Changing bodies, changing narratives and the consequences of tellability: A case study of becoming disabled through sport

  • Smith B
  • Sparkes A
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This article explores the life story of a young man who experienced a spinal cord injury (SCI) and became disabled though playing the sport of rugby union football. His experiences post SCI illuminate the ways in which movement from one form of embodiment to another connects him to a dominant cultural narrative regarding recovery from SCI that is both tellable and acceptable in terms of plot and structure to those around him. Over time, the obdurate facts of his impaired and disabled body lead him to reject this dominant narrative and move into a story line that is located on Norrick's (2005) upper-bounding side of tellability. This makes it transgressive, frightening, difficult to hear, and invokes the twin processes of deprivation of opportunity and infiltrated consciousness as described by Nelson (2001). These, and the effects of impairment, are seen to have direct consequences for the tellability of embodied experiences along with identity construction and narrative repair over time. Finally, some reflections are offered on how the conditions that negate the telling of his story might be challenged.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Body
  • Chaos
  • Disability
  • Narrative
  • Tellability

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  • Brett Smith

  • Andrew C. Sparkes

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