Game Misconduct

Injury, Fandom, and the Business of Sport

By Nathan Kalman-Lamb  

Paperback $25.00

“‘You’re not a human being, you’re a number, a product, an asset as long as you can perform. If you can’t perform, then you’re a liability and they’ll drop you.’”

Professional athletes suffer tremendous damage to their bodies over the course of their careers. Some literally lose years from their lives because of their injuries. Why do athletes sacrifice themselves? Is it the price of being a professional? Is it all for the fans, or the money? What’s clear is that the physical and emotional tolls of being a professional athlete may not be worthwhile. In Game Misconduct, Nathan Kalman-Lamb takes us into the world of professional hockey players to illustrate how money, consumerism and fandom contribute to the life-altering injuries of professional athletes.

Unlike many critical takes on professional sports, Kalman-Lamb illustrates how the harm suffered by the athlete is a necessary part of what makes professional sport a desirable commodity for the consuming fan. In an economic system — capitalism — that deprives people of meaning because of its inherent drive to turn everyone into individuals and everything into commodities, sports fandom produces a feeling of community. But there is a cost to producing this meaning and community, and it is paid through the sacrifice of the athlete’s body.

Drawing on extensive interviews with fans and former professional hockey players, Kalman-Lamb reveals the troubling dynamics and dangerous costs associated with the world of professional and semi-professional sport.

Kalman-Lamb’s book lends a very important perspective into the microcosm that is sports and what it may be saying about humanity.

— Royce White, NCAA, NBA and NBLC player

Bringing high theory to the hockey rink, Nathan Kalman-Lamb has done what few other critical sports scholars have: write a book that is both scholarly rigorous and accessible to the everyday sports fan. Game Misconduct shines the flood lights on the dark corners of the sports industry. Is another world of sports possible, one free of exploitation, alienation, and the sacrifice of athletic bodies? Read this book and find out for yourself.

— Simon Black, former NCAA athlete and sports columnist for Canadian Dimension magazine

At the heart of professional sports, insists Nathan Kalman-Lamb, is the sacrifice of the athletic body. Wading through a battlefield of injured players, obsessed fans, and profit-hungry owners, Game Misconduct reveals ugly secrets of the sports business. After reading this incisive analysis, none of us will ever watch a sports event in quite the same way—nor should we.

— David McNally, author of Global Slump

Kalman-Lamb’s brilliant, quite moving study of hockey, injury, and identity gives us a model for critical sports studies at their very best.

— Orin Starn, author of The Passion of Tiger Woods: An Anthropologist Reports on Golf, Race, and Celebrity Scandal

A path-breaking book that invites readers into radical analysis by way of the absorbing stories of professional athletes and their fans.

— Alan Sears, author of The Next New Left

Nathan Kalman-Lamb’s eloquent and well-researched book Game Misconduct has has moved the discussion of sport and social inequality to a new terrain.

— Gamal Abdel-Shehid, York University

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Reviews

  • This book will surely initiate discussion and generate some controversy along the way. As for the sports fan, it is a “must-read.”

    — The Miramichi Reader, March 2018 (full review)

Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Sport, Spectacle, and Sacrifice
  • Hockey Players Talk About Their Work
  • Manufacturing Fans
  • Imagined Communities of Fandom
  • Sacrificing the Self
  • Re-imagining Sport and Spectatorship
  • Notes
  • Index

Authors

  • Nathan Kalman-Lamb

    Nathan Kalman-Lamb is a lecturing fellow in the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University, where he teaches on social inequality and sports. His research and teaching focus on labour, race, multiculturalism, gender, spectatorship and sport.

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