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A Foucauldian Analysis of Parents and Players Experiences at Elite Youth Football Academies

Brooks, Joseph T.


Joseph T. Brooks


One consequence of living in a ‘surveillance society’ is that it has legitimised viewing and treating the body as a machine within the high-performance sports environment (Mills & Denison, 2013). A dominant discourse that encourages normalised observation and surveillance is now rife in elite sporting academies, including those of Association football clubs in the UK (Cushion & Jones, 2006; Jones, 2019). One under explored area of sports research is how the parents of elite youth athletes feel about their children being exposed to the aforementioned constant surveillance and observation. This study has provided a critical insight and discussion into how parents perceive current coaching practices (and their effects) in elite academy settings. Specifically, this study utilised a post-structuralist framework, inspired by the writings of Michel Foucault (1977), to understand the players and parents’ experiences of an elite Association football academy setting. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with four parent-academy player dyads. These interviews were then transcribed and analysed from a Foucauldian lens. Overall, two key themes were identified. The first theme revealed that a key symptom of the distribution of ‘disciplinary power’ in academies that leads to players becoming docile bodies (Jones, 2019) is that, consequently, parents also become ‘docile’– and in so doing, also uncritically accept the machinations of the academy. Theme two highlights how although parents have become docile, they are still heavily invested in their child’s sporting experiences and therefore do sometimes desire to intervene in areas within their current plane of understanding. In conclusion, this study suggests enhanced dialogue between academies and parents so that alternative practices, less reliant upon a disciplinary logic (Denison, Mills & Konoval, 2017) might mutually arise.


Brooks, J. T. A Foucauldian Analysis of Parents and Players Experiences at Elite Youth Football Academies. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 21, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 21, 2023
Keywords Sports science
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, The University of Hull


Thesis (954 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2022 Joseph T. Brooks. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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