Mind the gap: a grounded theory of dual career pathways in sport

The purpose of this study is to identify and examine individuals’ experiences of and the outcomes of sport and education or vocational development, with the intention to establish an overarching theory of dual career (DC) pathways in sport. Because the contrasting experiences and outcomes of a DC are largely unguided by a theoretical model, the grounded theory method was selected to address the research aim. Seventeen DC athletes took part in a life-story interview; these were analyzed, along with previous literature, to develop a conceptual understanding of the research area. The findings that emerged from this study supported a categorization of DC experiences into 3 pathways: a sporting pathway, an educational/vocational pathway, and a DC pathway. The overarching themes of these pathways were encompassed into 3 vignettes, and the outcomes of each pathway are discussed. The developed grounded theory presents a conceptualization of different DC development pathways, the practical implications likely to be associated with these pathways, and provides a framework for future research.