Despite a growing body of research on the sociology of time and, analogously, on the sociology of sport, to date there has been relatively little sports literature that takes time as the focus of the analysis. Given the centrality of time as a feature of most sports, this would seem a curious lacuna. The primary aims of this article are to contribute new perspectives on the subjective experience of sporting injury and to analyze some of the temporal dimensions of sporting “injury time” and subsequent rehabilitation. The article is based on data derived from a 2-year autoethnographic research project on 2 middle/long-distance runners, and concludes with some indicative comments regarding the need for sports physiotherapists and other health-care practitioners to take into account the subjective temporal dimension of injury and rehabilitative processes.
Jacquelyn Allen Collinson
Martin Roderick and Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson
To date, no sociological studies of professional athletes have investigated the lived experiences of sportspeople in highly publicly visible occupations that provide relatively few opportunities for backstage relaxation from role demands. Drawing on findings from a British Academy-funded project examining high-profile sports workers and employing Goffman’s dramaturgical insights, this article provides a novel examination of high-profile athletes who work in highly publicly visible contexts. This working context can render them “open” persons in interactional situations. To explore this sociologically significant occupational domain, interviews were conducted with 26 U.K.-based professional athletes (females and males) from seven different sports. For these athletes, dramaturgical demands were found to be relentless and unremitting, as backstage regions proved so challenging to access.
Lee Crust, Christian Swann, and Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson
Mental toughness (MT) is a key psychological variable related to achievement in performance domains and perseverance in challenging circumstances. We sought to understand the lived experiences of mentally tough high-altitude mountaineers, focusing primarily upon decisions to persevere or abort summit attempts. Phenomenological interviews were conducted with 14 mountaineers including guides, expedition leaders, and doctors (M age = 44 years). A content analysis was employed to identify key themes in the data. Participants emphasized the importance of MT in extreme environments and described rational, flexible, and vigilant decision-making. Turning around without summiting was the toughest decision reported, with recognition of the thin line between persevering and overstretching. In contrast to much MT literature, mountaineers accepted limits, demonstrated restraint, and sacrificed personal goals to aid others. Costly perseverance was also reported with some mountaineers described as “too tough”: overcompetitive, goal-obsessed, and biased decision-makers. These findings revealed both benefits and dangers of MT in mountaineering.
Noora J. Ronkainen, Tatiana V. Ryba, and Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson
Sport provides many youth participants with a central life project, and yet very few eventually fulfill their athletic dreams, which may lead them to disengage from sport entirely. Many studies have explored the processes of athletic retirement, but little is known about how youth athletes actually reconstruct their relationship with sport and embodiment postretirement. The authors explored these issues in the story of “Pilvi,” a Finnish alpine skier who disengaged from sport in her late adolescence. Employing an existential-phenomenological approach, they conducted six low-structured interviews with Pilvi, combined with visual methods, and identified key themes relating to the body, space, culture, and time. Their findings highlight the difficulty of building a new relationship with sport and the often restrictive cultural horizons of sport and exercise culture that limit the “possible selves.” The authors discuss the significant implications for applied practitioners helping youth athletes and effectively supporting them in leaving their sport.
Shaunna M. Burke, Andrew C. Sparkes, and Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson
This ethnographic study examined how a group of high altitude climbers (N = 6) drew on ethnomethodological principles (the documentary method of interpretation, reflexivity, indexicality, and membership) to interpret their experiences of cognitive dissonance during an attempt to scale Mt. Everest. Data were collected via participant observation, interviews, and a field diary. Each data source was subjected to a content mode of analysis. Results revealed how cognitive dissonance reduction is accomplished from within the interaction between a pattern of self-justification and self-inconsistencies; how the reflexive nature of cognitive dissonance is experienced; how specific features of the setting are inextricably linked to the cognitive dissonance experience; and how climbers draw upon a shared stock of knowledge in their experiences with cognitive dissonance.
Gareth McNarry, Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson, and Adam B. Evans
Pain has long been associated with sports participation, being analyzed variously as a physical phenomenon, as well as a sociocultural construct in sport sociological literature. In this article, the authors employ a sociological–phenomenological approach to generate novel insights into the underresearched domain of “lived” pain in competitive swimming. Analytic attention is paid to specific aspects of pain, including “discomfort” and “good pain,” and how these sensations can be positively experienced and understood by the swimmers, as well as forming an integral part of the everyday routines of competitive swimming. Here, training is seen as “work” in the pursuit of athletic improvement. Discomfort and good pain thus become perceived as by-products of training, providing swimmers with important embodied information on pace, energy levels, and other bodily indicators of performance.