Hockey Research at the 2018 North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) 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 Sport Management (NASSM) annual conference, taking place from June 5-9 in Halifax, NS. The full 2018 conference programme and 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 are hockey-related research papers being presented, which should collectively provide a fascinating array of insights into emergent issues within the sport.

Please note that I am reproducing portions of 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 (or portions) are presented alphabetically by first authors’ surname.

Legitimizing Intercollegiate Sport:
A Case Study into the Type of Legitimacy of Men’s U Sports Ice Hockey in Canada

By: Jonathon Edwards and Cameron Braes (both University of New Brunswick)

There are a number of organizations that exist within North America that are influential in impacting a male hockey player’s pathway to making it to a professional level of competition. … Of these organizations that impact a player’s pathway, Edwards and Washington (2015) identified that playing NCAA Division I or in the CHL were perceived as two equally legitimate pathways to playing professional hockey. The term legitimate is defined as “a generalized perception or assumption that the actions of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions” (Suchman, 1995, p. 574). Absent from the above pathway discussion, is a discussion around U Sports and its impact as a legitimate pathway to professional hockey career. As a result, the purpose of this study was to explore current and former men’s hockey player’s perceptions of U Sports as a means of gaining insight into how legitimacy of the league is managed as it pertains to a pathway to professional hockey. Previously, U Sports hockey has been viewed negatively amongst junior hockey players (aged 16 – 21). … Yet, between 2005 and 2016, there was 565 U Sports male hockey players that transitioned from intercollegiate to professional hockey, meaning that top male hockey players are attracted to play for universities. Suchman (1995) clarified this idea of perception by suggesting that legitimacy affects both how people act towards and interpret an organization. Therefore, the challenge U Sport’s male hockey faces is legitimacy management. Since U Sports men’s hockey is not a new league seeking to gain legitimacy, it will look to enhance its image as a legitimate pathway for hockey players.

The Development of the Ice Hockey Market in Beijing, China

By: Hongxin Li, John Nauright, and Calvin Nite (University of North Texas)

The most significant international expansion by the KHL was to add HC Kunlun Red Star in Beijing to the KHL in 2016-17. The experience of basketball in China after Yao Ming came to the NBA demonstrates the power of local grown talent to the Chinese market and to selling China internationally (Nauright, 2016). … China has grown from a base of virtually no [hockey] players five years ago to more 1,101 registered players in 2016 supported by a substantial and rapid increase in facilities with 154 indoor and 206 outdoor rinks (IIHF, 2016). After winning the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, China’s government pledged to get 300 million people to participate in cold weather sporting activities before 2022. One of the particular target areas of growth is in the ice hockey market. Since 2007, cities such as Beijing have realized the expansion of numerous hockey clubs and youth teams as a result of the HC Kunlun Red Star ice hockey club. However, this growth has not been without challenges. … As such, the purpose of this study was to investigate the development of the ice hockey within China. We drew from the various tenets of institutional theory, specifically institutional work, to understand how Chinese authorities and other relevant stakeholders have created, built, and sustained the emergent ice hockey market in this context. Specifically, our research was limited to understanding the development of hockey in the city of Beijing as it is the home of Red Star, the 2022 Winter Olympics, and a major target market for NHL one-off games. This inquiry was guided by the following research questions: what factors at various institutional levels influenced the development of the ice hockey market in Beijing? How did institutional leaders respond to challenges that threatened the markets development?

Skating in the Sun: Examining Identity Formation of
National Hockey League Fans in Sunbelt States

By: Brandon Mastromartino and James J. Zhang (both University of Georgia)

As the National Hockey League (NHL) has made concerted efforts in recent years to expand into the Sunbelt region of North America, its teams still face tremendous challenges to build up their fan bases. Adopting a qualitative research protocol, this study explored the phenomenon of NHL fandom formation in the Sunbelt region. Research findings revealed key patterns and trends that influenced individuals to become fans of NHL teams in this strategic region of growth. A model of fandom was developed based on the themes and assertions derived in the study, which suggested that the fan community would play a significant role in fan identity formation and be a major driving force of the league’s market penetration into new marketplaces. The findings offer practical implications for teams to build and expand their fan bases and also provide a foundation for future quantitative investigations.



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