“You’re gonna win and you’re gonna win it easy”: world-class athletes’ experiences of media expectations

Helen Heaviside, Andrew J. Manley, Susan Backhouse, Faye F. Didymus

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Speculation about athletes who are expected to become champions is a central focus of media reporters’ attention before major sporting events (e.g., Heaviside, Manley, Backhouse, & Didymus, 2015). Despite the prominence of such expectations within media reports, little is known about the consequences they can have for the athletes to whom they refer. This study aimed to explore the consequences of these expectations by using in-depth qualitative methods to capture athletes’ experiences of performance expectations that are reported by the media. Guided by the first author’s pragmatist perspective, semi-structured interviews (78-128 minutes) were conducted with two athletes (Mage = 23, SD = 2.83 years) who met the criteria of: (a) having performance expectations reported in the media ahead of the London 2012 Games and (b) representing Great
Britain within individual events at London 2012. The small sample size was purposefully chosen to facilitate rich and nuanced accounts of the athletes’ experiences. Two portrait vignettes were used to represent the data because they allow experiences to be represented in a meaningful and accessible manner (e.g., Erickson, Backhouse & Carless, 2016). The vignettes detailed cognitive, affective, and behavioural consequences of performance expectations that were constructed and reported by the media. The vignettes also represented coping strategies that were used by the athletes to manage these expectations. The findings of this study enhance understanding of multiple factors: (i) behaviours associated with media expectations that journalists might display towards athletes; (ii) cognitive, affective, and behavioural consequences that athletes may experience when faced with media expectations; and (iii) strategies that athletes have used to manage media expectations. By using vignettes, the present study exemplifies an alternative way of presenting data regarding expectations, which other researchers in this area may wish to utilise.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Society of Sport Psychology 14th World Congress - Seville, Spain
Duration: 10 Jul 201714 Jul 2017

Academic conference

Academic conferenceInternational Society of Sport Psychology 14th World Congress


Dive into the research topics of '“You’re gonna win and you’re gonna win it easy”: world-class athletes’ experiences of media expectations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this