Post-retirement re-socializing and adaptation challenges faced by sport elite: questionnaire survey

PhD, Associate Professor I.V. Fedotova1
Dr.Med., Professor M.E. Statsenko2
PhD I.S. Tamozhnikova1
1Volgograd State Academy of Physical Culture, Volgograd
2Volgograd State Medical University, Volgograd

Keywords: re-socializing challenges, former sport elite, post-retirement adaptation (PRA).

Background. Modern elite athletes comprise a special social group that enjoys, on the peak of its competitive form, high social recognition and demonstrates high fortitude and willpower – and at the same time and for the same reasons is highly vulnerable in the post-retirement transitional period when the lifelong goals, standards and values appear no more relevant and new lifestyle needs to be built up from a scratch on a totally different basis. No wonder that retired athletes are often diagnosed with the growing de-adaptation and frustration levels [2, 6] and known to be highly exposed to the risks of health disorders and limitations (due to the past sport-related injuries), unemployment, marginalization, impoverishment, social conflicts, isolation, loneliness etc. [2]. The individual re-socializing projects, therefore, shall be designed to help the individuals fit into the relevant social behavioral standards and cultural values and priorities for effective adaptation and social progress [3].

Objective of the study was to analyze, based on a questionnaire survey, the post-retirement re-socializing challenges faced by the sport elite.

Methods and structure of the study. The questionnaire survey was designed on a case study basis, with 102 individual cases being analyzed to find the typical positive and negative aspects of the post-retirement adaptation processes.

Results and discussion. The case study data may be classified into the following two arrays: (1) positive post-retirement adaptation process aspects and (2) negative post-retirement adaptation process aspects. It was only natural to expect different post-retirement health/ socializing issues including the physical/ mental health disorders and social conflicts [6-8]. The actual survey data helped diagnose a variety of such issues in the sample including the addictions to alcohol and tobacco, chronic diseases, obesity, sleeping disorders and socializing challenges [5, 8]. The early post-retirement issues faced by the sample may be largely attributed to the mental challenges of the post-retirement adaptation period with the mood swings, symptoms of depression, high need for support from families and special psychological support services immediately upon the retirement [6]. The mental issues behind the regressive changes in the post-retirement adaptation period may trigger bad habits and aggression – all the more that many athletes believe they can no more be healthy enough without the habitual trainings and competitions. The group-specific health issues are dominated by the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular system disorders and diseases that may be easily aggravated by the still deficient or ineffective medical and social services to the retired athletes [4, 7]. It should be noted that the study found no negative social aspects in the post-retirement adaptation processes in the sample – may be due to the fact that it was focused on the early post-retirement adaptation phase only, and there are many reasons to believe that with time the diagnosed physical and mental health issues may evolve into the post-retirement socializing problems for the former athletes.

Sampled for the questionnaire survey to analyze the health/ social issues faced by the retired athletes in the early post-retirement adaptation period were 364 elite former athletes who were requested to fill in a questionnaire survey form of our own design. A special priority in the survey form was given to the post-retirement re-socializing issues, particularly at the early post-retirement adaptation stages.

The survey found 66% of the sample reporting changes in their diets, with 26% reportedly eating more, 19% having no more limitations in their diets, and 20% totally negligent to diets and eating on an irregular basis. As reported by O.S. Kogan (2006), many athletes never revise their nutritional regimes and diets at the early post-retirement adaptation stage and stick to their habitual high-calorific diets. As a result, they very tend to develop metabolic disorders and obesity, very serious in some cases [1, 2]. On the whole, the former athletes reluctant to revise their diets in the post-retirement adaptation period were diagnosed by the above study with nutritional disorders in 99% of the cases that expose them to the high risk of obesity, with 57% of such athletes facing metabolic disorders and weight control issues in the first five years upon retirement from sports.

In our sample 62% reported weight excess issues and 46% addiction to tobacco. Individual post-retirement lifestyles are known to be determined by the habitual leisure time models, studies or jobs if any and the relevant social environments. Our questionnaire survey found 35% of the sample reportedly working or learning and having fair social relationships at work or university/ college. However, only 134 (37%) of sample (n=364) reported being employed, 98 (27%) learning and 49 (14%) combining studies with jobs; whilst 83 (23%) people reported neither working nor learning.

On the whole, the study data give the grounds to classify the post-retirement adaptation process aspects into the positive (trainings for new jobs, education, employment etc.) and negative (addictions to alcohol and tobacco; complications of the sport-related injuries; changes in the diets and socializing issues) ones.

Conclusion. The study found some negative re-socializing issues in the early post-retirement process including health disorders and addictions (to alcohol and tobacco); sleeping disorders; body weight growths; and the growing communication difficulties at work that may be considered predictors of the de-adaptive disorders in the physical and social health triggered by the retirement from active sports. The mental and physical health disorders may evolve with time into serious antisocial issues in the post-retirement re-socializing process of the former sport elite – and they need to be addressed by the relevant post-retirement health control, psychological and social support initiatives.

References

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Corresponding author: d2264@mail.ru

Abstract

Modern elite athletes comprise a special social group that enjoys, on the peak of its competitive form, high social recognition and demonstrates high fortitude and willpower – and at the same time and for the same reasons is highly vulnerable in the post-retirement transitional period when the lifelong goals, standards and values appear no more relevant and new lifestyle needs to be built up from scratch on a totally different basis. The article analyzes the post-retirement re-socializing challenges faced by the sport elite in the first five years upon retirement from active trainings and competitions. We used a special questionnaire survey form to find the health and social problems faced by the elite athletes at that time. Sampled for the survey were 364 newly retired elite athletes whose re-socializing processes and challenges were tested by 102 case studies with a special attention to their health disorders and addictions (alcohol and tobacco); sleeping disorders; body weight growth; and the growing communication difficulties at work that may be considered predictors of the de-adaptive disorders in the physical and social health triggered by retirement from active sports. The mental and physical health disorders may evolve with time into serious antisocial issues in the post-retirement re-socializing process of the former sport elite.