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

  • Author / Creator
    Jones, Luke K.
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Physical Education and Recreation
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Denison, Jim (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Washington, Marvin (School of Business)
    • Markula, Pirkko (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
    • Jones, Robyn (School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University)
    • Hickson, Clive (Faculty of Education)