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The game of (your) life: professional sports careers

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posted on 2015-07-08, 10:59 authored by Christine CouplandChristine Coupland
The focus of the chapter is a discussion of the careers of sports professionals, i.e. those athletes who have for a period of time made a living from their sports-craft. This firmly locates interest in the notion of sport as work. Taking this focus enables us to apply and discuss career theories that have emanated from studies of the intersection of the individual and the institution of work and apply them to professional sports careers’ transitions from sport. There are strong arguments that support the notion that professional sport is more like work and less like play or leisure. A brief appraisal of traditional sports career transition research has identified key themes, patterns and foci which have been the concern of sports’ scholars. Furthermore, there are vocational career theories which have been more normally applied to the individual who is in intersection with the institution of work, which may be valuable in the sport context. Although there are important differences in the perspectives which guide the research it is argued that there is much that can be useful for sports scholars who are interested in understanding more fully how professional sports people come to terms with moving on from the active, playing, part of their lives.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business

Published in

The Research Handbook of Employment Relations in Sport


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COUPLAND, C., 2016. The game of (your) life: professional sports careers. IN: Barry, M., Skinner, J. and Engelberg, T. (eds.) The Research Handbook of Employment Relations in Sport. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 231-249.


Edward Elgar Publishing


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This is a draft chapter. The final version is available in The Research Handbook of Employment Relations in Sport edited by Michael Barry, James Skinner and Terry Engelberg published in 2016 by Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. The material cannot be used for any other purpose without further permission of the publisher, and is for private use only.




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