Little literature, until recently, has focused on identity formation through the research of the role of student-athlete; however, over the last ten years, researchers from different disciplines have investigated identity formation among college students involved in competitive sports (Miller & Kerr, 2003). According to the NCAA (2012), over 460,000 college student participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and these student-athletes face many challenges throughout their collegiate careers. As noted by Heird and Steinfeldt (2011), student-athletes are confronted with demands such as balancing athletics and academics, their physical well-being and injuries, athletic achievement or lack of achievement, and relationships with friends, family, and coaches. The times demands that these students deal with are a challenge in themselves which often cause these students to focus more on their athletic sport than their student obligations. Athletic identity is an important part of the student-athletes multidimensional self and can have positive and negative affects on the students. These student-athletes posses multiple identities and sometimes have trouble identifying with both student and athlete. Athletic identity consists of the behavioral, affective, cognitive, and social aspects of identifying with the athletic role and many collegiate student-athletes are susceptible to having a strong, exclusive athletic identity (Murphy, Petitpas, & Brewer, 1996; Tyrance, Harris, & Post, 2013). Research has identified that student-athletes may suffer negative consequences in nonathletic areas of their life if they over identify with their athletic role (Herid & Steinfeldt, 2011).
The importance of identity development in college students is evident through theories created and research conducted on this group. In late adolescence, the formation, or establishment, of a sense of identity is one of the most critical developmental challenges that individuals face (Miller & Kerr, 2003). As cited by Heird and Steinfeldt (2013), more time and energy will be given to developing the athletic identity if this identity receives more recognition and acknowledgement than other identities causing the individual to sacrifice other aspects of their life. This issue can lead to numerous problems, particularly in student-athletes who put more emphasis on one aspect of their identity then the other. Many difficulties lie in finding a balance between these two very important aspects of identity.
Identity Foreclosure and Career Maturity
Athletic identity has been shown to be positively associated with identity foreclosure (Murphy et al., 1996). Identity foreclosure in student-athletes has been a growing topic of interest among researchers over the past many years. It is regarded as a strong ideological or occupational commitment without adequate exploration or planning or without experiencing an identity crisis, which is defined as a period of active...