“What am I doing here?” Experiences of unsuccessful and delayed successful crisis transitions during athlete migration

Emily Cartigny*, Grace Harrison, Emma Vickers, Paul Potrac

*Corresponding author for this work

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While the performance and lifestyle motivations of student-athletes to embark on transnational migration have been the focus of increasing research, challenging and problematic aspects of their migration have received surprisingly limited exploration. In response, the aims of the current research were: (1) to further explore the athlete’s experience of crisis migration transition, and (2) to understand the socio-psychological mechanisms that precede and feature in crisis transitions. To achieve these aims, this study addressed the crisis transitions and cultural migration experiences of eight female basketball players, who moved from the United Kingdom to the United States to take up a university-based sports scholarship. Retrospective, in-depth interviews were analysed using narrative thematic analysis and two realist accounts were developed to emphasise the social structures that can meaningfully impact the participants’ experiences of this transition. The analysis illuminates the importance of pre-transition planning, understanding the environment before transition, and an accommodating host environment in supporting coping for international student-athletes. Relatedly, the findings highlight the importance of support from national governing bodies to prepare athletes for migration, and US college sports programmes in recognising crisis transition in international student-athletes. Furthermore, through the focus on the crisis transition process, the findings help to advance the cultural transition model and provide the basis for future inquiry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Early online date16 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Mar 2023

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