Faculty of Kinesiology Thesis Oral Examination - Jenna Downey-FR and SJ

Event Date(s):
August 24, 2021
01:30 PM - 03:30 PM
Both Campuses
Both Campuses

Event Details:

The thesis titled, "Elite Sport, Human Suffering & The Role of Mindfulness", will be defended by Jenna Downey on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at 1:30 p.m. via Teams.

All are welcome.


The nature of sport requires athletes to exert their bodies and minds in pursuit of
excellence. As part of this pursuit athletes must endure a necessary level of sport-related
suffering, including sore muscles, fatigue, and managing pain, fear, and stress. However,
within the context of elite sport this required suffering is often accompanied by
extraneous, unnecessary suffering. Suffering becomes unnecessary when it no longer
serves to propel the athlete in the direction of their goals or inhibits their ability to
flourish as a human being. Contemporary examples of the unnecessary suffering within
elite sport are highlighted in the cases of Clara Hughes, Mary Cain, and most recently
Naomi Osaka. While each athlete expects and accepts the necessary forms of suffering
inherent to sport, not all athletes are equipped to cope with the breadth of suffering that
exists within today’s elite sport systems. As such, this study utilizes a philosophical lens
to both examine the understanding of suffering within the context of sport and to suggest
that elite sport organizations and governing bodies consider implementing mindfulness as
an “internal support mechanism” that may help athletes reduce the impact of their
experiences with sport-related suffering—particularly that which is unnecessary— and
thereby cultivate flourishing both in and outside of sport. This is not to position
mindfulness as an alternative to the systematic changes required to eliminate exploitive
and abusive practices in the sporting world; rather the practice of mindfulness may help
athletes maintain their ability to flourish and achieve excellence despite suffering being a
necessary component of sport participation.

Building: Via Teams


Leslie Harquail
1 506 453 4575