Title‘Greatness (un)channelled’: the role of sport in the life of an elite athlete who overcame multiple developmental risk factors
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsWhitley, MA, Massey, WV, Leonetti, NM
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Pagination194 - 212
Date Published02/2017

Within under-resourced urban communities, sport is a huge draw for many young males, with a commonly shared belief that sport can lead to a better life. However, there is a paucity of research examining the experience of elite athletes from under-resourced areas. Additionally, there has been insufficient research that examines the interrelated systems impacting youth development (e.g. individuals, families, neighbourhoods, schools), which is needed to understand talent development in sport and personal development through sport. In this article, a qualitative case study will be presented through narrative inquiry. Following a constructionist philosophical orientation, in-depth individual interviews were conducted with a former All-American athlete in one of the major USA sports, along with individuals identified by this athlete as influential during his developmental years (secondary participants). These interviews explored the athlete’s experiences growing up in an under-resourced, violent community, and the role of sport during his childhood and adolescence. While sport was a significant influence in the athlete’s life, his talent development and personal development would have suffered without his faith, family, education, and the influential individuals with whom he interacted during his developmental years.

Short TitleQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health