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Examining the Outcomes of Sport Specialization for Individual Athletes and the Industry
In North America, sport specialization for young athletes has become a prerequisite for sport achievement, but academics have yet to explore the effects that sport specialization has on athletes’ consumption and participation patterns. Thus, this project explores the following research question: what are the effects of sport specialization on the individual volleyball athlete in terms of: i) patterns of participation in sport (past, present, and future); and ii) consumption patterns in the sport industry? The methodological approach was to interview current and retired volleyball players aged 18 to 30 in Calgary, Alberta. The questions were designed to ask participants how they spend their time and money during and after sport specialization. The findings indicate that early specialization in volleyball directly impacts an athlete’s patterns of participation and consumption in the sport of volleyball and the sport industry broadly. Many participants articulated that due to specialized training they became lost in the identity of a “volleyball player,” and when they ceased participation in the sport they found that they had not been participating for their own intrinsic values but for extrinsic values placed on them by their coaches, parents, teammates, and other invested stakeholders. Participants also indicated that their specialization years developed specialized knowledge in sport, a unique analytical consumption experience that influences present and future sport consumption. The findings are a call to action for the volleyball industry to evaluate the participation and consumption patterns in specialized volleyball training and implement changes to benefit specialized athletes and the industry.
Sport specializationParticipationConsumptionSport industryVolleyball
Undergraduate Student Research