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The quest for a successful career change among elite athletes in France: a case study of a French rugby player

Abstract : The present paper considers the issues surrounding the social, professional and family (re‐) integration of end‐of‐career professional athletes in France. Drawing on the case of French rugby player Marc Cécillon, a former captain of the national team whose descent into alcoholism culminated in his conviction for murder of his wife in August 2004, it examines how sports institutions fail to meet athletes' aspirations and needs for support. Drawing on a series of interviews with representatives of sports institutions and analysis of print media coverage, the research investigates the issues surrounding career‐change difficulties for professional athletes. It demonstrates through the story of Marc Cécillon why the career of professional sportsmen and women cannot be divorced from their social trajectory. Rather than acknowledging this, however, the sports institutions concerned are seen to attribute blame for any ills affecting French rugby to exterior causes, such as individual weakness. By rejecting responsibility in this way the sporting ‘family’ falls apart, removing any support system and denying athletes the information and guidance necessary to manage their career change effectively. This is particularly significant for team players, who have been in a subservient position in relation to their clubs and can therefore suffer identity uncertainty from this lack of guidance. The case study suggests that French sports institutions do not play their role in preparing athletes for the realities of a new life based on different values and different social relations.
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 9:32:06 PM
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Sébastien Fleuriel, Joris Vincent. The quest for a successful career change among elite athletes in France: a case study of a French rugby player. Leisure Studies, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2009, 28 (2), pp.173-188. ⟨10.1080/02614360902774589⟩. ⟨halshs-01145342⟩



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