Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
SLIM BODIES, EATING DISORDERS AND THE COACH– ATHLETE RELATIONSHIP A Tale of Identity Creation and Disruption R.L. Jones University of Wales Institute Cardiff, UK N. Glintmeyer Independent A. McKenzie Wellington Rugby Football Union, New Zealand Abstract This study explores the experiences of a former elite swimmer, Anne (a pseudonym), whose career was interrupted and finally terminated by disordered eating. The work is grounded in the need to tell Anne’s story in relation to compliance within a culture of slenderness and norms, and the role of the coach within that culture. Using interpretive biography, the data illustrate how the creation of strong athletic identity led to a vulnerable sense of self, which, when disrupted, critically contributed to the development of an eating disorder. They also indicate how the prevailing discourse fed the disorder through ongoing surveillance and disciplining of the self. Finally, suggestions are made about drawing lessons from Anne’s story with regard to re-interpreting the traditional coach– athlete relationship. Key words • coaching • eating disorder • narrative • power Introduction The complexity inherent in the coach–athlete relationship continues to be under- researched and under- appreciated by scholars, coach educators and practitioners (Saury and Durand, 1998; Cushion et al., 2003; Jones et al., 2003). In particular, socio-philosophical aspects of the role of coaches’ discourse in athlete develop- ment have received little attention, although that discourse continues to empha- size the rationalistic concepts of productivity, efficiency and conformity as keys for athletic success (Wright, 2000; Cassidy et al., 2004). Similarly, although the traditional power-dominated coach–athlete relationship has been the subject of some critical scrutiny (e.g. Birrell and Cole, 1994; Chapman, 1997), only in the recent work of Johns and Johns (2000) has the ‘discourse of expertise’ been considered (Cassidy et al., 2004). It is a discourse, housed within a ‘culture of Downloaded from at MCGILL UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES on January 24, 2011378 INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR THE SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT 40(3) conformity’, which involves consideration of the body as a biological object to be unproblematically trained, manipulated and measured (Prain and Hickey, 1995; Wright, 2000). The discourse also leads to an unquestioning, compliant and dependent athlete identity (Johns and Johns, 2000), where the coach is viewed as a knowledge giver and athletes as receivers who need that knowledge to better their performances. Although improved times and speed are often cited as ‘proof’ of its success, the discourse takes little consideration of the personal circumstance and context of athletes, thus making individual identities vulnerable if they fail to match up to the given ideal. Such an approach is unable to take account of, and therefore clashes with, the unique and ‘hybrid’ nature of athletes (Shogan, 1999) whose distinctive
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 09/12/2011 for the course SCIENCE bio 200 taught by Professor Roy during the Fall '11 term at McGill.

Page1 / 8


This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online