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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 26 Career Termination among Athletes JIM TAYLOR and BRUCE C. OGILVIE Athletic participation is characterized by glorious peaks and debilitating valleys. The range of events and emotions experienced by athletes seems to be extreme compared to the normal population. Perhaps the most significant and potentially traumatic experience encountered by athletes is career termination. Moreover, termination from sports in- volves a variety of unique experiences that sets it apart from typical retirement concerns, including the early age of career termination, the need to find another career to pur- sue, and diverse ways in which athletes choose to or are forced to leave their sport. The terms termination, retirement, and transition have been used in the study of the career-ending experiences of athletes (Blinde & Greendorfer, 1985; Ogilvie & Howe, 1982; J. Taylor & Ogilvie, 1998; Werthner & Orlick, 1982). To ensure consistency of meaning, termination and retire- ment are used interchangeably throughout this chapter be- cause they are more widely used and do not relate to a specific theoretical explanation of this process. In addition, both terms are consistent with research outside of sport. In response to the apparent significance of this issue, during the past 25 years, there has been a small but steady stream of anecdotal, theoretical, and empirical accounts of career termination among athletes (Botterill, 1982; Hoffer, 1990; Morrow, 1978; Ogilvie & Howe, 1982; Werthner & Orlick, 1982). These articles have brought attention to the potential difficulties of athletic retirement, provided expla- nations for the retirement process, and offered evidence of the nature of the athletic termination process. Career termination has received considerable attention in the popular press. These reports typically are anecdotal accounts of professional athletes who had either a success- ful (Batten, 1979; White, 1974) or an unsuccessful (Alfano, 1982; Bradley, 1976; Elliott, 1982; Hoffer, 1990; Jordan, 1975; Kahn, 1972; Plimpton, 1977; P. Putnam, 1991; Stephens, 1984; Vecsey, 1980) career termination experi- ence. Based on the large proportion of these articles that suggest termination difficulties, which include alcohol and drug abuse and criminal behavior, it might be concluded that career termination distress is a widespread phenome- non. However, because these accounts are anecdotal and have not employed the scientific method to determine the veracity and generalizability of their conclusions, it is im- possible to make any conclusive judgments about the preva- lence of termination difficulties among athletes. Commensurate interest in athletic career termination began to grow in the sport psychology community. What re- sulted was a variety of scholarly articles by sport psychology professionals based on their own consulting experiences dealing with this issue, available research in the area, and literature from related fields (Botterill, 1982; Broom, 1982; McPherson, 1980; Ogilvie & Howe, 1982; Werthner &...
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