|Published online: June 17, 2014||$US5.00|
The context of current elite sports participation has led to widespread interest in the career transitions, both abrupt (non-normative) and normative, faced by athletes throughout their careers. Despite increasing recognition of the importance of higher education to facilitate sports–career transitions, there has been little research on the structure and delivery of such programs in order to reduce the barriers to the engagement of elite athletes in higher education. This exploratory research evaluates a single professional development program for players within the New Zealand elite rugby environment. Eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted with elite rugby player-students, academic contributors, and program coordinators. Thematic analysis of respondents’ perspectives generated key themes of: flexible and relevant program design, the right people, and comprehension of the various roles. Collectively, these form a higher order theme of creating the optimal environment. Acknowledging the context, building on existing strengths and providing appropriate support combine to form the second higher order theme of empowering the individuals. We relate these themes to the potential for appropriate educational qualifications to ease sports–career transitions. Finally, we provide suggestions for improving elite athletes’ access to and engagement with higher education.
|Keywords:||Rugby, Higher Education, Career Transition, Elite Sports|
Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education, Volume 5, Issue 1, December 2014, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 17, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 329.083KB)).
External Facilitator, Student Internships, Dean’s Office, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand
Senior Lecturer, Department of Strategy and Human Resource Management, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand
BMS/BSpLS Graduate, University of Waikato, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand