Exploring taboo issues in professional sport through a fictional approach

Kitrina Douglas*, David Carless

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the need to consider life course issues in elite sport research and practice is increasingly recognised, some experiences still seem to be considered too dangerous to explore. Consequently, stories of these experiences are silenced and the ethical and moral questions they pose fail to be acknowledged, understood or debated. This paper presents an ethnographic fiction through which we explore a sensitive set of experiences that were uncovered during our research with professional sportspeople. Through a multi‐layered reconstruction, the story reveals the complex, but significant, relationships that exist between identity, cultural narratives and embodied experiences. After the telling we consider how the story has stimulated reflective practice among students, researchers and practitioners. While there are risks involved in writing and sharing taboo stories, the feedback we have received suggests that storytelling can be an effective pedagogical tool in education and professional development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-323
Number of pages13
JournalReflective Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • professional sport
  • ethnographic fiction
  • abuse
  • sexuality
  • narrative
  • story


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