This case study examines the relationship between the “culture of risk” and the negotiation of treatment between sport medicine clinicians and student-athletes at a large Canadian university. The evidence acknowledges that a “culture of risk” was reinforced under certain circumstances during negotiation, but was also tempered by the existence of a “culture of precaution” that worked to resist those influences. The dialectic between the cultures of risk and precaution reveals some of the tensions inherent in negotiations between clinicians and patient-athletes, and helps to complicate the notion of a “culture of risk.” Another aspect (one that has rarely if ever been examined) of the negotiation of treatment is also considered—the promotion of “sensible risks” by clinicians to injured athletes.
The author is with the Department of Exercise Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON. This article is the recipient of the 2002 Barbara Brown Student Paper Award of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport.