18 March 2013

And the Desensational Winner Is...

Anyone want naming rights to a new prize for sports books? Not all the details have been firmed up, but the general concept is to recognize and reward authors whose work lowers the volume of discussion on a particular controversial subject: desensationalizes the sensational, if you will.

If the award were to be given today, for example, when the spotlights came up, the music was turned down and the envelope ripped open, the winner would be Australian academic and Monash U. prof Deb Waterhouse-Watson for her Athletes, Sexual Assault, and "Trials by Media": Narrative Immunity. ASA and TbM is the latest of the (to-date) quartet of works on the legal, societal and cultural issues surrounding Aussie footballers gone a bit too far rogue.

The outrage is real and subject explosive, but you have to accept that a sentence reading, "Representation and discourse, therefore, are far from being conscious, intentional and unconstrained choices, but are governed by rules which constrain what can be said, where and by whom" will work to temper the flames of a bodice-ripped-from-the-tabloid-headlines tale. Neither the cover nor $125 price do much to set passions aboiling either. Plaudits and kudos all around.

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