Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Context: Empirical and anecdotal evidence suggest that many athletic trainers were former athletes and select the profession due to its affiliation with sport. Qualitative research has indicated that collegiate athletic trainers may have a strong athletic identity, but the concept of athletic identity has not been quantified in this population.

Objective: To quantitatively asses the athletic identity of collegiate athletic trainers and determine if group differences exist.

Design: Cross-sectional observational study.

Setting: Collegiate clinical setting.

Patients and other participants: A total of 257 (n = 93 (37%) males, n = 162 (63%) females) athletic trainers employed in the collegiate setting were included in data analysis.

Main outcome measure(s): Data were collected via a web-based survey platform which was designed to measure athletic identity. Demographic information was analyzed for frequency and distribution. Mann-Whitney U tests and Kruskal-Wallis tests were calculated to determine if group differences existed.

Results: The large majority of participants (90%) self-identified as having participated in organized sport yet scored moderately on the athletic identity measurement scale (22.9 ± 7.9). There were no sex differences in overall athletic identity (p = .446), but females did have higher levels of negative affectivity (p = .045) than males. Testing also revealed group differences based on current employment setting for social identity (p = .020), with NCAA Division I scores less than Division II, III, and NAIA. NCAA Division III exclusivity (p = .030) was lower than NCAA Division II and NAIA.

Conclusions: It appears that components of athletic identity vary based on the employment setting of collegiate athletic trainers and may have a relationship to the number of hours worked in the summer. The moderate athletic identity scores of collegiate athletic trainers are comparable to former athletes who selected career paths outside of sport. This may indicate adaptive career decision processes.


Version posted is the Online first.






Journal of Athletic Training


Allen Press



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