Construction and Development of Athletic Identity through the Lifespan
Ina Harizanova, Illinois School of Professional Psychology, USA
Theme: Developmental/lifespan perspectives
Poster Number: 97
Program ID: POS-2
Presentation: October 4, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Having a degree of athletic identity is associated with continued sport participation and high athletic achievement, and it can contribute to better health and fitness. Negative consequences of a strong and exclusive athletic identity include over-training, identity foreclosure and traumatic transition out of sport. Applying psychosocial developmental theory and self-psychology concepts, this theoretical research project explores the unique features of construction, development, maintenance and transformation of athletic identity from an early to old age. The individual's needs and major environmental factors in each psychosocial developmental stage are examined. This thesis advocates a holistic approach to one's development and age-appropriate teaching and learning. It emphasizes the need to gain an understanding about the world of athletics, as it can offer various opportunities for growth and learning. It is critical to examine its main elements such as coaches, administrators, media, fans and the culture of professionalism, productivity and conformity and their powerful impact on those involved in sports. While it is the parents' responsibility to find a safe athletic environment with high quality of training, the responsibility of coaches, managers and administrators is to provide age-appropriate teaching and learning concerned with the development of the whole individual. The recommended holistic approach views the athlete as a human being first. Ethnic/racial diversity factors, in particular Cross' and Helm's models (Ponterotto et al., 1995), are included and their interplay with athletic identity is examined. The athlete's environment needs to encourage him/her to develop a multidimensional identity and balanced lifestyle with close relationships and interests in and outside of sports, keep a realistic view of his/her athletic career, plan for life after sports, and assist the athlete in the post-athletic transition. Practical implications include recommendations for parents and professionals working in the athletic field such as teachers, coaches, therapists, and sport administrators.