“And I dedicate this win to…”: Performing grief in high performance sport

Douglas, Kitrina (2021) “And I dedicate this win to…”: Performing grief in high performance sport. Autoethnography, 2 (3). pp. 334-344. ISSN 2637-5192

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Arthur Bochner wrote that even though he’d written about grief, he never really understood it until the death of his father. I suspect many of us recognise a truth in what he said. Often unannounced, death creeps like an unwelcome stain into our lives. I wonder how many of us are ready for it and what narrative scripts are available to us at these times as we try to make sense and bring meaning to our loss?
In sport, the path that I trod for my first occupation, the pervasiveness of the performance narrative means that following the death of a parent an athlete is expected to continue with their sport, regardless of their pain and grief. “The show” or that competition you trained so hard for, so the story goes, “must go on”. Within high performance sport the grief and loss experienced by well-known athletes seems to also provide an additional newsworthy opportunity for reporters and journalists to spice up their copy with stories of how, “I did it for dad”.
But is winning the only way to represent or honour this relationship? And what of those athletes who never win? How do they honour their dead?
Over the past twenty years I have often drawn on my own experiences in professional sport to challenge the dominant performance narrative which frames winning as the only accepted and valued goal of the athlete. In this performance autoethnography I hope to extending previous work by turning the spotlight on some of the ways the performance narrative frames how athletes and media alike represent grief and loss and what the father/child relationships means.
My aim and purpose with this work is to contribute to the creation of counterstories and alternative narrative maps. Through creating such resources it may provide some athletes whose live and experiences are currently disenfranchised or silenced, and I include myself in this group, to negotiate this difficult terrain in ways that are more authentic. In Mark Freeman’s terms, I seek to ‘break away’ from this powerful monologue and sap its “coercive power” (p. 12).

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.1525/joae.2021.2.3.334
Additional Information: Published as [Kitrina Douglas; “And I dedicate this win to…”: Performing Grief in High-Performance Sport. Journal of Autoethnography 1 July 2021; 2 (3): 334–344. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/joae.2021.2.3.334]. © 2021 by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center.
Subjects: Social sciences > Communication and culture
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Kitrina Douglas
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2020 12:15
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 16:04
URI: https://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/7347


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