Performance Versus Safety: Understanding the Logics of Cultural Narratives Influencing Concussion Reporting Behaviors

Scott W. Ruston, Jessica K. Kamrath, Alaina Zanin, Karlee Posteher, Steven Corman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Athlete safety and concussion injury have garnered considerable attention recently, and appropriate evaluation of athletes following head impacts depends, in part, on athletes’ self-reporting of the symptoms. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has focused primarily on concussion injury education to encourage self-reporting; however, such efforts have not been especially effective and many potential injuries continue to go unreported. This research investigates cultural narratives, derived from sports media and popular culture, and how their narrative logics contribute to the context in which student-athletes make head injury reporting decisions and how these narratives offer templates for understanding potential consequences. We argue that performance-oriented narratives are more prevalent and showcase pathways to more immediate satisfaction of desires or goals. Ultimately, we argue that not only does analysis of prevailing cultural narratives illuminate the context in which athletes make reporting decisions but also that such understanding could inform narrative-based interventions in order to emphasize and model recommended behaviors, such as injury reporting, and values, such as long-term brain health and player wellness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-548
Number of pages20
JournalCommunication and Sport
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • concussion reporting
  • cultural narrative
  • media influence
  • narrative logic
  • sports communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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