Living by numbers: media representations of sports stars’ careers

Emmanuelle Tulle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
439 Downloads (Pure)


This article will address the making and unmaking of elite sporting careers, by focusing on the media reporting of the rise and fall of two elite sport stars, Roger Federer and Lance Armstrong. Sport stars are not simply the raw, unmediated products of innate or mysterious physical ability. Their physical capital is constituted through techniques – physical and discursive – that reflect wider social and cultural values. In this paper I report on the role played by numbers (objective time, chronological age and physiological biomarkers) to construct but also regulate athletic careers. Numbers will be shown to have normative power that reinforces understandings of age and ageing within a narrative of decline. The athletes’ ability to challenge their subjection as old will also be explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-264
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Issue number3
Early online date10 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • ageing
  • sport
  • decline
  • discourse
  • numbers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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