Beyond life-skills : talented athletes, existential learning and (Un)learning the life of an athlete
Ronkainen, N., Aggerholm, K., Allen-Collinson, J., & Ryba, T. V. (2023). Beyond life-skills : talented athletes, existential learning and (Un)learning the life of an athlete. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 15(1), 35-49. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676x.2022.2037694
Published inQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Following developments in educational discourse more broadly, learning discourses in youth sport have been shaped by outcome-based and instrumental goals of developing useful life-skills for ‘successful’ lives. There is, however, a need to expand such traditional understandings of sport-based youth development, which we undertook by exploring existential learning in sport through encountering discontinuity. We conducted in-depth qualitative research with 16 Finnish athletes (seven men/nine women, aged 19–20), five of whom had recently disengaged from the athlete development pathway. In the interviews, we used creative non-fiction vignettes to invite reflections on learning experiences in sport. Although participants reported having learnt many useful skills commonly associated with positive youth development discourses (e.g. goal setting, time-management), many also provided rich descriptions of other, important ‘life lessons’. These involved developing awareness of their bodily limitations, the nature of social relationships, and what it was like to live the life of an elite athlete. The findings revealed problematic features of (elite) sport cultures but also showed that encountering discontinuity could be beneficial as an important trigger for existential reflection, clarification of values, and a search for alternative ways of living. ...
ISSN Search the Publication Forum2159-676X
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Related funder(s)Ministry of Education and Culture; European Commission
The content of the publication reflects only the author’s view. The funder is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
Additional information about fundingThis study was supported by H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (grant number 792172) and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (grant number OKM/39/626/2017) .
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