Publication Date

Spring 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Theodore M. Butryn


emotional processing theory, in vivo exposure, terrorism, trauma

Subject Areas

Psychology; Kinesiology


While trauma experiences have been explored in several sport-related research studies, there is a lack of research on athletes’ experiences of a terror attack in sport. The present study qualitatively explored the meanings that 2013 Boston Marathoners ascribed to their experience of returning to the Boston Marathon to compete. Eight participants took part in semi-structured interviews. Interviews were analyzed via interpretative phenomenological analysis. Eight themes emerged and were organized temporally around pre-2013 Boston Marathon experience, 2013 Boston Marathon experience, and post-2013 Boston Marathon experience. Results suggest participants initially had difficulty processing their 2013 experience, but ultimately, several participants had a changed perspective on the sport. Furthermore, results suggest that a return to the Boston Marathon provided an outlet for some participants to demonstrate their defiance to the attackers, display resilience, and achieve a goal that they could not in 2013. The results are discussed within the context of Emotional Processing Theory.