Deconstructing the Jersey Toss

"The medium is the message." (1964)

“The medium is the message.” (1964)

The jersey of any sports team, professional or not, holds a history, a story, and many different meanings. The message that resonates with any sports jersey is different depending on who is involved in the communication process. To some, the jersey simply designates who plays on what team. For others, a jersey holds significant, personal meaning which can be immersed in a narrative to build and share.

During two embarrassing losses on home ice this past season, two Edmonton Oilers jerseys were tossed by fans on to the ice. Both were acts of frustration and disapproval towards the club and their miserable performance. Many understood why the fans threw the jersey, while others, including Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens, questioned why the jersey was used as the medium to send a message.

“I’m from (Edmonton). You’re not just disrespecting guys in the room you’re disrespecting guys who wore the jersey before us … Messier, Gretzky, they all take pride in wearing that jersey. You’re a fan, you get to say and do whatever you want, call me whatever name you want, but when it comes to that logo, that’s a sacred thing for us. It’s disheartening for me to see our fans treat it that way.” (Canoe.ca)

The crumpled jersey on the ice for all to see was significant because it was an extreme response to a poor performance. It brought to light the narratives, history and meaning we each have as fans of the team. And, aside from the disrespect to the past players as Scrivens pointed out, the toss of the jersey also challenged and disrupted the traditional communication channels sports fans have established with their team. Read more of this post

Drop-In Ball Hockey at the YMCA: An Ethnographic Study

“It’s fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A” goes the refrain of the famous Village People disco song. As someone studying sport policy, I decided to see if it’s true.

What is the experience of a new visitor to a Toronto-area YMCA drop-in ball hockey program? Some students at an English language centre where I occasionally teach have memberships at this particular YMCA location, which allows them to participate in drop-in ball hockey alongside other fitness programs. None of them (to my knowledge) has tried this sport, though some have considered participating especially after being “inspired” from watching hockey during the recent Winter Olympics.

I have played ball hockey extensively at various different settings. Some friends at one location would affectionately call me “Captain” because I would be the most outspoken in terms of enforcing fair play. To be honest, my understanding of “sportsmanlike conduct” was inspired by years of watching Don Cherry in his Coach’s Corner segment every Saturday night: “humble” but “vicious competitors” that exemplify the spirit of being “good ol’ Canadian boys” (Allain, 2011). Other times, particularly when I play drop-in hockey with complete strangers as a younger, smaller, and less-skilled participant, I want to blend in as seamlessly as possible without questioning the “old boy’s club” culture of playing hard and leaving non-hockey topics out of the conversation.

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Weekly Links: Cultural significance of Canadiens in Quebec; Boston arena upgrade without public money; Crowdfunding project for hockey analytics, and more

Source: CBC.ca

Source: CBC.ca

Welcome to Hockey in Society’s Weekly Links post. This feature highlights articles or blog entries that are related to Hockey in Society’s areas of interest and that may be of interest to the site’s readers. Please check out some of the great writing that is happening in the hockey media and blogosphere!

  • Let the playoffs begin!! [SB Nation]
  • An essay on the cultural significance of the Montreal Canadiens in Quebec, in light of sociopolitical trends in the province.

    [The Barnstormer]

  • The Boston Bruins are completing $70 million of upgrades to the TD Garden this offseason and, shockingly, are doing so without asking for public money. Proof that profit-making sports teams can afford to finance their own stadiums? [Think Progress]
  • Corey Sznajder of the Shut Down Line blog is seeking funding for a unique project where he’ll be tracking and sharing specific hockey data. Corey will be tracking zone entries, which is not collected anywhere else and will be providing his results in exchange for a small donation to his project. [Go Fund Me]
  • Legal analyst Eric Macramalla gives some insight into what Ryan Malone can expect following his DUI and possession of cocaine. [TSN]
  • Some interesting analysis of goalie hot streaks and how difficult it can be to measure their performance at times. [FiveThirtyEight]
  • Economists with the Conference Board of Canada believe the economy can handle three additional NHL teams. Quebec City, Hamilton and a second team in Toronto were found to be favorable spots if the NHL were to expand. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Eric Morris looks into the injury protocol for serious injuries, such as the one suffered by Daniel Sedin in the final game of the season. [Undisclosed Injury]
  • Facebook created a map of where fans of the playoff teams are located. [Business Insider]
  • Mark Pavelich, who won gold with Team USA in 1980 as a forward, is selling his medal for family reasons. [Yahoo!]
  • The NHL is facing another lawsuit from former players including Dave Christian, Reed Larson and William Bennett. The players are seeking compensation for the head injuries they suffered while in the NHL. [CBC]

Weekly Links: Race and the treatment of Evander Kane; Hockey media news and insight; Quintal replaces Shanahan at NHL head office; and more

Welcome to Hockey in Society’s Weekly Links post. This feature highlights articles or blog entries that are related to Hockey in Society’s areas of interest and that may be of interest to the site’s readers. Please check out some of the great writing that is happening in the hockey media and blogosphere!

  • Arctic Ice Hockey examines the role of race in the treatment in Winnipeg of the Jets’ Evander Kane. [Arctic Ice Hockey]
  • William Douglas gives a historical overview of Asians’ involvement in professional hockey. [Color of Hockey]
  • Sportsnet is seeking input from fans and developing a Fan Advisory Panel. Fans can provide input on programming and other broadcast concepts.  [Sportsnet]
  • Pat Maclean looks into some of the false narratives built by media and the negative ramifications of poor information. A fantastic piece. [Black Dog Hates Skunks]
  • With news the the Canadian government is slashing its budget by $130 million, the CBC has announced that it will no longer bid on professional sports, including, obviously, hockey broadcasts. [CBC]

Read more of this post

Weekly Links: Popularity of NHL teams; Edmonton Oilers honor First Nations community; Charles Wang potentially selling majority share of Islanders; and more

Welcome to Hockey in Society’s Weekly Links post. This feature highlights articles or blog entries that are related to Hockey in Society’s areas of interest and that may be of interest to the site’s readers. Please check out some of the great writing that is happening in the hockey media and blogosphere!

  • Bob Nicholson is set to resign as CEO of Hockey Canada. During his tenure, Canada has won seven Olympic gold medals, 12 world junior titles, five men’s world championships and 10 women’s world championships. [The Globe and Mail]
  • The Edmonton Oilers hosted a Celebration of First Nations Hockey last week as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada event. The club honored Fred Sasakamoose, the first Canadian of First Nations descent to play in the NHL, as well as other residential school hockey players and their descendants. The Oilers also announced that 20 spots at their annual hockey school will be held specifically for First Nations across Alberta. [Edmonton Oilers]
  • An interesting take on how junior players are being labelled as bullies by the league for their on-ice behavior. [National Post]
  • It appears that New York Islanders owner Charles Wang is looking to sell the majority of his stake in the franchise. [Lighthouse Hockey]
  • The two minor league players who staged a fight, that ended with a hug and a beer, have been suspended by the Federal Hockey League. [National Post]
  • Calgary Flames President Brian Burke continues to speak out against homophobia in hockey. [CBC]
  • A look into unregulated, “outlaw”, leagues, which are becoming a popular option for youth hockey players. [CBC]
  • Fifethirtyeight looked at the popularity of NHL teams based on Google searches. No surprise that the Habs and Leafs are at the top, while Nashville, Florida and Columbus are at the bottom. [FiveThirtyEight]
  • A very insightful piece on the importance of methods in hockey analytics.  [The Copper and Blue]
  • In case you missed it, the University of Alberta hosted a public lecture on hockey analytics. [University of Alberta]
  • And in honor of David Letterman, who is set to retire next year, a compilation of the top hockey moments on the Late Show. [Shnarped]

Weekly Links: Life in hockey’s minor-pro leagues; Critiquing perceptions of toughness in light of Rich Peverley’s collapse; CWHL and NCAA women’s champions crowned; and more

Welcome to Hockey in Society’s Weekly Links post. This feature highlights articles or blog entries that are related to Hockey in Society’s areas of interest and that may be of interest to the site’s readers. Please check out some of the great writing that is happening in the hockey media and blogosphere!

  • Really good read from Clare Austen on the reaction of some hockey fans to Rich Peverley’s collapse during a game a few weeks ago, with a critique of the “toughness” that many hockey people value over player safety. [Puckology]
  • Paul Hunter has a really insightful long-form piece about life for players and staff on the Brampton Beast, a new team in the Central Hockey League. Really fascinating insight into life in pro hockey’s minor leagues. [Toronto Star]
  • … while in NCAA action, Clarkson University upset the heavily favoured University of Minnesota (which had lost just one game all season) to capture the NCAA women’s hockey title. [Puck Daddy]
  • Matt Drake gives a historical overview of black hockey players in hockey, beginning with the Eastern Canadian Coloured Hockey League in the late 1800s up to the present day collection of stars such as PK Subban, Evander Kane and Jarome Iginla. [Habs Eyes on the Prize]

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Signal Boost: Barb Underhill, the woman who teaches the NHL how to skate

development camp-4_slide

Underhill working with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Photo from Tampa Bay Lightning.

** Cross posted on The Rabbit Hole.

The Pacific Standard recently wrote an article about NHL skating coach and consultant Barb Underhill.  I have been a hockey fan since I was six and I had never heard about this woman before.  After reading the article and watching a couple of YouTube clips I am inspired and want nothing more than for her to  add me to her list of pupils.  I don’t know how the world of sports has managed to keep Underhill such a well kept secret (perhaps its because NHL hockey remains a marginal sport in the US market?) but I think that proponents of women’s equality in sports should have her face plastered on every piece of marketing material possible!

Underhill, 51, is a former Canadian competitive pairs figure skater who skated in two Olympic Games and in 2009 was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.  After her competitive career ended she moved into television commentating but for the last eight years she has been back on the ice where she belongs teaching the best of the best how to be…even better!  While not a hockey player herself she has been surrounded by the game and really, it doesn’t matter whether or not she knows hockey because she knows skating.  As Underhill points out, figure skaters take private lessons for pretty much their entire skating careers but hockey is predominantly learned in a group setting and skating, oddly enough, skating is kind of learned incidentally.  So if you have done like I have and walked by the figure skaters practicing with your hockey bag on your shoulder shooting the toe picks a snide grin of superiority maybe next time it should be an inviting grin that will hopefully turn into a new friend and free skating coach! Read more of this post