Athletes Breaking Bad

Essays on Transgressive Sports Figures


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About the Book

At their basic level, sporting events are about numbers: wins and losses, percentages and points, shots and saves, clocks and countdowns. However, sports narratives quickly leave the realm of statistics. The stories we tell and retell, sometimes for decades, make sports dramatic and compelling. Just like any great drama, sports imply conflict, not just battles on the field of play, but clashes of personalities, goals, and strategies. In telling these stories, we create heroes, but we also create villains. This book is about the latter, those players who transgress norms and expectations and who we label the “bad boys” of sports. Using a variety of approaches, these 13 new essays examine the cultural, social, and rhetorical implications of sports villainy. Each chapter focuses on a different athlete and sport, questioning issues such as how notorious sports figures are defined to be “bad” within particular sports and within the larger culture, the role media play in creating antiheroes, fan reactions when players cross boundaries, and how those boundaries shift depending on the athlete’s gender, sexuality, and race.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

John C. Lamothe is an associate professor of humanities and communication at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. He has written and spoken widely about a variety of issues related to athletics.

Donna J. Barbie is an associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of humanities and communication at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has written about celebrity and cultural studies.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by John C. Lamothe and Donna J. Barbie

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7708-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3953-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Introduction: Coding and Decoding “Badness” (Donna J. Barbie and John C. Lamothe) 1
“Not Good for the Sport”? Fabulous Figure Skater and Controversial Critic Johnny Weir (Lynnette Porter) 9
John Daly: Golf’s Enfant Terrible (Donna J. Barbie) 28
Nothing but the Truth: The Rise and Fall of Marion Jones (Brock T. Adams) 44
Lessons from #LochMess: Ryan Lochte in Our ­Rush-to-Judgment Culture (Steve Master) 61
Diego Maradona: The Hand of God (Ismael Lopez Medel) 80
Barry Bonds v. Alex Rodriguez: Don’t Hate the Player; Hate the ­Steroid-Manufactured Game (Brock T. Adams) 95
No Coward: Hope Solo Battles Against the Status Quo, Injustices and, Sometimes, Her Own Poor Decisions (Joe Gisondi) 112
The Book of Dale Earnhardt: Beyond the Intimidator’s Last Lap (Teresa Marie Kelly) 127
“Often an Eyeful, Sometimes an Earful, but Always a Handful”: Dennis Rodman, Quintessential NBA Bad Boy (Sarah D. Fogle) 146
Reframing Jameis Winston: Fan Response When Players Go “Bad” (John C. Lamothe) 162
When “Bad Boys” Resist, “Good Ol’ Boys” Revolt: Colin Kaepernick’s NFL Protest (Taylor Joy Mitchell and Jessica McKee) 175
Ronda Rousey from Badgirl to “Femininely Badass” (Joseph M.M. Aldinger) 194
The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of “The Baddest Man on the Planet”: Bad Boy Mike Tyson (Brandy Mmbaga and Nick Mmbaga) 208
About the Contributors 221
Index 225