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Suffering in Sport

The Suffering Body in Sport

ISBN: 978-1-78756-069-7, eISBN: 978-1-78756-068-0

Publication date: 24 July 2019



To explore what suffering is, how suffering is embedded within the sociology of sport literature, and what suffering can do to athletes in sport. In addition, to discuss the value of an interdisciplinary approach and co-presence when researching athletes in suffering.


In the first part of the chapter, the concepts of pain, violence, and suffering are separated, and a justification for the study of suffering in sport is given. The second part of the chapter details sport and social problems, and the suffering body in sport is discussed, pulling from interdisciplinary theories and methodologies of suffering external to the sociology of sport.


Social inequalities and hidden forms of suffering may be reproduced in sport. Sport is questioned as a force of social mobility for vulnerable people. The context of sport can offer ‘healing’ properties for people in suffering. The impact of using an interdisciplinary approach and considering co-presence and relational suffering when researching suffering is discussed.


The difficulties understanding the complex, multi-dimensional nature of suffering are shared. New ways of engaging within the research act and specific theoretical approaches are suggested for improving the understanding of suffering within sport.



Smith, K. (2019), "Suffering in Sport", The Suffering Body in Sport (Research in the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 12), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 121-140.



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