Sports Reforms and Coaches’ Spoiled Identities: An Analysis of Structural Stigma

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Yoon Jin Kim School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom

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https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5264-7162 *
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Marcelle C. Dawson Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

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This article explores how sports coaches’ identity and social relations are shaped within the context of new policy initiatives in sport. It focuses particularly on South Korea’s ongoing sports reforms wherein sports coaches feel stigmatized and disgraced. Informed by classic and contemporary sociological understandings of stigma and relying both on documents and narratives from 29 individuals, our qualitative analysis reveals that Korean coaches’ stigma is discrediting, prior-known, and power-laden. By viewing stigmatization as a social process constructed both “symbolically” and “structurally,” this article extends Goffman’s analysis to argue that coaches’ stigmatization is rooted in the social, institutional, and political power around sports reforms that forge stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs across society by offering ready-made scripts for both the stigmatized and the “normals.”

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