"When You're Born You Can't Even Talk, So Everybody Starts Somewhere": the Lived Experiences of Sports Leadership Training

Scott, David Steven (2017). "When You're Born You Can't Even Talk, So Everybody Starts Somewhere": the Lived Experiences of Sports Leadership Training. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000c16a


The ‘power of sport’ and its efficacy in personal and social development programmes has often been taken for granted. Despite the growing number of studies which have critically questioned how sport is used in developmental contexts, there has been seemingly little focus placed upon participants’ accounts of their sport-for-development experiences. My research explores individuals’ lived experiences of sports leadership courses, and their descriptions of the social interactions and feelings they encountered, in order to address the lack of experiential data in the current sport-for-development literature. An ethnographic methodology meant that I was immersed within the field. I was positioned as a moderate participant, which enabled me to reflect on my own sports leadership experiences. Data were collected through four sports leadership course observations and cyclical interviews over 4-10 months with eleven course attendees, plus individual interviews with five tutors. I adopted a phenomenologically-inspired perspective, utilising Merleau-Ponty’s (1986) concept of the lived body to emphasise the corporeal investments involved in such physically-oriented courses. Goffman’s (1959) presentation of the self and Hochschild’s (1979) emotion management were also applied to an exploration of individuals’ investment of self during their participation. My reflections from the field highlighted the wide variety of course locations, deliveries, participants, motivations, and tutors involved in sports leadership courses. The social and embodied aspects of the courses emerge as key influences upon individuals’ experiences, with the opportunity to learn intercorporeally becoming apparent as vital to individuals’ motivations and engagements. The crucial points of connection and disconnection individuals experienced can be thus understood through their descriptions of confidence, which encapsulates their mind-body-world relationships with the course. Therefore, this study is important in understanding the role of sport in sport-for-development courses, as it discusses how the physical elements of such courses provide a chance for individuals to invest their embodied selves into a personal development opportunity.

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