Troubling sport: sport and health in historical and contemporary perspective


  • Prof Matthew Smith

    University of Strathclyde

Project summary

Sport is generally thought to be good for you but it is less clear cut when the mental and physical health of elite athletes are considered. Athletes put themselves at considerable physical risk when training and in competition and one wrong step can result in career-ending injury, extensive surgeries and painful rehabilitation. Athletes’ bodies endure continuous stresses and strains, which can contribute to everything from chronic joint pain to debilitating neurological disease. In recent years, athletes have become more willing to talk about the toll sport takes on their mental health, from dealing with online abuse and the pressure to win at all costs to coping with long-term injury and worries about retirement.  

We will challenge the role of sport in society by using health as a lens through which to understand elite sport.