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The perfect stroke: Moving beyond the performance narrative within rowing

This Thesis presents a narrative inquiry into the experiences rowers have within their sport, through exploring the stories they tell. Following Carless and Douglas (2012) my thesis identifies that success is a multi-dimensional concept. In doing so, I challenge the dominant performance narrative within sport that conceptualises success solely as winning. The performance narrative is often unsustainable and therefore can be damaging to an athlete’s well-being, due to such circumstances as injury, de-selection, drop out, aging, and losing. This can lead to narrative wreckage; where the individual no longer knows how to make sense of their life as the dominant story they told no longer aligns with their experiences. Highlighting, exploring and sharing stories that resist or move past the performance narrative can give individuals the ability to view themselves as a multi-faceted identity, allowing them to holistically enjoy sporting participation. Rowers interviewed in this thesis told stories of winning, but also of friendship, loyalty, and the freedom of movement. Of particular interest were the stories told that shared a sense of embodied convergence; the sensation of merging with the medium (Anderson, 2012). As yet, the convergence narrative is largely underdeveloped in the broader sporting literature; thus the paper drew heavily on the literature surrounding surfing in which the notion of convergence has been developed. By sharing and spreading of a range of different stories, individuals develop their narrative repertoire. This gives them the resources to be able to move past the performance narrative, and restory themselves if, and when, it no longer aligns with their experiences. My thesis looks to add to the existing literature resisting the performance narrative, by sharing evocative tales showing the complexities and intricacies of resisting or conforming to the performance narrative, and essentially, the joy that can be found within the sport of rowing.
Type of thesis
Green, T.-E. (2014). The perfect stroke: Moving beyond the performance narrative within rowing (Thesis, Master of Sport and Leisure Studies (MSpLS)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9297
University of Waikato
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