Head Games by Christopher Nowinski
Review / October 16, 2019

Although officially a book about (US) football, this study of a concussion crisis is important reading for anyone involved in professional wrestling. Nowinski is of course the former Tough Enough and WWE star Chris Harvard, who retired from the ring after a series of concussions. His account of these symptoms, the way the WWE officials reacted, and his decision to quit the business make up the first few chapters. The rest details and collates research into concussions, most notably among high school football players. It represents an important medical breakthrough, albeit one misrepresented and even mocked by some in the wrestling world. Nowinski’s research does not simply show that blows to the head that cause concussions can have long-term health implications, or that repeated chairshots to the head are a bad idea.  Instead, he illustrates a very different point: when a person who has recently suffered a concussion goes on to suffer a second concussion before being fully recovered, the medical effects are spectacularly magnified.  This is clearly an issue in sports such as US football where it had too often been the case that a concussed player is sent back on the field in the same game, let along missing a…

Release Schedule (16 October)
Release Schedule / October 16, 2019

One new entry this week, Wrestling in Britain: Sporting Entertainments, Celebrity and Audiences by Benjamin Litherland: At the intersection of sport, entertainment and performance, wrestling occupies a unique position in British popular culture. This is the first book to offer a detailed historical and cultural analysis of British professional wrestling, exploring the shifting popularity of the sport as well as its wider social significance. Arguing that the history of professional wrestling can help us understand key themes in sport, culture and performance that span the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it addresses topics such as: attitudes towards violence, representations of masculinity, the media and celebrity culture, consumerism and globalisation. By drawing on a variety of intellectual traditions and disciplines, the book explores the role of power in the development of popular cultural forms, the ways in which history structures the present, and the manner in which audiences construct identity and meaning through sport. Wrestling in Britain: Sporting Entertainments, Celebrity and Audiences is fascinating reading for all students and researchers with an interest in media and cultural studies, histories and sociologies of sport, or performance studies. (Note the academic book pricing.) 29 October: Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage (Routledge Advances in Theatre…