In this paper I discuss the relevance (and power) of teaching coaches how to question the ‘truth’ of their everyday coaching practices by beginning to ‘think with Foucault.’ My insights derive from my experiences teaching a graduate course called, “Coaching ‘Knowledges’: The Social Dimensions of Performance Sport”, that I designed in 2018 as part of the University of Alberta’s Masters of Coaching degree. More specifically, through my reflections on my past coaching, my present teaching, and the process of writing this paper, I consider how the act of problematizing, as informed by such Foucauldian concepts as docility, discipline, and power-knowledge, can serve to transform coach development and with that, of course, coaching and all that that entails.
Jim Denison and Pirkko Markula
Pre-event sports press conferences remain largely unexamined by sport sociologists. In this article we present a thick description (Geertz, 1973) of a recent press conference staged on behalf of the Ethiopian long-distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie. We first discuss the workings of whiteness in relation to the ways in which a black Ethiopian distance runner is imagined by Western sports journalists. Then, drawing on the work of a number of performance theorists, we conceptualize Gebrselassie’s press conference as a performance. Finally, we interpret the meaning of Gebrselassie’s press conference using the semiotics of Roland Barthes (1977).
Jim Denison and Robert Rinehart
Holly Thorpe, Tatiana Ryba and Jim Denison
Pirkko Markula, Bevan C. Grant and Jim Denison
There has been a notable increase in research on aging and physical activity in recent years. Most of this research derives from the natural sciences, using quantitative methods to examine the consequences of the physically aging body. Although these investigations have contributed significantly to our knowledge, to further understand the complex meanings attached to physical activity we also need social-science research. The article explores how a variety of social scientists (positivisls, postpositivists, interpretive social scientists, critical social scientists, poststructuralists, and postmodernists) who use quantitative and qualitative methods approach physical activity and aging. Through examples from research on aging and physical activity, the authors highlight the differences, possibilities, and limitations of each research approach. Their intention is not to declare one research approach superior to any other but to increase awareness and acceptance of different paradigms and to encourage dialogue between those who study aging and physical activity from a variety of perspectives.
Zoe Avner, Pirkko Markula and Jim Denison
Drawing on a modified version of Foucault’s (1972) analysis of discursive formations, we selected key coach education texts in Canada to examine what discourses currently shape effective coaching in Canada in order to detect what choices Canadian coaches have to know about “being an effective coach.” We then compared the most salient aspects of our reading to the International Sport Coaching Framework. Our Foucauldian reading of the two Canadian coach education websites showed that the present set of choices for coaches to practice “effectively” is narrow and that correspondingly the potential for change and innovation is limited in scope. Our comparison with the International Sport Coaching Framework, however, showed more promise as we found that its focus on the development of coach competences allowed for different coaching knowledges and coaching aims than a narrow focus on performance and results. We then conclude this Insights Paper by offering some comments on the implications of our Foucauldian reading as well as some suggestions to address our concerns about the dominance of certain knowledges and the various effects of this dominance for athletes, coaches, coach development and the coaching profession at large.
Jim Denison, Richard Pringle, Tania Cassidy and Paul Hessian
Progress and improvement in sport is often the result of some type of change. However, change for change sake is not always beneficial. Therefore, to be an effective ‘change agent’ a coach must be able to problematize his or her actions and assess why or why not a change might be needed. Accordingly, helping coaches become active problematizers is vital to the change process. Toward this end, we present in this paper our reflections as coach developers and coaches who considered how to apply Michel Foucault’s understanding of ethics to make self-change a positive force for enhancing athletes’ experiences. We then conclude by suggesting how coach developers might begin to incorporate Foucault’s work into the development of coaches capable of producing change that matters.