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Fallen Sports Heroes, Media, & Celebrity Culture

Lawrence A. Wenner

This book has won the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title award 2014.

Fallen Sports Heroes, Media, and Celebrity Culture focuses on the increasingly ubiquitous phenomenon whereby notable figures from the sporting world fall from grace in full public view on the main stages of media. While such falls are of remarkably varied character, they fuel questions about the role of the sports hero, the co-mingling of sport and celebrity culture, and the changing nature of moral fault lines in contemporary society. In examining the «hero to villain arc» of sport celebrity, this volume features leading scholars from the fields of media, sport, and cultural studies who bring diverse vantage points to understanding how contemporary sport celebrities become heroes and gain fame and then fall precipitously from grace through a variety of «sporting offenses.» The sagas of star athletes as well as coaches and sportscasters are examined running the gamut from substance abuse (from performance-enhancing and recreational drugs to alcoholism) to sexual «improprieties» (from bad sexual manners to sexual assault to sex addiction to homophobia to questions over verification of sex) to routine thuggery (aimed not only at opponents but seen in extracurricular gun play and dogfighting) to questionable politics (demonstrating loyalties ranging from «good» nationalism to «bad»). The intriguing analyses featured here make us think about our cultural preoccupation with sports, the prospects for finding heroes in celebrity culture, and the moral complexities that are engaged as sport heroes fall and sometimes rise again redeemed.
Contents: Lawrence A. Wenner: The Fallen Sports Hero in the Age of Mediated Celebrityhood – Toby Miller: Exposing Celebrity Sports – William J. Morgan: Athletic Heroic Acts and Living on the Moral Edge – Bryan E. Denham: From Coverage to Recovery: Mediating the Fallen Sports Celebrity – Andrew C. Billings: Tiger Woods Lands in the Rough: Golf, Apologia, and the Heroic Limits of Privacy – C. Lee Harrington/Kimberly S. Schimmel: Andre Agassi and the Tides of Tennis Celebrity: Image, Reconstruction, and Confession – Lindsey J. Meân: On Track, off Track, on Oprah: The Framing of Marion Jones as Golden Girl and American Fraud – Becky Beal: The Ups and Downs of Skating Vertical: Christian Hosoi, Crystal Meth, and Christianity – James L. Cherney/Kurt Lindemann: Wrestling with Extremes: Steroids, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Chris Benoit – Pirkko Markula/Zoe Avner: Bad Landing: Charting the Gold and Criminal Records of Finnish Ski Jumper, Matti Nykänen – Alistair John/Toni Bruce/Steven J. Jackson: Traitor on High Seas: Russell Coutts, Kiwi Loyalty, and Opportunism in International Yachting – Cheryl Cooky/Shari L. Dworkin: Running Down What Comes Naturally: Gender Verification and South Africa’s Caster Semenya – Michael D. Giardina/Mar Magnusen: Dog Bites Man? The Criminalization and Rehabilitation of Michael Vick – Katherine L. Lavelle: Guns Are No Joke: Framing Plaxico Burress, Gilbert Arenas, and Gunplay in Professional Sports – Mary G. McDonald/Cheryl Cooky: Interrogating Discourses About the WNBA’s «Bad Girls»: Intersectionality and the Politics of Representation – Oliver Rick/Michael L. Silk/David L. Andrews: Liquid Beckham: Inoculating a Star Against Falls from Grace – Bill Grantham: No Gagging Matter: John Terry Plays Centre Back from Dad of the Year to (Alleged) Debauchery – Jim McKay/Karen Brooks: «Wayne’s World»: Media Narratives of Downfall and Redemption About Australian Football «King», Wayne Carey – David Rowe: Spinning out of Control: Harbhajan Singh, Postcolonial Cricket Celebrity, and the «Revenge Narrative» – Marie Hardin/Nicole M. LaVoi: The «Bully» and the «Girl Who Did What She Did»: Neo-Homophobia in Coverage of Two Women’s College Basketball Coaches – Michael L. Butterworth: Coaches Gone Wild: Media, Masculinity, and Morality in Big-Time College Football – Kevin Young/Michael Atkinson: Faking It: Dean Richards, Rugby Union, and Harlequins at the Bloodgate – Heather L. Hundley: Who’s Sorry Now? Sportscasters Falling from Grace, Saving Face – Jay Scherer/Lisa McDermott: Don Cherry and the Cultural Politics of Rock’Em Sock’Em Nationalism: Complicating the Hero-Villain Binary in Canada – Scott Tinley: Beyond the Failed Sports Hero: Where We All Fall Down.