Life in elite sport

Keywords: meaning, career transition, professional/elite athlete, mental health, well-being


Empirical research which aims to investigate elite sport from a holistic perspective (Magnusson & Stattin, 2006; Wylleman, 2019) is necessary to inform the ethical discussions surrounding issues such as performance and optimization. This symposium, therefore, intends to capture the complex trajectories of athlete’s lived experience from multiple angles and disciplines within the area of sport science. Starting from a psychological understanding, Philip Röthlin will introduce the prevalence of mental health disorders among Swiss elite athletes along with relevant contributing factors such as need satisfaction and organizational support. Colm Hickey will unearth how professional elite athletes are affected by abuse disguised as jokes in their daily lives from a sociological perspective. Helena Hlasová will explore retirement from elite sport through the lens of Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans & Kempen, 1993) and uncover the implicit ways in which elite athletes may or may not engage in “identity work” while transitioning out of their careers. Finally, Violetta Oblinger-Peters will present on how Olympic athletes find and create personal meaning(s) in their sport and discuss how the scientific concept translates into tangible support for athletes. Overall, the symposium intends to generate transferable knowledge of athletes’ lived reality in elite sport.


Hermans, H. J. M., & Kempen, H. J. G. (1993). The dialogical self: Meaning as movement. Academic Press.

Magnusson, D., & Stattin, H. (2006). The person in context: A holistic-interactionistic approach. In W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. Theoretical models of human development (6th ed., pp. 400–464). Wiley.

Wylleman, P., Reints, A., & De Knop, P. (2013). A developmental and holistic perspective on athletic career development. In P. Sotiriadou & V. De Bosscher (Eds.), Managing high performance sport (pp. 159–182). Routledge.

How to Cite
Ronkainen, N. J., & Oblinger-Peters, V. (2023). Life in elite sport. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS), 8(2), 072.