The Media Discourses of Concussions in the National Hockey League

Title: The Media Discourses of Concussions in the National Hockey League
Authors: Cabot, Jonathan
Date: 2017
Abstract: The North American ice hockey world has come to realise that concussions are a major problem and a threat to the sport and to the National Hockey League (NHL). The media coverage of the concussions suffered by several NHL stars and of the scientific advancements in the detection and long-term effects of concussions has intensified over the last 20 years. A discourse analysis of Canadian newspaper coverage of concussions in the NHL in 1997-1999 and 2010-2012 focusing on the production of discursive objects and subjects reveals two important discourses. On the one hand, emerging objects of the discourses of blame and responsibility for the concussions in the NHL gained prominence in the later timeframe, especially blame on the NHL, the rulebook and hockey’s violent and risk-taking culture. On the other hand, a shift in reporting saw the emergence of a new subject position for the concussed hockey player, that of a frail and vulnerable subject. More NHL players are covered as ‘suffering’ subjects concerned with both physical pain and the mental health problems associated to concussions, rather than merely as athletes. Indeed, the impact of concussions on the personal lives of players is now an object of discourses that also produce the NHL player as a family member. Finally, former hockey players’ stories who have suffered serious concussions are recounted as a cautionary tale, opposing early retirement as a result of health issues to persistence in playing despite such health concerns.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -