More Than Just a ‘Pro’: A Relational Analysis of Transition in Professional Football

Darryn Stamp, Paul A. Potrac, LEE NELSON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


This paper addresses the social and relational dimensions of player transitions in professional football. Data were generated through a total of 24 cyclical, in-depth interviews with three former players. The interview transcripts were subjected to emic and etic readings, with Bauman's metaphors of liquid modernity, hunters and pointillist time, May's theorisation of belonging and Crossley's relational theorising providing the primary heuristic framework. Our analysis led to the construction of two interconnected themes. These were (a) the paradox of feeling wanted by others during workplace transitions and, simultaneously, seeing these others as threats to their career longevity and (b) the interplay between the participants' multiple identities, relations with others outside of the workplace, and their career choices. Importantly, our findings highlighted that player transitions were not tied to the personality traits or characteristics of the individual but rather to broader social and cultural factors. Indeed, the participants' experienced and interpreted their transitions through the reading of their respective social landscapes and their changing understandings of the multiple social networks that comprised them. Based on these findings, we believe there is much to gain from the exploration of multiple identities in sports work and how these play out and are experienced over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-86
Number of pages15
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number1
Early online date24 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Transition
  • Multiple identities
  • belonging
  • professional football
  • sports work
  • multiple identities


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