A Feminist Analysis of Responses to Sports Violence: Media Coverage of the 1987 World Junior Hockey Championship

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Nancy ThebergeUniversity of Waterloo

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This paper analyzes media accounts of a dramatic and highly publicized incident of sport violence. In a game between the Canadian and Soviet teams at the 1987 World Junior Hockey Championship, a fight broke out that escalated into a brawl involving all members of both teams. After some 20 minutes of fighting, the game was declared over and both teams were suspended from the tournament. The analysis shows that newspaper accounts framed the incident primarily as a technical failing that could have been prevented if some individuals had acted responsibly. Interpretations that located the incident in the culture and organization of the sport assumed the status of secondary accounts. The dominance of the primary definition meant that a critique of the social basis of violence in sport never received a full airing. More significantly, the opportunity to initiate fundamental change in one of the cultural bases of hegemonic masculinity was lost.

This is a revised version of a paper presented in the session on “Feminist Analysis of Sports Violence” at the November 1988 meetings of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, Cincinnati.

Nancy Theberge is with the Departments of Kinesiology and Sociology at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1.

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