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  • Author: Paul Potrac x
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The Sociology of Sports Work, Emotions and Mental Health: Scoping the Field and Future Directions

Martin Roderick, Andy Smith, and Paul Potrac

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Micropolitical Workings in Semi-Professional Football

Paul Potrac and Robyn. L Jones

This paper seeks to illuminate the micropolitical strategies that Gavin (a pseudonym) used in an attempt to persuade the players, the assistant coach, and the chairman at Erewhon City Football (soccer) Club to “buy into” his coaching program and methods. Data for the study were collected through in-depth, semistructured interviews, and a reflective log relating to those interviews. The interviews were transcribed verbatim with the subsequent transcripts being subject to a process of inductive analysis. Ball’s (1987) micropolitical perspective, Kelchtermans’ and Ballet’s (2002a, 2002b) work on micropolitical literacy, and Goffman’s (1959) writings on the presentation of the self, are used to make theoretical sense of the specific strategies used by Gavin in an attempt to persuade the players to see the merits of his coaching.

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Fear, Anger, and Loneliness: Emotional Pain and Referee Attrition in English Grassroots Football

Paul A. Potrac, Edward T. Hall, and Adam J. Nichol

This interpretive study provides original insights into the socioemotional experiences that contributed to referee attrition in English grassroots football. Data were generated using an online survey (n = 251) and in-depth interviews (n = 20) with former referees. Using complementary symbolic interactionist and relational conceptualizations of identity, social interaction, and emotional pain, the analysis addressed the participants’ interpretations of their problematic encounters with the various significant others (e.g., coaches, managers, players, spectators, and administrators) that comprised their respective social networks in grassroots football. Importantly, the participants described several emotionally painful issues related to match day environments, disciplinary proceedings, and deployment and development processes that simultaneously coexisted alongside and exacerbated one another. The findings present important implications for those individuals and governing bodies who are responsible for referee retention.

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Athletes as “Sites of Normative Intersectionality”: Critically Exploring the Ontology of Influence in Sport Coaching

Adam J. Nichol, Philip R. Hayes, Will Vickery, Emma Boocock, Paul Potrac, and Edward T. Hall

Social structure remains an equivocal term in (sport) sociology. Our understandings of its constitution and role in causally influencing behavior are arguably underdeveloped. Using a critical realist approach, this paper examined how structural entities and reflexive agency combined to influence behavior in an elite youth cricket context (e.g., athletes, coaches). A methodological bricolage was used to generate data and Elder-Vass’s theorizing provided the principal heuristic device. The analysis illustrated how coaches acted on behalf of norm circles in their attempts to shape dispositions of athletes. In turn, athletes engaged in a process of dialectical iteration between reflexive deliberation and (intersectional) dispositions, which influenced their social action in this organizational context. This study holds significance for researchers and practitioners concerned with social influence.

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Thinking, Feeling, Acting: The Case of a Semi-Professional Soccer Coach

Lee Nelson, Paul Potrac, David Gilbourne, Ashley Allanson, Laura Gale, and Phil Marshall

This paper aimed to shed light on the emotional nature of practice in coaching. In particular, this article was designed to explore the relationship between emotion, cognition, and behavior in the coaching context, through a narrative exploration of Zach’s (a pseudonym) experiences as the head coach of a semiprofessional soccer team. Data for this study were collected through a series of in-depth semistructured interviews that were transcribed verbatim and subject to inductive analysis. Two embracing categories were identified in the interview data. The first demonstrated how Zach frequently concealed his true emotions and enacted others in an attempt to achieve his desired ends. The second highlighted how Zach’s past experiences as a player had influenced how he wished to portray himself to his squad, and, importantly, helped him to sympathize with the thoughts and feelings of his players. Here, Lazarus and Folkman’s (1986) cognitive appraisal theory, Denzin’s (1984) writings on understanding emotions, and Hochschild’s (1983) work on emotional labor were used to offer one suggested, but not conclusive, reading of the emotional aspects of Zach’s practice.