The main mission for young people in sport is to develop their potential to the highest level of excellence. The need to capture young people and to nurture their potential necessitates specialized sport schools to accommodate this need of young people to pursue excellence in their sport. Tertiary institutions are also in alignment with this development to accommodate talented and high level sport participants to create a special environment to follow a dual career. Sport and academic demands create a challenging environment in terms of balancing athletics, academics, and other social roles. The extreme demands and stressors of the learner-athletes are well documented in the literature. The main concern of this study is based on how these extra demands impact on the psychological well-being of the learner-athlete. This concern necessitated the current study to explore the phenomenon of identity foreclosure in a sport school setting and tertiary institutions. The identity foreclosure phenomenon is an identity status defined by the premature ending of self-exploration and self-definition (Marcia, 1966). The study included 10 learner-athletes from the age of 17 years to 20 years. The data was collected using the semi-structured one-on-one interviews. Using the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), the following themes emerged: The love of sport and how the love of sport developed, social support, emotional attachment and obsession with sport, envisaged life without sport, living a balanced lifestyle, spending too much time in sport and sport’s values transference. The findings had managed to meet all three study objectives: To explore how high athletic identity (intense identity) for sport can develop into identity foreclosure; to uncover the psychosocial factors that may contribute to the susceptibility of identity foreclosure; and to explore the role of obsessive passion in the phenomenon of identity foreclosure.
Dissertation (MA (Research Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2021.