Curling was perhaps once the sport the least associated with discipline and athleticism, instead having a reputation for drinking and smoking, an ethos prizing conviviality over competition, and a structure enabling amateurs to compete at the highest levels. However, during the gold-medal-winning performance of Team Brad Jacobs, a group of muscular young Canadian men, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, the public and media began celebrating changes in the sport that were already well under way. As curling enters a new era of rationalized training, fitness, and professionalization, this paper draws on interviews with older male curlers in two mid-size Canadian cities, and Ratele’s work on tradition, to ask what has been lost. Participants often embraced curling’s new emphasis on physical fitness. However, they also worried about the diminishing traditions of sociability, sportsmanship, and accessibility within the sport.
Kristi A. Allain
The purpose of this article is to examine issues relating to desirable hockey masculinity and how they are played out within the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). My aim is to explore how the presentation/representation of hegemonic Canadian hockey masculinity within the CHL works to marginalize non-North American hockey players. I examine how gender is performed by the players, how the CHL as an institution supports dominant notions of gender, and how ideas about gender are taken up by the media. I draw from ten semistructured narrative interviews conducted with non-North American hockey players who competed in the CHL, as well as the scholarly literature, media representations and commentary on the game, supplemental interviews, and an examination of North American and international hockey policy.
Kristi A. Allain
The paper argues that the Canadian media’s representations of National Hockey League (NHL) player Alexander Ovechkin work to locate Canadian national identity through its contrasts with the hockey superstar. Even though the press celebrates Ovechkin as a challenge to Cold War understandings of Soviet hockey players as lacking passion and heart as well as physical play, they also present Ovechkin as a ‘dirty’ hockey player who is wild and out of control. By assessing reports from two Canadian national newspapers, the Globe and Mail and the National Post, from 2009 to 2012, and comparing these documents to reports on two Cold War hockey contests, the 1972 Summit Series and the 1987 World Junior Hockey Championships, this article demonstrates how the Canadian media’s paradoxical representations of Ovechkin break with and rearticulate Cold War understandings of Russian/Soviet athletes. Furthermore, when the press characterizes Ovechkin and other Russian hockey players as wild, unpredictable and out-of-control, they produce Canadian players as polite, disciplined and well-mannered. Through these opposing representations, the media helps to locate Canadian national hockey identity within a frame of appropriate masculine expression.