The Athlete Transition Study

A research survey of athlete experiences during and after their retirement.

We are studying the experiences and outcomes of retired collegiate, professional and Olympic athletes with particular attention to football players. As a survey, the ATS is designed for a large-scale response in order to make clear and factual observations about a host of different variables, including all sports and levels of achievement.

The ATS strives to understand the global quality of life for athletes during and after the retirement process, as well as the circumstances and factors that contribute to various retirement outcomes, and which interventions and people are utilized as support systems.

How is the ATS unique?

The ATS is unique in several regards. It takes a whole-person approach, addressing cognitive, emotional, physical, social, occupational, financial, behavioral, and overall well-being outcomes. It encompasses a wide range of sports, including those with limited funding and notoriety. It looks at all levels of participation, from those who never competed at the elite level through the collegiate, professional and Olympic ranks. In this way, the study can compare athletes across sport, demographics, position played, time played, and levels of participation. Finally, the ATS uses sophisticated online survey methods to streamline the data collection process, thereby saving time for our participants and improve the accuracy and range of our analyses.

Why is this worth studying?

Sport is a worldwide obsession. (2017) indicated an annual global market size of $471 billion.  According to World Bank data, that would make it the 26th largest economy in the world, ahead of Australia, Ireland and Israel.  International Football (Soccer), the world’s most popular sport, has an estimated 3.5 billion fans.  That’s an astonishing 45% of the world population.  Think about that; almost half of the people on the planet are soccer fans.

Our love of sport may be lifelong, but our interest in specific athletes usually comes to an abrupt end when they retire.  Many assume that athletes leave their sports happy and satisfied; they’ve made their fortunes, and can now expect an easy transition to a leisurely life.  But that’s not always the case.  Many retired athletes face daily struggles including addiction, debilitating cognitive or health issues, or chronic pain.  The researchers of the ATS want to discover what really happens to athletes during their transition out of elite sport and over the course of their lives after competition.  

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