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When the Athletic Body Fades: Sporting Exit and Identity Transitions

The Suffering Body in Sport

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

Publication date: 24 July 2019



To examine the relationship that athletes establish with their bodies within sport and through their transitions out of sport, with a special focus on risk, injury and pain.


This chapter is an explanatory review of the literature focusing on the embodied and sensory experiences of athletes as they depart sport.


This chapter explores definitions and conceptualizations of the retirement process, highlights how the body is experienced during the sporting exit (as fragile and out of control) and makes connections between how bodily breakdown during sporting exits impacts an athlete’s sense of self and identity.


Through practical recommendations, this chapter highlights some of the ways in which psycho-education and an expanded focus on the body could be useful to athletes as they attempt to reconcile their new lives and bodies post-sport.



Gairdner, S. (2019), "When the Athletic Body Fades: Sporting Exit and Identity Transitions", The Suffering Body in Sport (Research in the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 12), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 179-193.



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