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A Pilot Study of Exclusivity of Athletic Identity among Wheelchair Rugby Players: Implications for Therapeutic Recreation

Shinichi Nagata


Both congenital and acquired disabilities can impact identity development. Adapted sport participation can foster athletic identity for those with disabilities, but building an identity exclusively around athletic involvement may bring the risk of difficulty adjusting to role loss once an athlete's career ends. The purpose of this study was to examine how exclusivity of athletic identity among wheelchair rugby athletes related to self-esteem, perceived level of competition, length of wheelchair rugby involvement, participation in other sports, age, gender, and marital status. Athletes in the United States (n  = 57) responded to an online questionnaire consisting of the Rosenberg Self- Esteem Scale, the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale, and several demographic items. The results of Pearson's correlation analysis indicated significant relationships between exclusivity and self-esteem (r  = -.433, p  < .01), perception of competitive levels (r  = .317, p  < .05), and length of wheelchair rugby involvement (r  = -.371, p  < .01). Multiple regression analysis indicated that all aforementioned variables were significant predictors (Adjusted R2  =.47, F (4, 51) = 13.06, p  < .01 ). Implications for therapeutic recreation practitioners included the recommended continued use of adapted sport as a modality for identity development, but also the encouragement of identity development in other areas to assist in the transition to life after sport.


athletic identity; exclusivity; therapeutic recreation; wheelchair rugby

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