A Case Study of Korean Undergraduate Student-Athletes' Academic Lives

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 1 (Convention Center)
Yongsuk Yim1, Taeho Yu1 and Deockki Hong2, (1)Korea University, Seoul, South Korea, (2)University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA

Recently, researchers have examined that there have been human rights violation issues in Korean student-athletes’ lives in terms of academic lives. Even though Korean government has established educational policies to protect student-athletes’ rights to participate in university courses, researchers argue that human rights violations of student-athletes are still frequently reported. The purpose of this research was to examine undergraduate student-athletes’ academic lives and context to provide narratives that student-athletes encounter. 


Using ideal case selection method, a university located in Seoul, South Korea was chosen for this study. The university curriculum document was obtained. Observation data were collected through two semesters. Interviews were conducted from four critical student-athletes. 


Data were analyzed using constant comparison. Triangulation was used using interviews, observations, and field notes. Total seven categories emerged from open coding procedure: 1) “My sports practice schedule is interfere with university course”, 2) “I’m excused because I’m a student-athlete”, 3) “I don’t expect to prepare course”, 4) “I have no idea on university courses”, 5) “I’m afraid that I don’t know much about course content” , 6) “I m sorry, Professor”, and 7) “I just need a diploma.” In addition to the open coding procedure, axial coding analyses generated three themes: 1) learned helplessness, 2) isolated culture, and 3) free from the university curriculum.


The results implies that Korean student-athletes' academic lives are interfered with their trainings. It causes a serious learned helplessness and isolated culture that may result in failure of non-athletic career.  Student-athletes are student prior to athletes. Student-athletes should have a priority to study prior to practice sports. There is a need to establish povernmental policy to protect student-athletes' academic lives.