1st Edition

Sociocultural Examinations of Sports Concussions

Edited By Matt Ventresca, Mary McDonald Copyright 2020
    208 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    208 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Sport’s "concussion crisis" has been characterized by controversial scientific discoveries, athlete suicides, and high-profile lawsuits involving professional sports leagues, while provoking widespread media coverage, changes to game rules, and debate about the future of many popular sports. Sociocultural Examinations of Sports Concussion is the first edited collection to bring together multiple sociocultural perspectives on sports concussion that interrogate the social, economic, political, and historical forces shaping the cultural impacts of these injuries.


    Each of the ten chapters moves beyond biomedical or neuroscientific paradigms to critically examine a specific intersection of sociocultural factors influencing public perceptions about concussion or athlete experiences of brain injury. These include analyses of media and advertising, medical treatment and diagnostic protocols, gender and masculinity, developments in equipment and scientific models, economics and labor politics, understandings of trauma and recovery, public health philosophies, and disciplinary differences in framing the ontologies of concussion.


    Drawing from a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches, Sociocultural Examinations of Sports Concussion offers a diverse set of analyses examining brain injuries as cultural and embodied phenomena affecting more than just athletes’ brains, but also embedded within and (re)shaping meanings, identities, and social contexts. It is valuable reading for graduate students and researchers interested in the experience and treatment of sports concussion, sports sociology, and sports technology.

    Part 1: Introduction

    1. Forces of Impact: Critically Examining Sports’ Concussion Crises

    Matt Ventresca and Mary G. McDonald

    Part 2: History, Health, Ethics

    2. Concussion, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, and the Medicalization of Sport

    Dominic Malcolm

    3. "A Clear Conscience": Advertising Football Equipment and Responsibility for Injuries

    Kathleen Bachynski

    4. Football Helmet Safety and the Veil of Standards

    Daniel R. Morrison

    5. What Does the Precautionary Principle Demand of Us? Ethics, Population Health Policy, and Sport-Related TBI

    Daniel Goldberg

    Part 3: The Politics of Trauma, Experience, and Research

    6. "I Kinda’ Lost My Sense of Who I Was": Foregrounding Youths’ Experiences in Critical Conversations about Sport-Related Concussions

    William Bridel, Matt Ventresca, Danika Kelly, Kevin Viliunas, and Kathryn Schneider

    7. Trauma and Recovery: Boxing and Violence Against Women in a ‘Neurological Age’

    Cathy van Ingen

    8. The Athlete’s Body and the Social Text of Suicide

    Sean Brayton and Michelle Helstein

    9. Brain Politics: Gendered Difference and Traumatic Brain Injury in Sport

    Kathryn Henne

    10. Beyond the Biopsychosocial: A Case for Critical Qualitative Concussion Research

    Matt Ventresca


    Matt Ventresca is a postdoctoral associate in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada) where he is affiliated with the Integrated Concussion Research Program. Dr. Ventresca previously completed his PhD at Queen’s University and was postdoctoral fellow in the School of History and Sociology at the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA). Matt’s research concerns the intersections of social inequalities, media, and science in the contexts of sport and health. His current work focuses on the sociocultural implications of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in sports contexts, centering, specifically, on the processes through which knowledge about TBI gets produced through media representations and scientific research practices. Matt studies the sociocultural dimensions of pain and injury in sports more broadly, as well as the promotional cultures surrounding popular men’s health initiatives.

    Mary G. McDonald is the Homer C. Rice Chair in Sports and Society in the School of History and Sociology at the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA). A past president of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, Professor McDonald’s research focuses on American culture and sport including issues of inequality as related to gender, race, class and sexuality. She recently has begun to expand this analysis by engaging Science and Technology Studies theories and methods to critically investigate sporting technologies. As Homer Rice Chair, she is directing the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts initiative, the Sports, Society, and Technology Program.