletes from undertaking further educational or occupational experiences during the ir playing careers , perhaps even requ ir ing them to seek permission to e s tab l i sh any kind of business or commercial venture. A h ighly respected and successful soccer manager has explained t h i s p o s i t i o n : "I prefer players not to be too good or c lever at other th ings . It means they concentrate on football** (Houlston, 1984, p. 62). Coakley (1983) has stated that the nature of the sport retirement process "is p r i m a r i l y grounded in the s o c i a l -s t r u c t u r a l context in which i t occurs" (p. 9) . While references to the above s o c i a l - s t r u c t u r a l features are r e a d i l y ava i lab le in the l i t e r a t u r e , there are many other features which have been neglected. For example, e t h n i c i t y and educational l e v e l were found to be the most s i g n i f i c a n t determinants of post-retirement occupational attainments among former I s r a e l i profess ional soccer players (Semyonov, 1984). 51 The t r a n s i t i o n out of sport should be considered in l i g h t of such factors as age, race , gender, education, soc io -economic s tatus , the existence of s o c i a l , emotional, and material support systems, the existence of various forms of d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , and the circumstances and concurrent t r a n s i t i o n s experienced by athletes at the time they leave the i r careers in sport (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985; Coakley, 1983). The array of p o t e n t i a l l y i n f l u e n t i a l factors i s bounded only by the i n d i v i d u a l a th le te ' s l i f e experiences. Consideration of such features , along with the pecul iar meaning they have for each i n d i v i d u a l involved in the retirement experience, has been neglected in the l i t e r a t u r e . Research design problems Apart from the issues noted above, i t appears that some researchers have generalized inappropriate conclusions from problematic evidence, p a r t i c u l a r l y concerning the representativeness of the various s tudies . One problem is that of d e f i n i t i o n s . As noted above, a major assumption in the l i t e r a t u r e is that a l l athletes are the same. Nevertheless, i t seems warranted that the l i t e r a t u r e should offer some d i s t i n c t i o n between the d i f f e r e n t types of a th le tes . Studies have d is t inguished i n t e r s c h o l a s t i c and i n t e r c o l l e g i a t e athletes (Dubois, 1980; Greendorfer & Bl inde , 1985; Hal l inan & Snyder, 1987; Sack & T h i e l , 1979; Sands, 1978; Snyder & Baber, 1979). However, the l i t e r a t u r e offers no d i s t i n c t i o n between the experiences of such athletes as North American profess ional baseba l l , f o o t b a l l , 52 and hockey players and those In the often c i t ed studies of Yugoslavian soccer players (Mihov i lov ic , 1968) and ' super ior ' Czechoslovakian athletes (Svoboda & Vanek, 1983). Furthermore, no attempts have been made to d i s t i n g u i s h between athletes on contextual issues. Another d e f i n i t i o n a l concern is that of 'ret irement' i t s e l f . Despite the numerous factors that might lead to an i n d i v i d u a l ' s personal dec i s ion to withdraw from a given l e v e l of competit ion, as noted above, the l i t e r a t u r e assumes that a l l a t h l e t i c careers are terminated i n v o l u n t a r i l y . Research has not d i f f e r e n t i a t e d between the experiences of those people who leave the i r sport because of choice , i n j u r y , management d e c i s i o n , or an offer to enter management. Another problem with research on th i s top ic i s i t s lack  of comparisons. No contrasts have been drawn between those people who experience s i g n i f i c a n t adjustment problems and those who do not. Furthermore, there have been few comparisons of the experiences of athletes and the i r non-athlete peers. Studies have compared former athlete and non-athlete col lege students (Dubois, 1980; Sack & T h i e l , 1979; Snyder & Baber, 1979), in which no s i g n i f i c a n t d i f ferences were found. S imi lar comparisons were made among former high school students (Otto & Alwin, 1977; P h i l l i p s & Schafer, 1971) in which former athletes achieved greater success on a number of v a r i a b l e s . For adul t s , the exception is Faulkner's (1975) comparison of the careers of musicians and hockey p layers , in which s imi lar 'career contingencies' were noted. 53 Athletes are not the only people to be involved with careers that may be considered to be *age graded' . For example, fashion models, lawyers, s c i e n t i s t s , i n d u s t r i a l executives, s t r i p p e r s , dancers, actors and actresses , teachers, engineers and technica l s p e c i a l i s t s , and astronauts have been "urged to recognize and face up to the career dilemmas of becoming occupat ional ly and b i o l o g i c a l l y older" (p. 552). In order to make conclusive statements about the adjustment d i f f i c u l t i e s involved in retirement from competitive sport , comparisons with non-athletes and with other t r a n s i t i o n a l experiences are e s s e n t i a l . A re la ted problem is the need to consider c r o s s - c u l t u r a l d i f f erences . While the ava i lab le research is predominantly American, studies from Czechoslovakia (Svoboda & Vanek, 1983) and Yugoslavia (Mihov i lov ic , 1968) are r e l i e d upon heavi ly in the l i t e r a t u r e . In a d d i t i o n , there are studies from B r i t a i n (Houlston, 1984; Vamplew, 1984), Canada (Werthner & O r l i c k , 1983), I srae l (Semyonov, 1984), and Poland (Pawlak, 1984). There are undoubted di f ferences in the sport systems, not to mention the s o c i a l , p o l i t i c a l , and economic environments of these countr ies , p a r t i c u l a r l y di f ferences between those of the West and the Soviet b loc . These studies have potent ia l for adding to the information about the experience of r e t i r i n g from sport but appropriate comparisons and contrasts should be drawn before the l i t e r a t u r e assumes that the studies can be general ized to a l l a th le tes . Another problem with the research Is i t s lack of 54 comparisons of experience according to gender. The research has a v i r t u a l l y exclusive focus on the experience of male athletes (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985; Coakley, 1983). Notable exceptions are the work reported by A l l i s o n and Meyer (1988), Pawlak (1984), Werthner and O r l i c k (1983), and Brown (1983), the l a t t e r c i t ed by McPherson (1984). Comparisons between the retirement experiences of male and female athletes are lacking in the l i t e r a t u r e . The methods employed in the inves t iga t ion of retirement from an a t h l e t i c career are t y p i c a l l y quant i ta t i ve . This approach has not been adequate for the t o p i c . One reason is that researchers have experienced l imi ted success in t rac ing the whereabouts of former a th le tes , a population which appears to be h ighly mobile and e lus ive for survey purposes. Furthermore, respondents are l i k e l y to be a se lect group and are not necessar i ly representat ive of the general population of r e t i r e d a th le tes . A second reason th i s approach has been inadequate i s that much of the research has s t r i v e n to e s tab l i sh cause and effect re la t ionsh ips in the retirement experience. For example, H i l l and Lowe (1974) have used Sussman's (1972) model to explore the various influences involved in the experience. Likewise, Reynolds (1981), with l i t t l e success, has devised a model of a number of factors which might influence the second career job s a t i s f a c t i o n of r e t i r e d a th le tes . In add i t i on , two sets of research hypotheses have recent ly been of fered . Rosenberg (1984) has adopted a s o c i a l 55 psychological approach and Coakley (1983) has offered a set of hypotheses from the perspective of s o c i a l - s t r u c t u r a l cons iderat ions . While the enumeration of p o t e n t i a l l y i n f l u e n t i a l factors may be he lpfu l in adding to the understanding of the context of an i n d i v i d u a l ' s experience, these approaches s t r i v e for pred ic t ion of an outcome. Research into the experience of unemployment has followed s imi lar s trateg ies but, given the numerous factors which may affect such t r a n s i t i o n a l experiences, i t has become apparent that attempts at pred ic t ion are premature. As Feather and O'Brien (1986a) have noted: It i s becoming evident that simple general izat ions that apply to a l l people w i l l not be possible given the range of var iables that can moderate the effects of being e i ther employed or without a job and the fact that neither the employed nor the unemployed can be assumed to be undi f ferent ia ted or homogeneous groups (p. 122). The consequence of the mistaken notion that a s t r i n g of co-inc identa l factors can define an experience i s that the experience Is known only In terms of those factors and is not known for i t s e l f . Quant i tat ive approaches are , by nature, inappropriate for gaining f u l l d e s c r i p t i v e accounts of a l i f e experience such as retirement from a career in sport . Some researchers have included q u a l i t a t i v e e f for t s in the ir studies (e .g . A l l i s o n & Meyer, 1988; Bookbinder, 1955; Faulkner, 1975; Houlston, 1984; M i h o v i l o v i c , 1968; Smith, 1987; Smith & Diamond, 1976; Weinberg & Arond, 1952; Wilcox, 1986). However, the intent of these researchers has not been to 56 capture a f u l l de scr ip t ion of the experiences of the ir informants. A l l i s o n and Meyer (1988) have been emphatic in s ta t ing the need for q u a l i t a t i v e methodologies to be employed in invest igat ions of th i s t o p i c . Furthermore, there has been a very recent c a l l for the general use of ethnographic methods in the socio logy of sport (Gallmeier, 1989). To gain a better understanding of the experience of r e t i r i n g from sport , an ethnographic approach may be more he lp fu l because i t is more concerned with understanding an experience than pred ic t ing (Agar, 1986). Another issue is that research has not shown concern for Indiv idual d l f ferences in experience. P a r t i c u l a r l y lacking is considerat ion of the personal and the s o c i a l circumstances in which an i n d i v i d u a l ' s retirement takes place . Thus, there i s a need for research which examines not only the ef fects of retirement from sport but the contexts in which retirement occurs. Further to t h i s point i s a need to move away from cross - s ec t iona l studies and toward long i tud ina l s tudies , which w i l l place the retirement experience within a l i f e span developmental context. Toward th i s end, McPherson (1984) has proposed a l i s t of some 16 potent ia l research questions. A f i n a l and major confound to research in th i s area is that the response rates and the sampling s trateg ies of the various surveys have often been d i sappoint ing , cast ing further doubt on the representativeness of the work (e .g . 57 Houlston, 1984; Lerch , 1981; Pawlak, 1984; Reynolds, 1981). Rosenberg's (1981a) response