The Expendable Prolympic Self: Going beyond the Boundaries of the Sociology and Psychology of Sport

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Miami University
  • | 2 University of Illinois
  • | 3 University of Virginia
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This article offers a proposal for combining the sport sociological and sport psychological imaginations. In order to effect this rapprochement, some serious adjustments to the ways in which many applied sport psychologists and sport sociologists think about and conduct research are required. Thus, the initial part of this article expresses some critiques, albeit brief, of current tendencies within both sport sociology and sport psychology. We deemed these critiques necessary to advance a neo-Millsian position on the articulation of social structure and personality. This neo-Millsian position draws on the ego-psychoanalytical tradition to offer suggestions for how we might reconceive the problems of indispensability/expendability in the Prolympic structures of sport and for how we might, using a life-histories (biographical) methodology, engage in useful or practical research, especially on the problematics of how individuals handle/mishandle early, pre-career, and mid-career failure, and, in the long-run, inevitable failure at the end of their careers. Where, then, is the common ground between sport sociology and sport psychology? We argue that it is the analysis of ego-practices and ego-defenses as learned, consciously or unconsciously, over our biographical lives as they intersect with, and are contoured by, social history and social structure.

A. Ingham is a professor with the Department of Physical Education, Health & Sport Studies at Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056. B. Blissmer is a doctoral student in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801. K. Wells Davidson is a doctoral student in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22901.

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