An interview with Dr. Bruce Berglund, Editor of the Allrounder website and the New Books in Sports podcast

Dr. Bruce Berglund is a professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI and the Editor of the podcast/website New Books in Sports, which features interviews with authors about their recent sport books. Among the many interviewees are some people who may be familiar to hockey fans, such as Roy MacGregor and Todd Denault, as well as some academics who have at times published insightful commentary on hockey, such as Dr. Kevin Young (University of Calgary) and Dr. Mary Louise Adams (Queen’s University).

Dr. Berglund has recently launched a new venture: a sports website called the Allrounder. This website aims to bring together scholars to provide insight into and analysis of sport around the world [full disclosure: I will be an occasional contributor to the site]. He has assembled a diverse crew of writers with a variety of disciplinary, theoretical, and geographic foci. The Allrounder is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise initial operating costs to launch the site and pay its contributors.

After the jump, I have an interview with Dr. Berglund in which he explains the impetus behind New Books in Sports and the Allrounder, the present state of sports journalism and writing, and the significance of new media and the Internet for the production and dissemination of analysis about sport cultures around the world.

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Weekly Links: Bobby Orr’s New Book; Panthers Host LGBT Night; Research on Concussions in Hockey; Hockey Analytics; and more

Source: Sportsnet

Source: Sportsnet

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!

  • Hockey legend Bobby Orr recently spoke with Peters Mansbridge on The National  to discuss his thoughts on minor hockey and the methods of developing players. Orr also released a book entitled “Orr – My Story” this past week. A link to the full interview can be found here. [CBC News]
  • The Florida Panthers are partnering with the You Can Play Project to host LGBT hockey night this weekend. [Miami Herald]
  • Jeff Klein provides an excellent summary of the research discussed at a recent health conference regarding concussions in hockey. [New York Times] Read more of this post

Ice Hockey: A Slippery Roadmap for Peace

 

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”

The above quotation from the noted anti-apartheid former South African President Nelson Mandela is how we want to view sports. At a time when the “Road Map for Peace” has not yet been settled, this video showing former American President Bill Clinton’s lighthearted rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” with 40 Jewish and 40 Arab children is how we want to view the relationship among Israeli Jews, Arabs in Israel, the Palestinian territories, the rest of the Middle East, and the world. However, as much as my conflict-averse self yearns for perpetual peace, I also recognize that I am an outsider. As such, I cannot fully comprehend the complexity of this situation from people in these regions of instability. With that being said, I still hope to critically analyze the goals of “Neutral Zone: The Story of Hockey in Northern Israel,” a short 24-minute documentary by Michael Farber which recently aired on TSN.

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The Aftermath of the Canadian Hockey League Players’ Association (CHLPA)

Photo courtesy of http://www.chlpa.com

Now that the aftermath of the collapse of the Canadian Hockey League Player’s Association (CHLPA) has simmered, a period of sincere reflection is perhaps due. The CHLPA, whose mission was to represent all Canadian Hockey Players (CHL) players in a fair and equitable manner, disintegrated under pressure from the CHL. The organization vowed to provide unionized protection to over 1,400 hockey players across Canada, aged 15-20 years.

The greatest misstep of the organization was its association with Randy Gumbley, a former coach who was charged by Hockey Canada for committing fraud. Whether true or not, the allegations were enough to seize any momentum the CHLPA had gained. The Gumbley lawsuit is not black and white. After having organized a tournament in Europe during the 2004-2005 National Hockey League (NHL) lockout, things got messy and the tournament folded. Players paid substantial money to attend the tournament, and eventually a lawsuit unfolded. According to Gumbley, Hockey Canada is to blame and as you can imagine, going to war against the most powerful sport organization in Canada is not trivial. The story is interesting, yet extensive.

The CHL hired a private investigator to uncover the identities of the CHLPA founders, and once they realized it was a Gumbley project the organization hit a downwards spiral. Interestingly enough, although Randy Gumbley had little to do with the organization, and it was in fact Randy’s brother Glenn Gumbley who was the backbone, the CHL was successful in convincing media outlets all around the country that a fraudster was attempting to unionize and protect the hockey hopefuls of the CHL.

The saga of the Gumbley story is not over, and the end remains distant. The important thing though, to take from it all is that the information available to the public on the matter is not enough to make anything more than an opinion. With that said, there were many positive steps taken by the CHLPA in uncovering the realities occurring in regards to player treatment in the CHL.

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A Stipend or Restriction? Why CHL Players are Unable to Gain NCAA Eligibility

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Photo courtesy of unitedstatesofhockey.com

What changes need to occur to allow Canadian Hockey League (CHL) major junior players to be granted eligibility to play in US college system, the NCAA? The NCAA requests two alterations: 1) remove the stipend 2) remove the classification of “major” junior. The letter below received by the CHLPA from Natasha Oakes, Assistant Director of Academic and Membership Affairs of the NCAA, outlines the distinct barriers disallowing CHL players NCAA eligibility.

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I received this document from an inside source and was puzzled by the simplicity that would be involved in allowing CHL players to head down South. Then I began wondering what the ever so modest “stipend” CHL players receive is really for.

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Teaching a sociocultural course on hockey at the undergraduate level: Thoughts on course content and critically engaging students

Starting next week, I will be teaching a third year course to undergraduates in University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. The course is called “Hockey in Canadian Society” – and yes, I realize that the title is incredibly similar to the name of this blog! I am extremely excited, if a little nervous, about starting the course. I do not have nerves about public speaking or about the course preparation – I have been excited to teach this course for months and so have already spent quite a lot of time on its design – but rather whether I can successfully impart the complexities of hockey’s social construction in Canadian society to undergraduate students.

This post simply offers an overview of the course, my thoughts about engaging students critically with a sport many of them love, and presents a list of sources that students will read. I hope that it may provide a useful resource for other scholars teaching about hockey and more generally provide a useful list of some good academic and online sources about the sport. If you have any comments, feedback, or suggestions please let me know!

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“Our game”: What does it mean and who does it include?

Photo from the Society Pages.

It would seem that when the players take the summer off so too do the hockey bloggers.  Well, while everyone else has been glued to the Olympics I have been combing through hockey literature in preparation of grad school applications.  If you can’t watch hockey in the summer, reading about it is a close second. I have been going through Gruneau and Whitson’s book, Artificial Ice: Hockey, Commerce and Cultural Identity, and I would like to share some passages (specifically from Mary-Louise Adams’ chapter – The game of whose lives? Gender, race, and entitlement in Canada’s national game) that have made me reflect on the glorious game of hockey.  Thus, this post is less a commentary or an opinion and more of a sharing piece to give you something to think while pool-side, lying on the beach or heading to the rink (because summer doesn’t change the schedule for Canadians that much). Also, the surrounding Olympic fervour sets a nice background to think about our own national identity. *Apologies for not boxing the passages. WordPress has refused to cooperate so the passages are italicized.*

The men’s hockey victory in Salt Lake City made clear the place of hockey in popular versions of Canadian nationalism.  The victory also made clear the centrality of gender to national mythmaking.  Four days before the nation came to a standstill for the men’s final, members of the Canadian women’s hockey team had won their own gold medal match, also against the Americans.  Although the women’s victory was certainly seen to be sweet, it was celebrated in much the same way as victories in speed skating or skiing. It was not portrayed, as the men’s victory would be, as confirmation of the “hockeyness” of this country or as a boost to national morale. While the women’s win added to Canada’s gold medal tally, the men’s victory propped up the national psyche…

Simply put, so-called national sports afford men – in general, and certain men in particular – an opportunity to represent the nation in a way not open to women.  Sport helps to construct the different versions of citizenship available to men and women. Would national teams generate such frenzied patriotism if national teams had no men?  Could we ever imagine a game played primarily by women as this country’s (or any other’s) national game, as central to its national identity?…

Benedict Anderson says that nations are distinguished from one another by the stories they tell about themselves.  The homogenization of difference and other processes of exclusion are key to this national story-making and to the formation of national identities.  In the drive to construct a cohesive representation of the “imagined community,” not all stories are equal…

THOUGHT:  Let’s extend the “stories” outside of gender.  Who else is not represented by “Canada’s game”? Our aboriginal population, those with disabilities, persons of colour and anyone who isn’t 100% heterosexual is missing from “our game”.  So if it’s not my game like I have been told, whose game is it?  Can it be Canada’s game if it does not include everyone? Logically, not everyone can be included so do we base our “story” on nostalgia? Myth? Majority? Or maybe it’s just the ideal?

And while national stories do change over time, their taken-for-grantedness can make them appear very solid.  As Philip Corrigan writes, “In confirming our sense of what and how we are, [the taken for granted] allows us to forget how we might be different.”…

Anyone who has spent any time around rinks in this country could offer a range of similar examples of gendered practices around hockey.  In a discursive context in which hockey is already given pride of place, where the hockey that really counts is undeniably men’s hockey, everyday rink practices reinforce and represent a sense of male entitlement – even among young boys who are among the primary users of these facilities. Will more women getting out on the ice change this? I don’t think so, not until women’s hockey actually counts, until women can make claims not just on the material aspects of the game but on all its symbolic attachments too…

I thought this was a brilliant statement.  Since a large portion of the scholarship and activism for female participation in sport revolves around numbers, rules, and physiological differences, Adams touches on something that counts for so much more – cultural relevance. Women (among many others) have no part in Canada’s hockey mythology.  I’ve gotten used to not having a change room at the rink. I’ve gotten used to not getting the puck when playing co-ed.  But when you think of it apart from gender equality/equity you realize how large the divide really is. Numbers are easy to fix.  Adding change rooms are easy. Altering a national psyche to include people that were meant to be discriminated against – where do we begin?

I digress, and Adams moves on to write about the significance of shinny in our national identity:

Most discussion of sport and national identity tend to focus on issues related to national teams, Olympic medals, international competition. I certainly can’t say whether this is the case in other countries, but in Canada, “Our Game” means more than this. Not only is it supposed to make us smugly proud of our place – our superiority – in the world, it is supposed to run through our veins.  Hockey is, we are often told, part of who “we” are.  Shinny is supposed to be the source of that connection…

Shawna Richer writes:

On Mother Nature’s rinks, teams of four men were posed to play out the most Canadian of reveries…Arguably the most inherent part of our national landscape, pond hockey is the opportunity to play the game at its purest, most creative form.  Shinny is where the professionals began, where children have the best fun, where grown men feel like boys…This is Canada in a box, right here.

Nostalgia is a powerful means of keeping us from imagining how Canada might be different; it is part of the process of marginalizing women and people of colour, of limiting the stories we can tell about ourselves…it is a process invested with “timelessness, historylessness, and, by extension, racelessness…Shinny fits well into attempts to articulate an overarching, enduring Canadian culture that persists in the face of immigration and changing social relations of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

Do we really allow Canada to be put in a box as Richer writes? For a country as large and as diverse as our is, how can Canada be represented by one (and any) game of pond hockey?  If our image of shinny suddenly changes to include men and women of all ages, races, and abilities would that be Canada in a box? I might argue that BECAUSE our country is as large and diverse as it is, we force hockey to be the one thing that ties us together.  Surely, the only other common denominator for the majority of us is that we are immigrants, and that’s not nearly as fun to talk about over a beer.