“He Just Wanted Everything to Be Perfect, Me to Be Perfect”: U.S. NCAA Division I Daughter-Athletes’ Experiences of the Father–Daughter Relationship

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Little empirical research has been done on the father–daughter relationship in sport. Therefore, the purpose of this project was to obtain in-depth description of U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I (DI) daughter-athletes’ lived experiences of this relationship during their athletic careers. Using a snowball and purposive sampling technique (Noy, 2008), participants were identified. Interviews informed by an existential phenomenological approach were conducted with 8 NCAA DI female athletes (Thomas & Pollio, 2002) and participants were given the opportunity to share their experiences in their own words. The thematic structure constructed from the interviews related to the existential ground, other, daughter-athletes’ experience of Dad: (a) My relationship with my dad is because of sport; (b) Mom is the emotional bridge between myself and Dad; (c) Helping me get better is painful: Dad as my coach; and (d) Dad has always been there for me. Interviews revealed that daughter-athletes perceived sport as a way for fathers to get involved in and form relationships with their daughters, relationships that daughters longed to have. Moreover, results suggested that daughter-athletes believed that this sport relationship would be more powerful if it were paired with a strong emotional connection outside of athletics. Suggestions for fathers of daughter-athletes are also offered.

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