From an Eriksonian perspective of the Life Span Psychosocial theory, finding meaning in life is of critical importance during middle and late adulthood to promote personal growth and optimal human functioning. Using a person-centered approach, we aimed to identify distinct profiles of meaning in life from former athletes aged 40-65 years old. We also assessed how these profiles differed according to well-being measures to better understand the impact of having meaning in life (or the lack thereof) on individuals’ psychosocial functioning. While the benefits of participating in intercollegiate athletics are numerous, it has been noted that the athletic environment may not offer an optimal context for the development of a psychosocial identity and future adjustments to life transitions. Given the scant research on the well-being of former athletes, we conducted a cluster analysis on a sample of 394 former NCAA college athletes using the two subscales of Meaning Life Questionnaire (i.e., presence and search) and performed MANOVA to assess differences in the resulting clusters on well-being outcomes. Based on the four-cluster solution that we deemed to be the best solution, we found that individuals assigned to a cluster characterized by high presence of meaning and low search for meaning in life exhibited significantly better career and psychosocial functioning than those assigned to a cluster characterized by low presence of meaning and high search for meaning in life. The absence of meaning in life appeared to significantly diminish the subjective and psychological well-being of former athletes in middle and late adulthood.
Adjunct Professor, Department of Sport Management, University of Florida, United States Yoonki Chun
Student, Ph.D., University of Florida, Florida, United States Michael Sagas
Professor, Sport Management, University of Florida, Florida, United States
Meaning in Life, Person-Centered Approach, Well-Being, Former Collegiate Athletes, Adulthood