Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


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First Advisor

Richard M. Southall


Previous empirical inquiry of athletic identity (Brewer, Van Raalte, Linder, 1993) and participation has failed to examine how such identities and roles are developed at the high school level of competition. While focusing on salient athletic identities or role sets are important, research literature should target how devotion to athletic identities, roles, and responsibilities are developed and communicated to adolescent athletes by social interactions. Therefore, while adopting Narrative Identity Theory (Loseke, 2007; McAdams & McLean, 2013; Polkinghorne, 1991; Smith 2010) as an appropriate lens, the current study investigated how athletic identity, roles, and responsibilities are developed through complex interaction and temporal lived experiences. Specifically, through ethnographic interviews and participant observation, the current study explored the lived experiences of Black high school football players to investigate salient athletic identity development through personal narrative co-construction (Franck & Stamboluva, 2019).

Guided by the purpose of the study, the current study answered two fundamental questions: (1) When engaging with a sample of Black male high school football players, in what wats do personal narratives construct athletic identity? (2) How are phenomena such as salient athletic identification and athletic role engulfment (Kidd et al., 2018) present when exploring the academic enrichment and development of non-athletic social skills of study participants? As a participant observer, the researcher was able to establish the weight room as the narrative scene encouraging salient athletic identification through beastly and savage rhetoric (Hawkins, 2017). In addition, a three-dimensional narrative

approach to data collection was employed to establish four narrative themes suggestive of salient athletic identity and its influence on academic enrichment and non-athletic social skills. The four narratives themes were the (a) youth football as an early interactional- performative narrative, (b) juggling athletics over academics narrative, (c) pre-exposure to professionalism of sport narrative, (d) and social media celebrity narrative. The results provided a fresh and unique inquiry into high school sport, while applying an unfamiliar theoretical and analytical approach to qualitative studies in sport literature. To conclude, implications and other pertinent information will be introduced in the discussion.