News Stories

Drs. Bell and Applequist Win National Book Award

Two Zimmerman School researchers, Assistant Professor Travis R. Bell and Associate Professor Janelle Applequist, along with their co-author Christian Dotson-Pierson (University of South Carolina), received the Outstanding Book Award from the National Communication Association’s Communication and Sports Division.

Travis Bell Janelle Applequist

The National Communication Association represents the largest national organization in our field, making this a particularly humbling honor. Drs. Bell, Applequist, and Pierson published their book CTE, Media, and the NFL: Framing a Public Health Crisis as a Football Epidemic in 2019.

Their research examines the central role of media in constructing an entangled relationship between chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the National Football League (NFL), challenging a predominantly symbiotic sports/media complex. They analyzed more than a decade of media coverage, along with three prominent films, to unpack how media discourse resurrects CTE, a preventable neurodegenerative brain disease linked to boxing in 1928, and subsequently frames it as a football epidemic dating back to 2005.

CTE, Media, and the NFL

Bell, Applequist, and Dotson-Pierson position CTE as a public health crisis, whereby media coverage of CTE and the NFL’s vigorous reliance on controversial published research by the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) Committee parallels the moral panic of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and Big Tobacco’s manufacturing of doubt through faulty science.

The book received national media coverage on NPR and WGN America, along with local television and radio stories. More information on the book can be found here.