Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Open Access Thesis


Sports injuries--Psychological aspects; College athletes--Wounds and injuries; Body image; Commitment (Psychology); Burn out (Psychology);


Injury is a risk that all athletes face while participating in sport. How injuries affect athletes perceived body image, sport commitment levels, and burnout levels are not yet fully understood. Athletes are aware of what the media portrays an athlete as, aware of what peers think an athlete should look like, and even have their own pre-conceived notions as to what an athlete’s body should look like. Many athletes perceive their bodies to be appropriate for their sport, yet there is dissatisfaction with their own bodies in the context of what is socially considered to be attractive. A distorted body image may possibly lead to an eating disorder. Body image is the subjective picture or mental image on one’s own body. To date, no research has examined the role of injury and how it affects an athletes body image. The sport commitment model was developed to explain factors related to continued motivation for participation in sport or physical activity. Sport commitment is defined as the “desire and resolve to continue participation.” Very little previous research has examined the role of injury and sport commitment levels. Burnout can be defined as a psychological, emotional, and physical withdrawal from an activity or sport because there is no other perceived way to escape the situation and the related overwhelming stress levels. Very few studies have specifically examined the connection between an injury and resulting burnout syndrome. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of injury on the perceived body image, sport commitment, and burnout levels of athletes from a longitudinal perspective. A total of 285 athletes were examined over an academic year on their perceived body image, sport commitment, and burnout. No significant differences emerged between injured and non-injured athletes for perceived body image and sport commitment. However, injured athletes did report greater emotional/physical exhaustion and reduced sense of accomplishment than did non-injured athletes at Time 1. In regards to changes over time, none of the athletes had significant changes over time, none of the athletes had significant changes in perceived body image across the academic year regardless of injury status. In contrast, all athletes did have a significant decrease in sport commitment from Time 1 to Time 3. Additionally, injured athletes did have a significant decrease in perceptions of reduced accomplishment, and an increase in perceived devaluation of sport. Lastly, for the athletes that sustained an injury during the course of the study, no significant changes occurred in regards to body image, sport commitment, and burnout from Time 1 to Time 2 and from Time 2 to Time 3. Future research should be conducted to examine the trends related to perceived body image when injury occurs. Research should also explore the possible link between injury and body image, specifically the contributing factors to perceived body image (e.g., perfectionism, exercise dependence, & perceived loss of control). Future research should replicate and extend the current study to include additional predictors of burnout and commitment. Future research should also examine potential factors that influence sport commitment over time.

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Windee M. Weiss

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 96 pages)



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