The Value of the Dark Side : An Insight into the Risks and Benefits of Engaging in Health-compromising Practices from the Perspective of Competitive Bodybuilders / Anne Probert, Sarah Leberman. - (European Sport Management Quarterly 9 (2009) 4 (20 November); p. 353-373)
- Issue: The Dark Side of Sport
- DOI: 10.1080/16184740903331838
Phenomenological accounts of competitive bodybuilders have emphasized positive experiences, whilst critical and clinical perspectives have predominantly portrayed the sport as unhealthy and detrimental to participants. This article provides insights from competitive bodybuilders in New Zealand relating to their health-compromising and risky experiences within the sport. Interviews with thirty-two competitive bodybuilders were undertaken, highlighting their conscious decisions to engage in health-compromising practices and also their vulnerabilities. Stories of steroid use, the extremes of dieting, eating disorders and obsessive behaviour are provided. The research confirms that there is a dark side to competitive bodybuilding, but there are also pleasures and value associated with these encounters. These can prove meaningful to personal and athletic identity and enable participants to test their boundaries and internal strengths—experiences that may contribute to personal growth, therapy and a sense of “self-affirmation”.