“Everything Was Different”: A Qualitative Study of US Professional Basketball Players’ Experiences Overseas (pp. 251-270)
Authors: Rainer J. Meisterjahn and Craig A. Wrisberg
Abstract: Research on international labor migration in professional sports (e.g., Magee &
Sugden, 2002) suggests that the experiences of athletes in foreign cultures are often
diverse and entail numerous pressures. In order to examine such experiences in greater
depth, existential phenomenological interviews (Thomas & Pollio, 2002) were conducted
with ten current and former professional basketball players, ages 24 to 55, from the US.
Thematic analysis of the interview transcripts produced eight major themes that clearly
characterized participants’ experiences: Learning the Local Mentality, Experiencing
Isolation, Connecting with Others, Exploring the Physical Environment, Dealing with the
Business, Adjusting to Team Resources, Managing Team Dynamics, and Playing the
Game. Taken together, the results suggest that while playing overseas required
participants to manage a variety of cultural and sport-related stressors, it also afforded
them opportunities for personal and professional development.