Hockey Research at the 2014 “Putting it on Ice” Conference

Starting tomorrow in London, ON, hockey researchers and academics will gather at Western University for the fourth Putting it on Ice Conference. This conference, which was last held in Halifax, NS in 2012, is exclusively focused on scholarship related to hockey, whether that be sociological, political, historical, media, literary or economic research. Not surprisingly, there are lots and lots of fascinating papers being presented this year that align with the interests and focus of this blog – and I am happy to say that I will be in attendance to hear them all. While I don’t have space to summarize every paper that will be on the program, after the jump I have copied and pasted the titles and abstracts of just some of the papers I am particularly interested in – but I am sure that many other papers will also catch my interest and stimulate my intellect! You can check out the full program here and the abstracts here.

Full disclosure: I am co-presenting a paper, with Tobias Stark from Linnaeus University in Sweden, which for the sake of interest I am including in the selection of abstracts below.

Read more of this post

Roundtable: Issues and Controveries at the Sochi Olympics

Roundtables are an occasional feature on Hockey in Society. Roundtables will present brief commentaries from Hockey in Society contributors on pressing or timely issues within hockey and its culture, with the aim of presenting a diverse range of critical viewpoints on the topic under discussion.

The Olympic Games are, despite the Olympic Movement’s laughable claims about the separation of sport and politics, highly political events. Sometimes this politicization is obvious (e.g. Berlin, 1936; Mexico City, 1968; Moscow, 1980; Los Angeles, 1984; etc.) and other times it is more subtle – but every Olympics is hosted, supported, and contested by various actors seeking diverse political aims.

This year’s Winter Olympics, currently ongoing in Sochi, Russia, is one of the more overtly politicized Games in recent memory. Among the controversial political issues surrounding these Games are Russia’s introduction of repressive anti-gay laws, the massive hosting costs of over $50 billion dollars and the related allegations of corruption, the security concerns over terrorist attacks, President Vladimir Putin’s use of the Games as an empire-building exercise, the culling of stray dogs from Sochi streets, and the exploitation of labour in the construction of venues. And this does not even touch upon the sports themselves, supposedly the raison d’être for the Olympic Games!

Given the many complex and controversial sociopolitical issues surrounding the Sochi Games – and given the prominence of hockey as a marquee event at the Winter Olympics, as well as a form of soft diplomacy by Putin’s regime – it is timely for Hockey in Society contributors to weigh in on a variety of hockey- and sport-related topics. After the jump, five contributors share their views on a diversity of topics: LGBTQ rights at the Sochi Games; the hockey-related political machinations of Putin and Canada’s Stephen Harper; Canada’s increasingly hypercompetitive emphasis on its Olympic medal haul; the Games as an opportunity for hockey to evolve; and the question of whether women’s hockey will remain on the Olympic program.

Read more of this post

Weekly Links: Stephen Harper’s New Book, Concussions in Junior Hockey, NHL Executive Salary, and More

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Source: CBC)

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Source: CBC)

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!

  • Congratulations to Team Canada for winning gold at the Four Nations sledge hockey tournament in Russia! All the best to the players as they get set for the Paralympic Winter Games in 2014! [CBC News]
  • The plans for a new arena for a new hockey arena continues to be an issue as the city of Detroit struggles. [Financial Post]
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s book A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs and the Rise of Professional Hockey is set to be released in early November. The book will delve into the history of the game with proceeds from the book going to the Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services (CFPFSS). [Newswire]
  • It was announced this week that Russian legend Pavel Bure will be heading up a new KHL franchise in Sochi after the Winter Games are completed. It will be interesting to see what other long-term projects stem from the Olympics. [Ria Novosti]
  • While concussions have received a great deal of awareness and scutiny at the NHL level, Chris Peters argues that much more needs to be done at the junior and college levels in order to protect players form long term injuries to the head. [United States of Hockey]

Read more of this post

You can have hockey or gay rights but not both (under the Harper Government)

Please note this article is cross-posted on The Rabbit Hole.

Stephen Harper. Photo from the Huffington Post.

While doing research on hockey and Canadian masculinity I read an article by Jay Scherer and Lisa McDermott, from the University of Alberta, titled “Playing promotional politics: Mythologizing hockey and manufacturing “ordinary” Canadians.”  In the article the authors argue that Canada’s conservative government has used our beloved sport of hockey to redefine Canadian citizenship and identity in order to achieve a particular brand of Canadianness.  They outline how the Conservative Party (CP) conjured up a strategy that

has endeavoured to soften Harper’s image as an uncharasmatic, right-win ideologue, making the [Prime Minister] more palatable to middle- and working-class Canadian voters.  While Harper has actively pursued an association with a range of popular sporting practices (e.g. curling, the Canadian Football League, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, etc.), hockey remains the key element in a promotional arsenal that has habitually marketed him as a passionate hockey fan, an avid and dedicated hockey historian, and an “ordinary” Canadian hockey dad, thereby obscuring his ideological leanings and the effects of the CP’s neoliberal agenda of Canadians. (p.111)

The notion of using sport to bolster nationalism is anything but new.  However, what I do take exception with is how the CP chose to substitute the legacy of Canada’s progressive gay rights movement with trivial hockey facts.

Perhaps the CP’s most conspicuous (and long-lasting) attempt to pin down and promote what it means to be an “ordinary” Canadian has transpired through its placement of the Liberal’s Citizenship and Immigration study guide used by immigrants in their preparations for taking their citizenship exams….”The land, the environment and healthcare, mainstays of Canada’s self-image through the past two decades, are largely ignored” (A1).  In assessing the new guide and the re-envisioned “Canadian” projected through it, the Canadian historian Margaret Conrad remarked “[i]t’s kind of a throwback to the 1950’s.  It’s a tough, manly country with military and sport heroes that are all men….Conrad’s observations point to not only the CP’s masculinized representation of Canada, but also to its continued strategic deployment of hockey as an apparatus through which to promote the party’s brand, its leader, and its policies, as well as a medium through which it attempts to forge dominant understandings of “ordinary” Canadian identity.

Such efforts clearly continue to be played out on the cultural terrain of values.  For example, in contrast to the new citizenship guide’s numerous references to hockey (13 in total), Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism ordered the removal of all references to gay rights in Canada from an earlier iteration of it, including its decriminalization in 1969, the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2005. (p.123)

I’m not sure how many Canadians were aware of this 2010 development, but probably not too many considering the CP government seems to prefer a clandestine form of governance.  Upon a cursory Google search of “Kenney removes LGBT from Canada immigration guide” a whopping two articles appear, one from the CBC and one from the Globe and Mail.  When challenged on his, or the CP’s, decision to remove Canada’s LGBT history from the immigration guide Kenney responded by saying that it had been overlooked and that “We can’t mention every legal decision, every policy of the government of Canada.”  Canadian gay-rights group Egale Canada met with Kenney to discuss the issue and were told that it would be updated in the next edition.  It’s now the end of 2012 and there are only 2 brief mentions of the word gay, but there is hockey to be learned!   Read more of this post

Weekly Links: Homophobia in hockey; Fallout from Cam Janssen comments; The politics and economics of hockey arenas

[Editor's Note: This post is two days late. Apologies that I was not able to get it posted on the weekend.]

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.

Hockey Links

  • Tyler Shipley published a great piece about homophobia in hockey in light of the criticism received by Brian Burke for his decision to march in Toronto’s Pride Parade rather than man the phones to make free agent signings on July 1. A great read. [Left Hook]
  • Meanwhile, Steve Dangle has a good interview with Patrick Burke about the You Can Play Project, which continues to gather momentum to fight homophobia in hockey. [Leafs Nation]
  • Cam Janssen of the New Jersey Devils unleashed some extremely sexist and homophobic comments on a radio show last week. He also stated that his role on the ice is to hurt players, to catch them with their heads down and injure them. Needless to say this sparked a huge amount of controversy. [SB Nation]
  • Not surprisingly, Janssen quickly apologized. While many people vilified Janssen for the comments, Patrick Burke reached out to him over the homophobic comments and appealed for people to forgive Janssen for the mistake. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Ellen Etchingham had a scathing critique of Janssen and one-dimensional goons, discussing his comments about injuring players and his very limited on-ice role with the Devils. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Ryan Lambert also weighed in on Janssen’s comments and role as an NHLer. [Puck Daddy]
  • I recently wrote about the construction of legacy in relation to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Ellen Etchingham has a great post in the same vein about Harvey Jackson, who starred for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1930s but who had off-ice issues (including alcoholism and domestic assault) that created a rift with Leafs’ owner Conn Smythe and kept him out of the Hall for many decades. An interesting discussion about what the Hall represents, what characteristics it should honour, and how it whitewashes the controversy that surrounds many hockey players and events. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Former USSR and Canada players are preparing for a friendly game that will be rematch of the 1972 Summit Series. The game, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Series, will take place in Moscow in September. While the article overdramatizes the impact of the Summit Series, it is notable politically as both Vladimir Putin and Stephen Harper will be part of the ceremonies. [Globe and Mail]
  • A new reality show will feature young Aboriginal men trying to earn a shot at advancing in hockey and performing before scouts. It will air on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network. [Ottawa Citizen, via Puck Daddy]
  • Ken Campbell argues that, while it has temporarily increased their local popularity, winning the Stanley Cup will not have a serious long-term impact on the Kings’ place in the Los Angeles sports market. [The Hockey News]
  • Lots of arena news last week. To start, Lighthouse Hockey has an update on the latest political wrangling over the fate of the Nassau Coliseum, home of the New York Islanders. [Lighthouse Hockey]
  • Meanwhile, could the Islanders move to the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY? [Puck Daddy]
  • David Ebner reports on David Katz’s attempts to get a downtown arena built for the Edmonton Oilers, and his veiled threat to move the team if the arena deal does not go through. A good read on the politics of sport venues. [Globe and Mail]
  • Another story about a Canadian NHL team’s arena: the Vancouver Canucks are planning to construct rental apartments adjacent to Rogers Arena in the city’s downtown. [Globe and Mail]
  • Also lots of labour news, as the NHL and NHLPA begin negotiations over a new CBA. Greg Wyshynski examines the hypocrisy of Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold, who three months ago was claiming that salaries were causing him to lose money on the team and who then approved the signing, for a combined $198 million, of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. [Puck Daddy]
  • Also on Puck Daddy, The Player – an anonymous NHL player/blogger – explains what the players’ issues are in the labour process. [Puck Daddy]
  • Interesting post about expansion in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), including new Women’s Hockey programs at Nipissing (North Bay, ON) and Ryerson (Toronto, ON) Universities and a new hockey program for both men and women at Laurentian University (Sudbury, ON). [Eh Game]

General Sport Links

  • Hockey in Society contributor Courtney Szto has a couple good pieces up on her blog, The Rabbit Hole. This one discusses Serena Williams and the myth of “colour-blindness” in sport. [The Rabbit Hole]
  • And this post discusses double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, who will be competing in the London Olympics this summer. A great discussion of how society constructs disability. [The Rabbit Hole]

Weekly Links: Stephen Harper’s hockey book nears completion; Trade deadline reaction; The tragedy of sexual abuse in hockey

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.

Hockey Links

  • If you haven’t done so, please check out the great posts by Matt Ventresca and E.M. Nolan this week.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been working on a hockey history book for some time. It is nearing completion and is expected to have a publisher confirmed next week. [The Star]
  • Speaking of world leaders and hockey: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin states that the Kontinental Hockey League will soon “become real, good, healthy competition for the NHL.” [Ria Novosti, via Puck Daddy]
  • And speaking of the KHL, HBO has criticized the Russian league as negligent in light of the 2011 plane crash that claimed the lives of the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team. [Puck Daddy]
  • Lot’s of interesting trade deadline reactions this week. Ellen Etchingham, like Matt, is  not a fan of the NHL trade deadline. This post is a great read. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Matt linked to this article in his post on the trade deadline, but if you missed it James Mirtle and Paul Wildie have excellent comments from NHLers David Steckel and Jason Arnott about the personal experience and impact of being traded. [Globe and Mail]
  • An anonymous player’s perspective on the deadline. [Puck Daddy]
  • Graham James was in court this week to face the charges of sexual abuse against him. Adam Proteau calls for the hockey community to honour the brave advocacy of victims like Theoren Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy by working to prevent future abuse from taking place. [The Hockey News]
  • Ken Dryden has a harrowing article about the consequences of doing nothing in light of sexual abuse in hockey, including some upsetting outcomes from the Maple Leaf Gardens sex scandal. [Globe and Mail]
  • A very insightful and critical look at the hockey programming run by sport-based humanitarian organization Right to Play in Northern Ontario Aboriginal communities. [Sport for Development]
  • An awkward moment in NHL social media history: a post on the Calgary Flames official Twitter feed, presumably intended to be sent from a personal account, insults the Edmonton Oilers’ re-signing of Ales Hemsky. The Flames organization quickly pulled the offending tweet, but was left with some egg on its face. [Puck Daddy; Backhand Shelf]

General Sport Links

  • This is a fantastic story. Joseph Williams, an NCAA football player for Virginia University, is taking part in a hunger strike in support of a Living Wage campaign by university employees. It is a rare moment of political consciousness and activism by an elite athlete. [Dr. Saturday]
  • NASCAR is arguably the most blatantly political (and partisan) of professional North American sports. One car at this weekend’s Daytona race will feature advertizing in support of Rick Santorum, who is running to be the Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. Mitt Romney, his major rival, will be at the race. [CBS News]

Weekly Links: Mainstream Media and Bloggers Tackle Mental Illness; Winter Classic Details; Ralph Nader Calls for NHL Fighting Ban

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.

Hockey Links

  • February 8 was Let’s Talk Day, an event organized to raise awareness and provide support for sufferers of mental illness. Kent Basky at Nucks Misconduct had a moving and personal post about about the issue. [Nucks Misconduct]
  • And Michael Landsberg, host of TSN’s show Off the Record, also spoke about his own battles with depression. [TSN]
  • If you read Ted Nolan’s post this week, you already know that although the next Winter Classic will be held in Ann Arbor, at Michigan University’s “Big House,” Detroit will host a variety of events at Comerica Park. Puck Daddy has the breakdown of these events, which include NCAA, OHL, and high school games. [Puck Daddy]
  • Meanwhile, the NHL is aiming to break an attendance record at the Big House: at least 115,000 tickets will be available for the game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. [Puck Daddy]
  • An interesting article about the ways in which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has used hockey as part of his political PR. [The Guardian]
  • Chris Lund discusses the fan movement to return an NHL team to Quebec City. Hard to imagine Gary Bettman being keen on reversing two 1990s-era franchise relocations. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Speaking of relocated franchises… A report suggests that Winnipeg’s love affair with the Jets will lower support for other cultural or artistic institutions in the city, including the CFL’s Blue Bombers. [Globe and Mail]
  • Boston Bruins players are not happy about it, but it appears that the NHL’s tougher stance on illegal plays has forced them to change their style of play. [SB Nation]
  • Tim Thomas continues to make public political statements – this time via his Facebook page – and then refuse to discuss them with the media. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Ken Campbell weighs in on this latest controversy, arguing that if Thomas passionately believes in his political stance then “he probably shouldn’t be afraid to discuss his views when someone puts a microphone into his face and asks for an explanation.” [The Hockey News]
  • Ralph Nader’s League of Fans, an organization that lobbies for changes in professional sport, published an open letter to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman calling for a ban on fighting. [League of Fans]
  • While I agree with Nader philosophically, Daniel Wegner raises good points about some problematic aspects of the letter – in particular, its conflation of fighting and concussions. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Minnesota, AKA The State of Hockey, is taking tough action on headshots in an effort to increase player safety at the high school level. [KARE 11]
  • 24 Women’s and 32 Men’s national teams have applied for qualification to the 2014 Winter Olympics. The list includes the usual suspects, as well as lesser-known hockey nations such as Spain, South Korea, and Hungary. [Puck Worlds]
  • I strongly believe that there is a fascinating research opportunity to trace how, as part of flows of globalization, hockey has spread to and taken root in different parts of the world. This article looks at some of the reasons behind the sport’s recent growth in the United Arab Emirates. [NHL.com]

General Sport Links

  • Hockey in Society blogger Courtney Szto looks at how sports fandom is a masculine realm, and the resultant social expectations placed upon female fans. [The Rabbit Hole]