“Getting Back on the Bike”: Risk, Injury, and Sport-Related Concussion in Competitive Road Cycling

Hardwicke, Jack, Hurst, Howard Thomas orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7889-8592 and Matthews, Christopher R. (2024) “Getting Back on the Bike”: Risk, Injury, and Sport-Related Concussion in Competitive Road Cycling. Sociology of Sport Journal . ISSN 0741-1235

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1123/ssj.2023-0153


A clear and consistent finding across three decades of sociological work focused on performance sports is that various sports can be considered social spaces in which risk, pain, and injury are accepted, normalized, and valorized. In recent years, the emergent scientific and popular concern around the short- and long-term consequences of sport-related concussion has seen a resurgence in the use of classic sociological ideas to help understand why athletes appear to downplay, continue competing, and sometimes ignore potential brain injuries. Using data from interviews, this paper explores these social processes in the sport of road cycling in Britain. We present the argument that the enduring utility of classic sociological concepts in explaining athlete behaviors toward risk, pain, and injury may be indicative of the obdurate nature of the cultural norms which circulate in performance sport settings. With regard to the ongoing problems with concussion in sport, we show the continued need to understand the social context in which much sport is imagined and practiced. This leads to our suggestion that sociocultural and interactional processes in many sporting subcultures that support the normative acceptance of behaviors which often prioritize performance over health need to be more readily challenged if we wish to achieve comprehensive change toward improved athlete welfare.

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