The novel This Sporting Life by David Storey is used in this article as fictive, ethnographic data to explore the relationship between sports work, industrial organization, identity, and the management of the body. Drawing upon the work of Pierre Bourdieu on sport, and rugby specifically, and the relationship between sport, the body, class, and rationalization, this paper argues that David Storey provides a vivid, if pessimistic, fictional, and semi-autobiographical account of the ways in which sports, and sports work specifically, is driven by management discourses of rationality and control. We examine how this functions as class exploitation where labour is embodied and expended as a form of bodily capital. Lastly, we offer a critique of the precarious social mobility that sports work promises. Through Storey’s Rugby League playing fictional anti-hero – Art Machin – we explore the central struggle between social structures and individual agency.