Sport, Nationalism, and Globalization: European and North American Perspectives
The Making of the 1976 Canada Cup: Power Plays, Hockey Diplomacy, and the Rise of Alan Eagleson
In 1976, amidst a period of détente in the Cold War, the Government of Canada officially hosted an inaugural open-play invitational ice hockey tournament. A detailed narration of these events, pieced together from archival sources, allows scholars to understand the negotiations to prepare the political terrain for the event, including efforts to secure the official endorsement of the International Ice Hockey Federation for a tournament sponsored by the Government of Canada in exchange for Canada’s return to international competition in 1977; the participation of various countries and their respective hockey governing bodies, especially the Soviet Union, in an international tournament featuring professional players; and an agreement with the North American professional hockey cartels, especially the National Hockey League, to allow star players to participate in the event. The success of the 1976 Canada Cup accelerated the commodification and commercialization of hockey both in North America and globally—a process that was increasingly driven by the interests and aspirations of the National Hockey League. At the center of this history is one increasingly powerful—and avaricious—character: Alan Eagleson.
Resisting the World-Class City: Community Opposition and the Politics of a Local Arena Development
While the public subsidy of major league sport franchises and associated urban development projects remains wildly popular in some constituencies, these expenditures have, increasingly, been met with organized resistance. This article examines the formation of Voices for Democracy (VFD)—a grassroots community group that opposed the use of public funds to build a CAD $606.5 million arena and entertainment district in Edmonton, Alberta. I begin by providing an analysis of VFD’s division of labor and the collective development of the group’s political claims and tactical repertoire to challenge a powerful growth coalition between 2011–2013. Next, I examine the unfavorable political opportunity structure that set decisive limits on what the group could challenge. The article concludes with a discussion of why VFD was unable to cultivate a more widespread coalition of support and, in turn, how the ‘boosterish’ coalition in Edmonton—a coalition that included the Edmonton Oilers, the downtown business community, the mayor and a majority of council, and senior civil servants—were able to contain opposition over the course of this divisive debate.
Globalization and the Construction of Local Particularities: A Case Study of the Winnipeg Jets
This study situates the narratives surrounding the value of the Winnipeg Jets and a new publicly funded arena within the context of the recent discussions on the cultural impact of globalization on local and national identities. In addition, interest groups and local power relations that were promoting or challenging specific narratives surrounding the value of the team and a new publicly funded arena are examined. The results indicate that specific interest groups actively constructed narratives that promoted the value of the Jets and a new arena to the global-local identity of Winnipeg and Canada’s national identity. Conversely, counter-narratives challenged the importance of the Jets to local and national identities, while not directly addressing the issue of global identity. These results reveal the interaction of global and local forces and the relative ability of individuals/groups to produce local narratives and particularities that both reinforce and challenge the processes of globalization.
The Politics of Canada’s Return to International Hockey in 1977: Hockey Diplomacy?
In 1977, the Canadian men’s national hockey team returned to international competition, marking the end of a controversial boycott launched in 1970 by Canadian ice hockey officials in protest of the International Ice Hockey Federation’s refusal to allow professionals to participate in international tournaments. However, Canada’s much-heralded presence at the 1977 World Championships in Vienna, Austria, was memorable for mostly the wrong reasons. The hastily assembled team of professionals finished fourth, out of medal contention, and engaged in repeated acts of brutality against its opponents. The team’s poor performance and unsportsmanlike conduct subsequently prompted Iona Campagnolo, the minister of state for Fitness and Amateur Sport, to commission a study on Canada’s role in international hockey. Drawing from archival diplomatic communications, this article explores the changing political and economic dynamics that shaped the series of negotiations and compromises that culminated in Canada’s return to international competition in 1977 and the fallout from its performance there. It argues that Canada’s return to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championships in 1977 with a team of professionals marked a pivotal moment in the history of international hockey, further propelling the sport into a new era of commodification and accentuating the decline of the traditional amateur ideal—developments that consolidated the power of the National Hockey League in international hockey and over the Canadian men’s national team.
The Mäori All Blacks and the Decentering of the White Subject: Hyperrace, Sport, and the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
Brendan Hokowhitu and Jay Scherer
In this article we examine a range of media discourses surrounding the continued existence of the Mäori All Blacks, a “racially” selected rugby side, and a specific public controversy that erupted in New Zealand over the selection of former All Black great Christian Cullen for the Mäori All Blacks in 2003. Having never played for the Mäori All Blacks or publicly identified as Mäori, Cullen claimed tangata whenua status via whakapapa (genealogical connection) to his Ngäi Tahu grandfather. We argue that Cullen’s selection emerged as a contentious issue because of the fragmentation that the inclusion of his “Whiteness” within the confines of “an Other” team (i.e., the Mäori All Blacks) brought to bear on traditional colonial binaries of race in the context of late capitalism. Finally, we locate the debates over Cullen’s selection and the continued existence of the Mäori All Blacks in relation to the current racialized political climate that has fueled a Right-wing reaction to the growing Mäori self-determination movement.
Living With War: Sport, Citizenship, and the Cultural Politics of Post-9/11 Canadian Identity
Jay Scherer and Jordan Koch
If sport scholars are going to contribute to a critical (inter)national dialogue that challenges “official versions” of a post-9/11 geo-political reality, there is a need to continue to move beyond the borders of the US, and examine how nationalistic sporting spectacles work to promote local military initiatives that are aligned with the imperatives of neoliberal empire. In this article we provide a critical reading of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s nationally-televised broadcast of a National Hockey League game, colloquially known as Tickets for Troops. We reveal how interest groups emphasized three interrelated narratives that worked to: 1) personalize the Canadian Forces and understandings of neoliberal citizenship, 2) articulate warfare/military training with men’s ice hockey in relation to various promotional mandates, and 3) optimistically promote the war in Afghanistan and the Conservative Party of Canada via storied national traditions and mythologies.
Producing Allblacks.com: Cultural Intermediaries and the Policing of Electronic Spaces of Sporting Consumption
Jay Scherer and Steven J. Jackson
Despite the rapid growth in new media technologies and interest from both sport organizations and corporations in interacting with premium consumers, very little research examines the cultural production and regulation of electronic sporting spaces of consumption. Drawing from interviews with the New Zealand Rugby Union’s (NZRU) cultural intermediaries, this article presents an investigation of the production of allblacks.com, the virtual home of the New Zealand All Blacks and the official website of the game’s governing body. Specifically, we employ a cultural-economic theoretical framework to illuminate the institutionalized codes of production and work routines of the rugby union’s cultural intermediaries who police and regulate what appears on the website to unashamedly promote an elective affinity that includes corporate sponsors, media organizations, players, and the NZRU.
Public Consultation and Stadium Developments: Coercion and the Polarization of Debate
Jay Scherer and Michael P. Sam
Despite growing calls from activists and sport scholars for public consultation over the expenditure of public funds for stadium developments, there remains a lack of empirical research that examines the politics of these practices. This study critically examines the power relations and tensions present in the public-consultation processes and debates over the use of public funds to renovate or rebuild Carisbrook stadium. Specifically, we engage the enabling and constraining institutional mechanisms that structured five public meetings, which emerged as discursive political spaces in the policy-making process. In doing so, we critically examine the discourses that were actively shaped by stadium proponents to fit the mandates of neoliberal growth and resisted by concerned citizens who opposed: (a) the use of public funds to renovate or rebuild the stadium, and (b) a consultation process driven by a public–private partnership of business, civic, and rugby interests that had perplexing consequences for democratic politics in local governance.
From Corporate Welfare to National Interest: Newspaper Analysis of the Public Subsidization of NHL Hockey Debate in Canada
Jay Scherer and Steven J. Jackson
Despite the historic and popular alignment of ice hockey with Canadian identity, the public subsidization of National Hockey League (NHL) franchises remains a highly contentious public issue in Canada. In January 2000 the Canadian government announced a proposal to subsidize Canadian-based NHL franchises. The proposal, however, received such a hostile national response that only three days after its release an embarrassed Liberal government was forced to rescind it. This article explores how Canadian anglophone newspapers mediated the NHL subsidy debate and emerged as critical sites through which several interrelated issues were contested: the subsidization of NHL franchises, competing discourses of Canadian national identity, and the broader political-economic and sociocultural impacts of the Canadian government’s adherence to a neoliberal agenda.