Reviewing the Play: A Mixed Methods Exploration of Athletic Identity in the Lives of Black Male Student-Athletes

Xisto, Andrea, Clinical Psychology - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Bradshaw, Catherine, CU-Human Svcs, University of Virginia

The contributions of Black male student-athletes in revenue-generating sports add culture, achievement, pride, and immense financial gain to historically White institutions. But for all that these student-athletes contribute, more research is needed regarding their own wellbeing. A growing body of research specifically examines the role of athletic identity in the lived experiences and trajectories of Black male student-athletes. This dissertation, which utilized Critical Race Theory as a theoretical framework, extends the literature through three separate studies. Paper 1 of the dissertation, an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) of the lived experiences of eight high school student-athletes of color, elucidated specific benefits (e.g., relational connection, hope) and liabilities (e.g., identity foreclosure) indicated by the participants as characterizing their athletic involvement. Paper 2, a scoping review of the extant literature on the psychological wellbeing of Black male student-athletes, addressed the unique stressors faced by Black male student-athletes that can impact mental health, while also identifying gaps in the literature and future directions for research. Paper 3, a regression analysis of data from the 2006 NCAA GOALS study, indicated differences across race in student-athlete self-reported degree of athletic identity and career aspirations, with African American racial identity being more strongly associated with higher levels of reported athletic identity and higher odds of believing in the likelihood of attaining a career in professional sports after graduation. Implications for student-athletes, athletics departments, and universities are discussed.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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