Hockey Research at the 2017 North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) Conference

In keeping with our effort to highlight academic research on hockey, we are pleased to post details about presentations occurring at the the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) annual conference, taking place this week in Windsor, ON. The full 2017 book of abstracts can be viewed here, and you can see various Hockey in Society posts related to hockey research at academic conferences here.

This year, there is an abundance of hockey-related research papers being presented, including by Hockey in Society contributors Cheryl MacDonald, Doo Jae Park, and Matt Ventresca (I will also be there, but will not be presenting research related to hockey). In fact, Cheryl has organized no fewer than three sessions focused on hockey research. The papers are a mix of historical, sociological, and sport managerial approaches to researching hockey, and should collectively provide a fascinating array of insights into the sociocultural significance of the sport..

Please note that I am reproducing abstracts that are written by the author. I claim no ownership of this writing and fully acknowledge it to be the authors’ intellectual property. Abstracts are presented with Hockey in Society contributor first, and alphabetically thereafter.

#BeBoldForChange: Social Media Analysis of the US Women’s National Team Fight for Pay Equity

By: Erin Morris (SUNY Cortland), Cheryl MacDonald (University of Alberta), and Ann Pegoraro (Laurentian University)

Recently women have made significant gains in sport with more opportunities and recognition than ever before but professional female athletes still struggle to receive equal pay compared to male athletes. This was highlighted when the USA Women’s National Hockey Team (USWNT) announced a boycott of the world championships. USWNT players were receiving the equivalent of $1,500 per year with major disparities in the benefits they received compared to the Men’s National Team, in relation to flight and hotel accommodations and per diems. (Custance, 2017). The players stated they sought increased compensation, programming, and marketing/PR support (Ayala, 2017). The USWNT relied heavily on social media (SM) to publicize their fight for equal pay. Therefore, this study seeks to understand how individuals responded to the USWNT’s fight for equal pay and benefits by analyzing the response in SM. Specifically we examine how individuals used USA Hockey’s Facebook page to respond to the boycott and negotiations. Data were collected March 15 to 27 (n= 920 Comments) and analyzed to identify themes in SM users’ reframing (Nisbett, 2010) of the women’s negotiations and new contract. The results will contribute to understandings of the responses of SM users to issues around pay equity in sports.

Critical Discourse Analysis of Coach Murray’s Korean National Women’s Hockey Team

By: Doo Jae Park, Na Ri Shin, and Synthia Sydnor (all University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

The purpose of this study is to critically explore media discourses regarding the Olympic project in Korea around Sarah Murray, coach for the Korean women’s national ice hockey team. Korean Ice Hockey Association has been working on the Olympic project to optimize the opportunity of hosting the Olympics to win medals. The project involves recruiting coach Murray, the first female, foreign, and youngest coach, to lead the team successfully until the Olympics. Her coaching ability has been processed with the discourse surrounding the team constructed through the media. This study utilizes Fairclough’s (2006) critical discourse analysis and Hoberman’s (1984) concept of sporting nationalism to understand the intersection of race, gender, and sporting nationalism building upon the discourse of Western culture as mainstream. We focus on media reports on coach Murray from 2014 to 2017. Preliminary findings address that Korean media has emphasized her athletic success in the US to legitimize the recruitment. That her father was a NHL coach worked as a proof of her coaching ability and added the male hegemony existing in hockey culture. The produced discourse surpasses the Korean hierarchy of age and gender. The media also produced racialized discourse perpetuating the superiority of Western hockey culture.

The more things change: Debating hockey violence in a ‘concussion crisis’

By: Matt Ventresca (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Although the incidence of brain trauma in American football has undoubtedly received the most attention from journalists and scholars, the risk and effects of head injuries in ice hockey have also been subject to intense public scrutiny. Most strikingly, despite facing ongoing multi-million dollar lawsuits and criticism from researchers and politicians, the National Hockey League continues to openly dispute scientific evidence that links playing professional hockey to an increased risk of long-term brain damage. The league’s public denials have largely relied on the notion that current neuroscientific research has yet to definitively establish a cause-and-effect relationship between hockey-related collisions and neurological diseases such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how these debates shape, and are shaped by, traditional ideas about the naturalness and inevitability of hockey violence. I investigate how scientific notions of causation are mobilized by players, journalists, and fans to refute calls for more stringent officiating and the eradication of hockey’s violent code of vigilante justice. More specifically, I interrogate the oft-cited assertion that “hockey fights don’t cause concussions” and explore how fighting advocates employ discourses of science and health to justify acts of aggression and attempt to preserve the role of the hockey enforcer. Drawing on scientific research about brain injuries in both men’s and women’s hockey, as well as sociocultural research on gender and masculinities in hockey contexts, I propose a conception of hockey’s “risk culture” that goes beyond a search for causation and instead seeks to map the multiple material-semiotic relationships between hockey violence and brain trauma.

Age matters: Canadian hockey-style masculinity comes to curling

By: Kristi Allain (Saint Thomas University)

As Canadian baby boomers reach retirement age and the country becomes increasingly defined by its old(er) citizens, it is surprisingly rare to see the bodies of old(er) men on sports channels and in the newspapers’ sports sections. Men’s curlers have been a noteworthy exception to this trend. Men’s curling — with its focus on older men, hospitality, affability, and a lack of physical exertion — has always stood apart from men’s hockey — which often privileges aggressive and violent masculinity. However, since the Sochi Olympics, when the media heralded the curlers on Team Jacobs for bringing to curling a young, muscular style, a troubling shift has taken place. I argue that media representations of curling draw on both the language and values of Canadian hockey-style masculinity, showing how this results in the problematic erasure of curling’s once-unique form of Canadian sports masculinity. I discuss how curling and hockey connect to the Canadian consciousness and construct the nation as white and male. I then explain how curling’s privileging of non-athletic qualities such as sociability, makes it unique among Canadian sports. Thus, the emerging media discourse, which applies the norms of hockey masculinity to male curlers, demonstrates a complex social reordering of popular understandings of men who curl, and a “sweeping away” of an older, less aggressive masculinity.

Examining the Relationship Between the Relative Age Effect and Leadership Behaviours Among Competitive Male Ice Hockey Players

By: Laura Chittle, Sean Horton, and Jess C. Dixon (all University of Windsor)

Relative age effects (RAEs) are developmental advantages experienced by those born in the early months of the year relative to a cut-off date (Barnsley et al., 1985). Relatively older youth have been found to typically perform better (e.g., Cobley et al., 2009a) and receive significantly more leadership opportunities in school (Dhuey & Lipscomb, 2008), and are more likely to be selected for elite sporting teams (e.g., Cobley et al., 2009b). Previous research has found that recreational ice hockey players exhibit similar leadership behaviours irrespective of relative age differences (Chittle et al., 2015). The purpose of this project was to replicate this study within a competitive ice hockey setting (i.e., travel hockey) where a RAE is prominent. The results of this study indicate that competitive hockey players are not disadvantaged with respect to their leadership behaviours (as measured by the Leadership Scale for Sport; Chelladurai & Saleh, 1980) because of relative age. This session will highlight this positive outcome, which stands in stark contrast to the negative effects that are traditionally emphasized in the RAE literature. We will also discuss focus on how competitive hockey may be providing leadership opportunities to athletes, despite the systematic age bias among players.

Media Representation of NHL Stars, Masculinity, and Labour Politics

By: Marty Clark (Mount Royal University)

In this paper I examine the intersections of masculinity and labour politics in media representations of National Hockey League “stars.” I start with a discussion of my doctoral research on 1950s and 1960s print media representations of Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay. Howe was widely celebrated for his apparent willingness to play for the “love of the game and deferring to authority while Lindsay was constructed as a “troublemaker” for his attempt to form a player’s union. I argue that representations of Howe and Lindsay reproduced discourses of middle class manliness and amateurism that supported the league’s paternalistic and autocratic system of labour. I use my research on Howe and Lindsay to open up a discussion about Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid and what the media’s representation of current stars can tell us about shifts in the NHL’s governance of hockey labour and articulations of masculinity in contemporary times.

Rainbow Hockey Sticks: Professional Men’s Hockey and Settler Homonationalism

By: Judy Davidson (University of Alberta)

On January 24, 2016, members of the Edmonton Oilers National Hockey League team all had rainbow coloured taped hockey sticks during their Annual Skills Competition at Rexall Place. Local and international media heralded the event as the first time ‘pride’ tape had ever been used in professional men’s hockey. The multi-hued tape was meant to demonstrate support for LGBT youth, and provide important role modeling opportunities by professional hockey players for youth. Concurrently, a new state of the art arena and entertainment district was being built in the downtown core, primarily funded by the public purse, for the exclusive use of the Oilers Entertainment Group. This paper will explore both the visible and highly marketable effects of the pride tape campaign, how it contributes to an entrenched Edmonton Oilers hegemony in the city, and suggest some of the significant and constitutive elisions upon which this tape event rests. The paper explores the complex and layered connections of pride hockey tape, an NHL entertainment franchise, a prairie city’s public institutions, and the promotion of a queer creative class in Edmonton that continues to further sediment a particular form of settler homonationalism in the 21st century.

Rink Rage: Spectator Violence in Canadian Ice Hockey

By: Curtis Fogel, Kevin Mongeon and Daniel Sailofski (all Brock University)

This paper examines spectator violence in Canadian ice hockey. Legal and media files from 65 cases are analyzed to determine the prevalence and cause of spectator violence against players, coaches, referees, mascots, other spectators, and property. The analysis considers various contributing factors including alcohol consumption, over-identification as part of the team, over-conformity to the ethic of sport spectatorship, socio-economic status, social tolerance, and masculine identity maintenance. Finally, we identify the response of Canadian hockey organizations and legal officials and offer various prevention strategies.

Developmental Activities of Ontario Hockey League Players

By: William Garland, Jess Dixon, and Sean Horton (all University of Windsor)

Theoretical frameworks such as the Developmental Model for Sport Participation (DMSP) encourage multi-sport participation at a young age (Côté & Hancock, 2016), and many practitioners warn that early sport specialization may be associated with several negative physical and psychosocial consequences (Myer et al., 2015). Despite this advice, the lure of lucrative careers and other extrinsic rewards has caused young children to specialize in one sport at the expense of other activities at an alarming rate (Aspen Institute, 2016; Jayanthi, Pinkham, Dugas, Patrick, & LaBella, 2016). This presentation will describe the findings of ongoing research regarding the developmental histories of current and former Ontario Hockey League players. These hockey players completed quantitative retrospective interviews (Côté, Ericsson, & Law, 2005), detailing sport and recreational activities that they participated in during their youth before competing in one of the most high-profile developmental leagues in the world for professional hockey players. The hours accumulated in various types of activities will be compared to the DMSP, and evaluated to determine when these players specialized in hockey. Tracing the quantity and types of activities that these elite athletes engaged in during their childhood may help minor hockey players make informed decisions regarding their development while being pressured to specialize


By: Michael Giardina (Florida State University)

In June 2016, the National Hockey League awarded an expansion franchise to the city of Las Vegas to begin play for the 2017-2018 season at the new T-Mobile Arena right next to the Las Vegas Strip. In March 2017, the National Football League approved the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas for the 2019 season; the city also approved plans for a new $2 billion stadium. Much has been written about the contemporary state of stadium and arena financing, as well as the viability of Las Vegas (only the 40th largest media market in the United States) to support two professional sports franchises. In this presentation, however, I move in a different direction: drawing from Barad (2003, 2007), my primary concern here is in making visible the intra-active events that led to and informed this expansion/relocation phenomenon in Las Vegas. To this end, I draw on ethnographic empirical material, media reports, and public documents. More than just a series of linear events enacted by a progression of separate interests, industries, and sectors (i.e., leagues, teams, city, etc.), my concern is with the understanding the phenomenon itself, and how it comes into being — to matter — through specific intra-actions that reveal disjunctures and difference with respect to the liberal democratic state in the historical present.

Power of (College Sport): Collegiate Athletes and Social Justice Activism

By: Ryan Kafara, Jay Scherer, and Judy Davidson (all University of Alberta)

In 2016, a controversial publicly-financed, $613.7 million arena opened in downtown Edmonton, Alberta, to house the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Edmonton Oilers (Scherer, 2016). The arena was constructed to “revitalize” the poorest part of Edmonton’s inner city that is home to the majority of the city’s homeless population and innumerable social service agencies. The prospect of displacement was, however, given scant consideration by both the Edmonton Oilers and the City of Edmonton in their corporate-civic partnership of revalourizing land in the downtown core. In response to this revanchist growth agenda, and the creation of a diluted Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), in the fall of 2016, a group of activists, non-profit leaders, artists, union representatives, and scholars, established the Edmonton Community Benefits Coalition (ECBC) to resist and politicize these issues. Drawing from interviews with coalition members, this presentation has two aims. The first is to explore the background to the formation of the ECBC and how the group was democratically organized and structured. Next, we explore the collective development of the ECBC’s political claims and tactical repertoire of contention, especially in light of the group’s limited resources and a broader unfavourable political opportunity structure (Tarrow, 1994) associated with neoliberal urban governance.

Changing on the Fly: Radical Sports Journalism and Social Justice in Hockey

By: Aaron Lakoff (Concordia University)

This research-creation M.A. thesis involves engaging with an important emerging media creation trend that I would call “radical sports journalism”. Radical sports journalism investigates how political power is manifested and contested both through and around sports. The last year has witnessed widespread protests in sports to various forms of oppression, yet why have such protests not permeated the hockey world in North America? As a media practitioner, researcher, and hockey enthusiast, I am very interested in how sports journalism and broadcasting can be mobilized to create circumstances for a better world, both inside and outside the playing arenas. Much radical sports journalism has been focused on popular American sports, but very little has touched on hockey in Canada, our national sport. This research will involve interviews with athletes, sports scholars, and hockey commentators whose work looks at gender & sexuality, race and nationalism in hockey. I will examine how Canadian nationalist ideologies are deployed, reinforced and contested through hockey. The final product of this research-creation project will be a podcast series, with an accompanying written component, showcasing my interviews (interwoven with location and archival sounds), along with a companion text that elaborates the critical and conceptual components of the creative work. The impact of this research will be to demonstrate how alternative narratives in hockey can help us to reimagine the game not only as a site of ideological projection, but also as a force for empowering social groups that have been traditionally cast to the sidelines, rather than centre ice.

Troubling the Road to the NWHL and Professional Women’s Hockey

By: Stacey Leavitt and Carly Adams (both University of Lethbridge)

In recent decades, significant advances have been made at the grassroots and professional levels of girls’ and women’s hockey. Despite compelling narratives of progress, however, professional league organizers and athletes still face significant challenges, including access, legitimacy, and league sustainability. Building on Adams and Leavitt (2016), we draw on case studies of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), as well as the 2017 Team USA boycott and the 2015 (re)formation of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) to interrogate linear notions of progress. We use Jacqui Alexander’s (2006) concept of the palimpsest to rethink time as non-linear, troubling notions of “then and there” and “here and now” that are often invoked by progress narratives. We unpack how discourses surrounding the NWHL development are not new formulations, but rather reverberations of past attempts at forming women’s professional sporting leagues. In so doing, we hope to increase understanding of past league limitations, constraints, and even failures, to uncover possibilities for a successful professional women’s hockey league.

The Bashful Basher: Gordie Howe and Hockey Masculinity

By: Stacy Lorenz (University of Alberta) and Braeden McKenzie (University of Alberta/University of Toronto)

This case study examines cultural constructions of hockey and masculinity in postwar and contemporary North America through the lens of one of the game’s most prominent players, Gordie Howe. By combining skill and scoring ability with toughness, physicality, and a willingness to fight when necessary, Howe epitomized many qualities of the ideal hockey player over the course of his lengthy professional career. Using Canadian and American newspapers and magazines as the primary research base, this paper explores media representations of Gordie Howe in the context of (1) ideals of North American masculinity following the Second World War, especially the period from 1946 to 1965; and (2) widely accepted standards of hockey masculinity that remain central to hockey culture today, particularly the persistence of the game’s manly “code” and the expected masculine qualities of superstar players. During Howe’s rookie season in 1946-47, Detroit newspapers described him as “The Bashful Basher.” We argue that the combination of controlled violence and humble manliness suggested by this nickname perfectly captures Howe’s masculine legacy within the culture of hockey. By contributing to historical and sociological understandings of gender identities in hockey, this study provides a platform for the critical analysis of the deeply entrenched connections between violence and masculinity in the sport.

A socio-historical examination of major junior hockey in Canada

By: Jordyn Moussa and Julie Stevens (both Brock University)

While the proliferation of hockey literature during the past decade has generated a more diverse scope of scholarly commentary, major junior men’s hockey remains an under-researched topic. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the socio-historical development of Canadian major junior men’s hockey. The overview will first, generate a chronological account of key moments and transitions in major junior hockey in Canada, and second, critically review the influence of various forces upon the progression of this form of the game over time. As the most elite level of junior hockey in Canada, major junior hockey is a developmental path from amateur junior to professionally ranked hockey. Hence, the discussion will highlight how major junior hockey is structured in a manner that sets it apart from amateur and professional hockey but at the same time is subjected to ongoing and somewhat contesting pressures generated by the intersection of these two hockey systems. While major junior hockey demonstrates structural elements, such as practices, it is nested upon normative elements such as values. The social, economic, political, legal, and ethical forces that create, maintain, and disrupt these practices will be addressed.

Uneven Development: The Politics of the Edmonton Arena Community Benefits Agreement

By: Jay Scherer, Judy Davidson and Rylan Kafara (all University of Alberta)

In the fall of 2016, a controversial $CAD 613.7 million, publicly-funded arena and entertainment district opened in downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to house the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Edmonton Oilers (Scherer, 2016). As per the terms of the master agreement between the City of Edmonton and the Oilers, the NHL franchise will operate the city-owned arena and will accumulate all revenue from the facility for the next 35-years. However, the master agreement also specified the terms of a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) between the Edmonton Oilers and the City of Edmonton. Over the past two decades, CBAs have become standard elements of North American sport-related urban developments, especially as community groups have aspired to mitigate the uneven impacts of gentrification, as well as staking their own claims in the development of their neighbourhoods (deMause & Cagan, 2008; Janssen-Jensen & van der Veen, 2017; Saito & Truong, 2015). In this presentation, we provide an analysis of the Edmonton arena CBA, and the types of social and economic commitments that have been made by the Edmonton Oilers to residents of the downtown core – the poorest area of the city that is home to a significant homeless population, as well as innumerable social service agencies. Our analysis is drawn from municipal policy documents and interviews with stakeholders who were involved in the development of the CBA and the establishment of a Community Advisory Committee, whose membership included representatives from social services agencies, inner city community leagues, and organized labour amongst others.

“Russians Can’t Be Trusted,” and Other Myths That Sustain Canadian Hockey Culture

By: Tyler Shipley (Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning)

For an institution that is supposed to be at the heart of what Canada means, Canadian hockey culture can be remarkably fragile. In particular, the possibility that any other nation might produce equally dominant players poses what often feels like an existential threat to the figureheads of the Canadian hockey world. This has become increasingly evident in the discourse surrounding Russian-born players in the NHL, and reflects not just the insecurity of the Canadian hockey ego but also the increased tension between the leadership of the two countries. This is manifest in myriad ways, and my paper will select a few key examples to illustrate the dynamic. The dynastic Pittsburgh Penguins feature two generational stars in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and yet one is lauded beyond measure and the other is regarded with suspicion, even when the latter leads the entire NHL in playoff points (as he did this year, though Sidney Crosby was given the MVP award.) A less auspicious case involves the decision of Vancouver Canucks prospect Nikita Tryamkin to return to Russia to play in the KHL, a move that was met with shrill cries of “you can’t trust Russians” and actually reinforced a semi-formal policy within the club to avoid Russian players. This paper will explore these problems, arguing that this discourse “matters,” given the ideological power that hockey culture possesses, and the very real geopolitical confrontation brewing between Canada and Russia.

Assist or interference? The value of hockey in a cross-cultural Canadian context

By: Tavis Smith (University of Toronto)

In the Canadian context, hockey provides a compelling departure point for examinations of (de)colonization, reconciliation, and ostensible development practices. In order to advance the dialogue around hockey’s role in Canadian culture and cultural relations, a case study of an Ontario-based project, Hope through Hockey, is presented in the research. This program is examined from its loosely organized beginnings through to its current conceptualization as a relationship-builder between two communities – one remote First Nation, one suburban community in the Greater Toronto Area. Program stakeholder perceptions are considered through a social capital, relationship-building framework. The analysis identifies the general conditions and program-specific mechanisms that contribute to the relationship-building function of the program. The findings are expanded to consider the intrinsic and instrumental value(s) of hockey from a cross-cultural, relational perspective. The political, ethical, and cultural implications of both case and context are identified and suggested as departure points for future examinations of hockey in Canada.

Female Athlete Activism in a Social Media World: Using Twitter for Social Change

By: Noah Underwood and Judy Davidson (University of Alberta)

For decades, women’s sport has been marginalized, underfunded, and under covered across the globe, particularly in North America. Women from across the sporting spectrum have used all kinds of tactics to try and change the sporting culture, from competing with men under aliases, boycotting major tournaments, and filing legal complaints. This paper explores the tactics used by the United States Women’s National Hockey Team, as their threatened boycott of the 2017 Women’s World Hockey Championships led to an overhaul of the current structure of the United States Hockey (USAH) operations. The women used social media, specifically Twitter, as their main vehicle to drive their message to the public. This strategy proved to be extremely effective, as their message of unity, strength, and future growth was received very well by fans, professional sports leagues, and politicians alike. Their poignant, well-timed, and consistent social media messages were the driving force behind the swell of support, along with the solidarity of all female hockey players from across the USA. USAH had no choice but to overhaul their funding practices, and the women leveraged their situation to provide a comprehensive change that will affect players for generations.

Exploring Strengths and Hope in a Memorial Cup Hockey Team

By: Dan Upham (University of Windsor)

In this case-study, I explored the use of strengths and resources linked to “hope-in” a shared preferred future (Jacobs, 2005) within the Windsor Spitfires hockey club as they worked towards their participation as the host team of the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament. I conducted two sets of thirteen semi-structured interviews throughout the Windsor Spitfires organization. Interviews were conducted post-trade deadline and post-Memorial Cup. Participants were chosen from three categories: players and player support (7); staff (5); and management (2). Diverse strengths were identified by participants, as well as a variety of resources they drew upon and differing ways they acted as a resource for others; these were all position-specific. Two themes across all three categories of interviewees were leadership as a strength and the use of family as a resource. Participants discussed their ability to reframe and prioritize their short- and long-term individual goals with the team’s major short-term collective goal of winning the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup. Interviewees identified that their individual goals aligned with the team’s collective goals and pathways to achieve them. Most participants also expressed that achieving the team’s collective goals would subsequently contribute towards their long-term individual goals.

“We Want Him To Be Soft”: The Cruel Optimism of Imagining Queerness in the NHL”

By: Elise Vist (University of Waterloo)

In this paper, I describe the “real person fandom” (RPF) of slash (male/male fanfiction) about NHL players. Fans who share Hockey RPF have an ambivalent relationship to the league, which we negotiate queerly through disidentification. The NHL is homophobic, racist, and misogynistic (Pronger, Anderson, Valentine, Allain, Robidoux), so desire for queerness within it necessitates a relation of cruel optimism: our attachment to the object of desire is harmful, yet its loss would be unbearable (Berlant). In Hockey RPF we manage this relation through disidentification, creating what is not-yet-possible from within dominant structures (Muñoz). Sidney Crosby, Tyler Seguin, and PK Subban become fictional characters who represent a queer hockey masculinity: Crosby’s fraught masculinity (Allain) becomes gay and neurodivergent; Seguin’s homophobic spornosexuality (Simpson) becomes bisexual and vulnerable; Subban’s racialized masculinity (Dickerson) becomes queer and beautiful. Queerness in the NHL currently exists not in the here and now, but in the ambiguous future. For that reason, studies of hockey that examine LGBTQ athletes (Anderson) or the league’s relationship to LGBTQ fans (Davidson and Scherer, Mundy) are important, but do not capture the work of hoping for queerness. I argue that, for some fans, that work occurs in the space of Hockey RPF.

Growth and Challenges of a Sport Chaplaincy Program Hockey Ministries International: A Case Study

By: Scott Waltemyer (Texas A&M University)

There are many parachurch organizations and sport ministries programs associated with the Christian faith (e.g. Upward Sports, Athletes in Action, FCA, to name a few) (Coakley, 2015; Woods, 2011), created to both bring believers together, and to be an outreach ministry. One of these organizations, that has specifically used the sport of ice hockey as an outreach tool, is Hockey Ministries International (HMI). HMI has been providing chapel programs to college and professional hockey teams for decades. From working with a handful of teams in the 1970’s to over 300 teams across 42 leagues today (Hockey Ministries International, 2017), there have been challenges that have accompanied this growth. This study examines the challenges that the Hockey Ministries International (HMI) chaplaincy program has faced over its 40 years of growth, and also opportunities that have come along as a result of this growth.


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