"The same or different? ": Using a critical discourse analysis to explore dominant discourses of coaching parasport athletes over a 20-year time span


The media is a powerful outlet capable of influencing our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours about a particular phenomenon, including parasport coaches who play an active role in raising awareness and exposure for parasport. The purpose of this study was to examine how newspaper media portrayed dominant discourses surrounding parasport coaches. Data were collected using the LexisNexis Academic database to search for full-text newspaper articles from January 1, 1999 to January 1, 2019. Eighty-three articles were included for review from 66 newspaper sources. We conducted a critical discourse analysis and through an iterative analytical process, we identified two subject positions of how parasport coaches were portrayed. Within the first subject position, the media presented the idea that there were minimal differences in the training, dedication, and perseverance of coaches and athletes with and without impairments. Although this view of "we're all the same" can be empowering, it also has the potential to dismiss the importance of the impairment for athletes. Comparatively, the second subject position identified considerations for coaches working with athletes with impairments. This perspective acknowledges impairment as a factor that may pose a barrier towards full inclusion in sport, while suggesting practical solutions to enhance their sporting experiences. Taken together, there are two contrasting ideas being presented on how to coach athletes with impairments. Listening to the few messages portrayed from parasport coaches themselves, it is imperative to provide coaches with a voice in the media to raise awareness of the barriers and facilitators involved in parasport progression.

Acknowledgments: Funding: Fonds de Recherche du Quebec en Sociéte et Culture (FRQSC), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).