A Leisure Pursuit that 'Goes Against the Grain': Older People and Competitive Sport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although today's older generation are encouraged to be physically active, society does not recognize 'serious competition' in physically demanding sport as an 'age-appropriate' leisure activity for them. It is generally assumed that older people partake in sport to have fun, make friends and keep fit. Older people competing in sport to win, achieve a personal best, break world records or push their bodies to their limits resist the 'friendship, fun and fitness' philosophy that is used to legitimize their participation. This paper discusses research involving in-depth interviews with 28 older Australian Masters Games athletes aged 60-89 years. The participants' stories were analysed using coding, constant comparative and thematic analyses. The voices of these older athletes are presented within a poststructural framework, which shows that, despite age-appropriate norms, competition is significant to many of them. This finding exposes alternative ways of understanding leisure behaviour in later life and raises questions about orthodoxies of sport and ageing in Western society. The research also points to potential applications of these findings to the provision of leisure services for older people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalAnnals of leisure research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


Dive into the research topics of 'A Leisure Pursuit that 'Goes Against the Grain': Older People and Competitive Sport'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this