Transitioning to an athletic subjectivity: First semester experiences at a corporate (sporting) university

Bryan Clift, Ronald Mower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores how eight women experience, and are incorporated into, the regulatory regimes and pedagogical practices of a corporate (sporting) university in their first semester of college. Using Foucault's conceptions of power, discipline and subjectivity, we situate women's participation on the soccer team within the context of a corporatized Division-I University. As sport has become increasingly corporatized, low-profile sports have begun to emulate high-profile sports. The corporate university and corporate sport model indicative of high-profile college programs, such as the one involved in this study, use (sporting) bodies as resources, rendering them detached and alienated from many college experiences. As evidenced in the data from this study, the pedagogies of highly structured schedules and authoritative-, peer- and self-disciplining mechanisms functioned to normalize the experiences of stress, tension, isolation, loneliness and little autonomy. Nevertheless, we also discuss a point of rupture, wherein two women, for different reasons, refused their athletic subjectivities at The University after their first semester by discontinuing their athletic participation. The contextualization of such experiences reveals the complex relations of power emerging from young adults’ immersion into an athletic system imbued with corporatist ideologies housed within a simulated aura of education and development. This paper aims not to provide definitive answers but rather, by exploring power relations, to open for discussion critical questions about college athletics and to advocate for a more humanist research agenda that considers athletic subjectivities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-369
Number of pages21
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2013


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