“Just a Normal Bad Part of What I Do”: Elite Athletes’ Accounts of the Relationship between Health and Sport

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Nancy ThebergeUniversity of Waterloo

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This article examines elite athletes’ understandings of the relationship between sport participation and health. Data are taken from interviews with 20 male and female athletes. Athletes’ assessments of the impact of sport on health and wellbeing include attributions of negative, positive, and, most often, mixed outcomes. In these elite athletes’ conceptualizations of health, injury and illness are subordinated to a view of health as capacity, and the primary frame of reference in which they consider capacity is their immediate competitive careers. Respondents’ accounts of efforts to manage the threats to their health that are posed by their sporting activity frequently convey a disembodied notion of the athletic body as an object to be managed.

Nancy Theberge is with the Kinesiology and Sociology Departments, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario.

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