“She is where I’d want to be in my career” : Youth athletes’ role models and their implications for career and identity construction
Ronkainen, N. J., Ryba, T. V., & Selänne, H. (2019). “She is where I’d want to be in my career” : Youth athletes’ role models and their implications for career and identity construction. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 45, Article 101562. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2019.101562
Published inPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Embargoed until: 2021-12-01Request copy from author
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd.
Objectives While role models have been documented to play a vital role in adolescents’ career development and identity exploration, in sport psychology they remain an untapped resource. The present study drew on narrative inquiry to explore the patterns of role model selection by adolescent student-athletes and the narrative maps these role models provide for self-construction. As a second objective, the study sought to understand the impact of gender on the selection and meaning of role models. Method Eighteen Finnish student-athletes (10 women, eight men) aged 17-18 participated in conversational interviews. We analysed the data with thematic and structural narrative analyses. Results The participants identified two types of role models: elite athletes and family members. Whereas young men were more likely to select the most well-known athlete superstars, young women were more concerned about the relationship and similarities between the role model and the self, engaging in more exploration to find a role model that matched their needs. Most of the youth athletes rejected the totalitarian ideologies of elite sport and chose role models who could have other identities and do other things alongside sport. Conclusions Finnish youth athletes are inspired by athlete role models whose lives are not completely constituted by performance narratives of elite sport. From an applied perspective, role models could be incorporated into career counselling with athletes to support identity development and exploration of future selves. ...