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The Circus Is in Town - Sport, Celebrity, and Spectacle

The Circus Is in Town

Sport, Celebrity, and Spectacle

Edited by Lisa Doris Alexander & Joel Nathan Rosen
Foreword by David C. Ogden
Afterword by Jack Lule
Hardcover : 9781496836502, 332 pages, January 2022
Paperback : 9781496836557, 332 pages, January 2022

A tracking of the most explosive collisions between athletic reputation and public scandal


Contributions by Lisa Doris Alexander, Matthew H. Barton, Andrew C. Billings, Carlton Brick, Ted M. Butryn, Brian Carroll, Arthur T. Challis, Roxane Coche, Curtis M. Harris, Jay Johnson, Melvin Lewis, Jack Lule, Rory Magrath, Matthew A. Masucci, Andrew McIntosh, Jorge E. Moraga, Leigh M. Moscowitz, David C. Ogden, Joel Nathan Rosen, Kevin A. Stein, and Henry Yu

In this fifth book on sport and the nature of reputation, editors Lisa Doris Alexander and Joel Nathan Rosen have tasked their contributors with examining reputation from the perspective of celebrity and spectacle, which in some cases can be better defined as scandal. The subjects chronicled in this volume have all proven themselves to exist somewhere on the spectacular spectrum—the spotlight seemed always to gravitate toward them. All have displayed phenomenal feats of athletic prowess and artistry, and all have faced a controversy or been thrust into a situation that grows from age-old notions of the spectacle. Some handled the hoopla like the champions they are, or were, while others struggled and even faded amid the hustle and flow of their runaway celebrity. While their individual narratives are engrossing, these stories collectively paint a portrait of sport and spectacle that offers context and clarity.

Written by a range of scholarly contributors from multiple disciplines, The Circus Is in Town: Sport, Celebrity, and Spectacle contains careful analysis of such megastars as LeBron James, Tonya Harding, David Beckham, Shaquille O’Neal, Maria Sharapova, and Colin Kaepernick. This final volume of a project that has spanned the first three decades of the twenty-first century looks to sharpen questions regarding how it is that reputations of celebrity athletes are forged, maintained, transformed, repurposed, destroyed, and at times rehabilitated. The subjects in this collection have been driven by this notion of the spectacle in ways that offer interesting and entertaining inquiry into the arc of athletic reputations.


"A strong and readable book with intriguing and insightful essays on compelling figures including LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Tonya Harding, and Shaquille O’Neal, The Circus Is in Town is definitely worth the time of sports scholars and nonacademic fans who want to learn more about how heroes and GOATs are made and remade again in the world of big-time athletics. "

- Michael Ezra, professor of American multicultural studies at Sonoma State University

"In this fifth and final volume of a series that explores the intersection of sport, media, performance, popular culture, and the complexly constructed identities of all-too-human professional celebrity-athletes, coeditors Lisa Doris Alexander and Joel Nathan Rosen have cleared the high bar set by the previous efforts. More than mere closure, however, The Circus Is in Town focuses on the collective expectations negotiated between fans, communities, and the players themselves as those expectations are filtered simultaneously through the lenses of real-time performance (on and off the court/pitch/field), images brushed by commercial advertising, and media ranging from hometown friendly (or not) news outlets to national publications and broadcasts. Add in the compelling storylines and reads-like-a-novel prose, and you wind up with that rare breed of academic publishing: the intellectually stout book that is, above all, eminently readable and engaging. "

- Mark Panek, author of Gaijin Yokozuna: A Biography of Chad Rowan

"This excellent fifth, and final, text in a series on athletic celebrity and reputation since 2008’s first installment, Reconstructing Fame: Sport, Race, and Evolving Reputations, continues the work of investigating the spectacle of sport in society using examples ranging from Lebron James to the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor “money fight” and varied other examples of our contemporary sporting zeitgeist in between."

- Josh Sopiarz, Journal of Popular Culture