This study responds to the recent calls (Gino & Kouchaki, 2020; Jongman-Sereno & Leary, 2020; Hicks, Schlegel & Newman, 2019) to pay more attention to the importance of the concept of authenticity by enhancing our knowledge of its subjective meanings and tensions ascribed in the personal and professional space of individuals. Although, prior studies have examined authenticity in the context of traditional work settings, and its importance for social and political thinking (Taylor, 2007), has been duly acknowledged; sports, as a context has been largely ignored. In the backdrop of recent sports scandals, doping cases and eroding of the emancipatory and liberative values of sports, an understanding of the subjective meanings and tensions of authenticity for athletes has become crucial. This is because findings of prior studies suggest that an authentic self is capable of addressing issues pertaining to mental health, social adjustments and concerns related to the overall wellbeing of individuals. The distinction in beliefs, thoughts, ideas and perceptions shaped by the cultural, social and political environment, different individuals are expected to have a different connotation for what authenticity stands for them. Further, the quest for attaining an optimal balance between ‘authentic self’ and ‘accepted self’ should generate tensions is detrimental for the individual’s well-being. The current study explores the nature of challenges for authenticity in the form of tensions that obstructs the realization of the meanings of authentic for athletes.
Fellow, OB-HRM & Sports Management, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholms län, Sweden
Authenticity,Sports,Narrative analysis,Optimal distinctiveness theory