This portion of the website is intended for individuals in and around the sports clubs and fieldwork sites where Greg is working. If you’re not involved in these sites but think you could contribute to the project, please contact Greg via the links below.


Thanks for your interest in Hard Knock Life. Hopefully you’ve found this website following a conversation with Greg; after seeing information online; or after seeing a poster at your sports club. The intention here is to provide you with a little more information about the project so that you can make an informed decision about your participation. Key documentation has also been made available so that you be assured that the project is progressing in an ethically sensitive manner.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Greg either in person or via the links below.

What is the project about?

Credit: Patrick Hales, UCL. Licensed under CC BY

The last ten years have seen increasing anxiety about the risks associated with head injuries suffered during sporting activity. These fears are related to ‘Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy’ (CTE), a recently named form of dementia caused by blows to the head. Given the number of sports with a risk of CTE, there are increasing concerns about a ‘silent epidemic’ of dementias which has led to calls for technological innovation, rule change, and legislation to ward against the disease.

This project involves fieldwork in three diverse sporting contexts in order to understand CTE. It considers how practitioners understand themselves, their brains, and their conduct given the possibility of brain injury and how knowledge of the brain, dementia, class, race, and gender shape one another. Findings from the project will contribute to our understanding of CTE as an emerging diagnosis and how it affects athletes and sporting practice.

What does the project actually involve?

Photo by Riley McCullough on Unsplash

The project involves fieldwork in a number of sites in order to understand CTE. A great deal of fieldwork will be focused upon observation (or ‘ethnography’) and interviews  undertaken in three sporting contexts. Ethnography will involve attending matches, practices, and any other relevant team activities for a period of around one year.

Photo by Simone Acquaroli on Unsplash

This ethnographic work will be complemented by additional qualitative interviews undertaken with key stakeholders (e.g. research scientists; representatives from governing bodies; representatives from charities).

Will everyone who comes under observation need to give informed consent?

As mentioned above, research will involve attending sporting contests. Obviously a lot of people come and go from sports clubs and events and there will be individuals (e.g. spectators, opposition players) who are not central to the research project and who will not have provided informed consent. This is very typical of projects like this. These individuals will not come under observation in non-public places, nor will they be central to the research process, nor will any identifying information be included in any outputs. If you think you may be such an individual and you’re worried about the project please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Greg – if any notes have been made about you then they can be deleted.

Will everyone who is interviewed give informed consent?

Yes! All participants will be given an information sheet, which contains lots of information about the project, and have the opportunity to ask further questions of Greg. Different information sheets have been produced for different participants. If you’d like to have a look now, you can download the information sheets by clicking the below links:

Photo by Larry Costales on Unsplash

Information sheet for 6-9 year olds

Information sheet for 10-15 year olds

Information sheet for adults

Once participants are satisfied with this information, they are asked to sign this consent form:

Participant consent form

Even after this process, participants are able to withdraw their data from the project. If you’ve previously been interviewed for the project and would like to discuss the removal of your data, please get in touch with Greg.

Where will my data be stored?

Your data will always be securely stored inside the Leeds University institutional firewall. There are some details about data storage in the adult information sheet (download above) but for those who like more details, the Data Management Plan can be downloaded here:

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Data Management Plan

What will happen to my data?

Greg will use the data collected from this project to produce journal articles and, in time, a book. All outputs will be freely available. Please check the ‘downloads’ page of this website in order to see what is being produced.

We’d also like to make anonymised data available to other researchers via Leeds University’s research archive. Again, if you’d like to chat about what this involves, please contact Greg.

How do I know that all of this is ethical?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Before undertaking any fieldwork Greg needed to submit an ethics form detailing exactly what he would be doing. Hopefully you’ve got a good sense of what the project involves now, but if you’d like to see that submission, you can download it here:

Greg’s ethics form

This submission was given approval by the Engineering, Social Sciences, and Law (ESSL) ethics review board in 2018:

Ethical approval

Again, any other queries please don’t hesitate to get in touch.