‘I just want to be left alone’: Professional athletes, dramaturgical demands and perpetual performance-readiness

Sociology of Sport Journal 37 (2):108-116 (2020)
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By Martin Roderick & Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson To date, no sociological studies of professional athletes have investigated the lived experiences of sportspeople in highly publicly-visible occupations that provide relatively few opportunities for back-stage relaxation from role demands. Drawing on findings from a British Academy-funded project examining high-profile sports workers, and employing Goffman’s dramaturgical insights, this article provides a novel examination of high-profile athletes who work in highly publicly visible contexts. This working context can render them ‘open’ persons in interactional situations. To explore this sociologically significant occupational domain, interviews were conducted with 26 UK-based professional athletes (female and male) from seven different sports. For these athletes, dramaturgical demands were found to be relentless and unremitting, as back-stage regions proved so challenging to access.

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