From legends to legacy: the impact of fan influence on retiring athletes in premier league basketball

Assaf Lev, Orr Levental, Ilan Tamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: This research examines the perceived age of Premier League basketball players as they near retirement, focusing on the complex interplay between players, fans, and the media in shaping perceptions of age and retirement. The study highlights the unique pressure on the basketball players to retire due to age-related expectations, rooted in the perception that athleticism is age dependent. Methods: The research methodology applied in this study involved conducting semi-structured interviews with a sample of 11 professional Israeli basketball players and two veteran players’ agents. Results: Three themes emerged: (1) Feelings of betrayal and ingratitude; (2) A farewell tour toward disengagement from one’s professional career; and (3) The media’s role in shaping beliefs and attitudes. These themes illustrate how the sports environment portrays aging players, shaping fan opinions, both positively and negatively. Significantly, the findings emphasize the challenges that players must confront within an ageist environment. Discussion: The study concludes by highlighting the cultural and social construction at work. The “coercion” to retire from professional sports is more pronounced here due to the common belief that sports success is time-bound and age-dependent, necessitating a “young body”. In this reality, the audience does not merely function as a backdrop for athletes’ performances, but has the power, at the collective and the individual level, to affect change on and off the court.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1295487
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume14
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Israel
  • age
  • basketball
  • body
  • fandom
  • media
  • qualitative study
  • retirement

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