In this article, I examine the relatively youthful sporting retirement of four athletes from popular Western team sports, namely soccer, ice hockey and rugby union. Drawing on studies of sporting transitions and retirement (e.g., Denison, 1997; Douglas & Carless, 2009; Sparkes, 1998; Sparkes & Smith, 2002; Stambulova, Alfermann, Statler, & Côté, 2009; Wylleman, Alfermann, & Lavallee, 2004) and Foucault’s notions of games of truth and ethical self-creation, I argue that these athletes’ decisions to retire from sport were based on a refusal to accept the subject position proposed to them within their sports and, subsequently, these sporting transitions formed acts of ethical self-creation. My conclusions reveal an as yet under-explored interpretation of sporting retirement in which the process of retirement forms part of an attempt to recreate an ethical self.
Dominant analyses of sporting subjectivities suggest the contemporary athletic subject embodies a win-at-all-costs instrumental rationality. Yet, as Carless and Douglas (2012) argue, athletes are able to find less problematic alternatives to this understanding of sport. In this article, I use Foucault’s concept of “practices of the self” to undertake a sociological analysis of ethical subjectivities within Ultimate Frisbee. I focus specifically on ascetic, or self-controlling, practices of the self through which players create relationships between their self, Ultimate’s moral code and others. I use this case study to argue that ethical subjectivities offer a productive perspective for sociology of sport.