The relationship between athletic identity and physical activity levels after retirement from collegiate sports

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Erin J. Reifsteck (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Diane Gill

Abstract: Self-identity is important in the transition into retirement from collegiate sports, and athletic identity is a major source of self-identity for athletes. Given that research reveals a positive relationship between athletic identity and physical activity, but other research argues that dissolving athletic identity is necessary for a smooth transition from college sports, it seems there is a paradox when it comes to athletic identity and continued engagement in physical activity after retirement. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of athletic identity to physical activity levels after college sport participation. Former Division I athletes from a southeastern university (n=59) completed the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS), the Athletic Identity Questionnaire (AIQ), the Godin Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire, and several additional measures. Correlations and multiple regressions were used to analyze relationships between athletic identity and physical activity measures, and MANOVA was used to investigate gender differences. Both the AIMS (r = .360, p < .01) and the AIQ (r = .529, p < .001) measures of athletic identity were positively correlated with physical activity levels; but surprisingly, the AIQ and AIMS were not significantly related (r = .058) to each other. The AIMS was related to the participants' self-ratings of athletic identity and to greater perceived difficulty with the transition into retirement. Contrary to previous research findings, there were no gender differences in athletic identity, F(2, 53)= .814, p= .449, or physical activity levels, F(1, 53)= .626, p= .432. The results indicate that athletic identity is positively related to engagement in physical activity. However, the two most widely-used measures of athletic identity seem to be conceptually different and show differing relationships to physical activity and retirement difficulties. The AIMS, a sport-specific measure of athletic identity that emphasizes competitive athletics, was related to difficulties with transition, whereas the broader-based AIQ was a stronger predictor of physical activity. Participant responses to open-ended items about their athletic identity and physical activity engagement are also discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Athletic identity, College athletes, Physical activity, Retirement
College athletes $x Retirement $z United States
Sports $x Psychological aspects

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