The Normalization of Emotion and the Disregard of Health Problems in Elite Amateur Sport

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Jane Lee Sinden Redeemer University College

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The present study examines Foucault’s (1977) concept of normalization as it applies to the emotions of female elite amateur rowers. Specifically, this study sought to understand how beliefs about emotion, developed through the normalization process, may coerce athletes to continue to train even when physically unhealthy. Interviews were conducted with 11 retired elite amateur female rowers who suffered health problems while training but continued training despite these health problems. Interpretation of the data suggests that the rowers suppressed emotions to avoid appearing mentally weak, negative, or irrational, despite needing to express their concerns about training volumes and health issues to minimize deleterious effects that continued training eventually had on their health.

Dr. Jane Lee Sinden is an assistant professor with the Department of Physical Education and Kinesiol-ogy at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada.

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