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The End of the Road?: Discipline and Retirement in British Professional and Semi-Professional Football Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Jones, Luke K.
Supervisor and department
Denison, Jim (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Markula, Pirkko (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
Hickson, Clive (Faculty of Education)
Jones, Robyn (School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University)
Washington, Marvin (School of Business)
Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Overman (2009) has noted that there is no single representative experience of retirement in sport; however, it is clear that retirement from sport is challenging (Sparkes, 1998). Despite over sixty years of sports retirement research, problems continue to be reported amongst retiring athletes (Wylleman, Alfermann, & Lavallee, 2004) and specifically British footballers (Drawer & Fuller, 2002). Roderick (2006) suggested that knowledge of football retirement is limited. This study uses a post-structural understanding of power to discover how young men negotiate the challenges of enforced retirement. Data was gathered during in-depth interviews with 25 former players between the ages of 21-34. Markula and Pringle (2006) illustrated that adopting Foucault (1991) allows the researcher to consider an athlete as being produced via his sporting experiences that are structured within relations of power. Adopting Foucault’s analysis of discipline, I examined the practices and relationships experienced within football and considered how, through various techniques of discipline, a docile footballing body is produced. The extent to which this docility influences a player’s retirement experience is also explored. I identified the arts of distributions, control of activity, the organisation of geneses and the composition of forces that influence football player development. Furthermore, how through hierarchical observation, normalisation, examination, and the panoptic arrangement of working football, docile football players are produced. Retired players reported confusion and relief as a result of their initial removal from the highly disciplined environment of football. Furthermore, as a result of their exposure to discipline and the ability to ‘normalise’ using confessional practices, over time, retirees became docile bodies in new alternate realms. Finally, I problematised how retired players are told to negotiate their athletic identities once evicted from the localised disciplinary football environment. This study suggests that the current ‘truth’ of how to develop and produce players in football must be re-conceptualised. This ‘truth’ is restricting and ultimately detrimental to the transitional capacity of working football players. In order to influence player experiences during and after their careers, ‘marginalised knowledges’ (Foucault, 1987) surrounding what it means to be a footballer must be evoked.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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