Performance Discourses and Old Age: What Does It Mean to Be an Older Athlete?

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Charles Sturt University
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Physical performance discourses are concerned with improving fitness and competing to win or achieve a personal best. Older people are commonly not recognized as acceptable or normal subjects of performance discourses because they are traditionally positioned as weak and less able. Yet the number of older people participating in physically demanding competitive sports is increasing. The purpose of this paper is to use a poststructural framework to explore how Masters athletes use performance discourses to define their participation. Interviews and observations were conducted with 138 participants (ages 55–94) of the 8th Australian Masters Games. The findings indicate that performance discourses work both as a medium for redefining what it means to be an older athlete and for re-inscribing normalized constructs of the acceptable older athlete.

The authors are with the School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW, Australia, 2795.

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