Violent encounters: mediatization, socio-medical legitimation, TBI, and CTE--lived experiences of NFL players, military veterans, and their caretakers
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Clinical Researchers recently identified NFL players and US military veterans as high-risk populations for sustaining repetitive Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and developing the neurodegenerative disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). American culture celebrates military veterans as national heroes, and NFL players as popular athletes and social icons. Both subcultures are constructed around hyper-masculine ideals embedded in tenants of violence and aggression, suffer repeated TBIs due to this nature, and are ultimately at high-risk for developing CTE. The TBI/CTE phenomenon also affects family members who assume care-taking responsibilities for these first two populations as their loved one’s symptoms persist. The purpose of this research is to understand the TBI/CTE experiences of NFL players, military veterans, and their caretakers, and how all three populations intersect with mediatization and the social and medical legitimation of TBI/CTE in America. Using narratives from all three populations, I explore how power dynamics within the NFL and US military have intersected with modern media outlets and functioned to socio-medically legitimize a sick role for those who suffer from persistent symptoms of TBI and CTE.