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Off the Basketball Court
A Case Study of Female Athletes' Experience of School Admission and Career Development
Past research has shown that athletes’ career dilemmas may be caused by their academic problems and insufficient support from teachers, advisors or school administrators. Gender, however, though it obviously plays an important role in many aspects of life, has seldom been recognized as a critical factor influencing female athletes’ career development. This research project set out to explore the female athletes’ experience of school admission and career choices, more specifically to their career opportunities in specialized field. To this end, in-depth interviews of eight elite female athletes were conducted. The results indicated that the career dream of informants in general tended to “shift down” from “league players” and “players on a national level” to “physical education teachers,” while those who could not succeed in becoming physical education teachers adapted to other jobs, including positions as part-time coaches, editors, cosmetologists, sales clerks, service representatives, and various part-time jobs based on the individual situation. It was found that female athletes’ career development was framed by the material conditions of their daily lives, the existing educational policies, and the nature of the contracts between and among the athlete, the school, and enterprises sponsoring school varsity teams. In addition, although female athletes’ career choices in specialized field were limited, informants working out their own career paths performed personal agency in relation to social structure. Suggestions for enhancing the educational experiences of today’s female athletes were also offered by the researchers.
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