Americanization of Canadian Hockey as a Major Sport
Hockey is another modern sport where fans in the crowds experience all the excitment and nerves on edge moments during each game. Ice hockey is played using sticks to push a rubber disk into a net guarded by a goalkeeper. Due to its speed and its frequent physical contact, ice hockey has become one of the exciting, fast paced and fluid team sports in the United States. Additionally, hockey fights are very entertaining and it is very interesting to see how violence has so much to do with this sport, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the outcome in hockey (Markovits, 10/25 lecture notes). The game and the rules were originally invented in Canada by a rugby player, Creighton and his friends who laid out the rules of hockey, and then, as a fundraiser held the first public game (Giddens). The game was later played in the United States as it became more popular. Due to the proximity of Canada geographically with United States, the culture between the two countries made it convenient to adopt the game in both countries. Even though it has foreign roots in Canada, it still has a wide admiration and participation in the United States and thus considered homegrown game in America.
Ice hockey has its inception in Canada. The modern game of hockey was conceived in the mid-1850´s in Canada. By 1880, many amateur clubs and leagues were organized. Since professionalism was strictly prohibited in Canada many players migrated to the US. The game was first played in the USA in 1893. It became popular and part of the American sport space as a foreign sport in terms of its origin and star players. Thus “hockey never claimed its origin in America” (Markovits, Andrei S., and Steven L. Hellerman, pg 91). Further, “Canada’s special relationship with America, makes all the difference as to why hockey entered the American sport space successfully and developed therein to become part of American sports culture” ( Markovits, Andrei S., and Steven L. Hellerman, pg 91). The nature of the game is violent. Violence of hockey had deep association in Canadian leagues, and many felt that hockey might be pacified by its introduction into the United States. Instead it found a welcoming home in the US (Markovits, 10/25 lecture notes). The culture of these two countries developed in such an entwined manner, that it bought a level of comfort and familiarity between these countries that it promoted automatic acceptance by the other.
The National Hockey League or NHL is the professional league for hockey. In “1910, NHA was founded which hugely modernized the sport” (Markovits, 10/25 lecture notes). “NHL represents the pinnacle of the sport in the eyes of American fans as well as hockey connoisseurs all over the world”(Offside Markovits, Andrei S., and Steven L. Hellerman, pg 160). Canadians have continued to make up most of the associations players in the US. Due to the sport encouragement and popularity, slowly more American players are now part of the league. Other players from around the world are part of the league too.With the inundation of players from different nations, the NHL is starting to resemble the United Nations on ice. The American, and European invasion is making hockey a global phenomenon and not simply Canada’s. The Stanley Cup, recognized for ice hockey superiority, was first awarded in 1893 and later became the trophy of the NHL. The trophy was commissioned in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup and is named after Lord Stanley of Preston (Markovits, 10/25 lecture notes). Unlike other major league sports trophies, a new trophy is not made every year. The cup attracts a large audience and a testament to the growing popularity in the US.
Hockey is one of the four significant games in North America, yet it still fights to get a comparable proportion of reputation that the other three big leagues like NFL, MLB, NBA have in the U.S (Murray). One reason is due to the significant expense involved to play this game and hence prompts difficulties in drawing youth and low income individuals to the game. Since the game needs ice and larger part of the United States has a short winters, it works against hockey gaining popularity amongst our nation’s youngsters. Further, the NHL experiences an absence of star control, not on the grounds that they don’t have star-level ability but since the association doesn’t work admirably at advancing these stars (Murray). Hockey is in a difficult spot as players wear protective caps and it tends to be hard to recognize who is who on the arena (Murray). While players like LeBron or Peyton Manning are stars of their league and easily recognizable by the public, this is not the case for Sidney Crosby, the youngest NHL captain who led the Pittsburgh Penguins to three Stanley Cup championships.
The Americanization of professional hockey appeared to be part of the broader trends that threatened the culture of Canada. During the 1920s, increasing invasion of US entertainment through mass media market was a matter of great concern. “Some saw the Americanization of hockey as the growing dominance of the US over Canadian economic and cultural life” (Gruneau, Richard S., and David Whitson, pg 100). This way the US started making a foothold in hockey not only domestically but outside as well. Hockey’s presence in America was more advanced in the 1920s. It successfully entered the sport space of many countries beyond the North American continent. Because of the game admiration and popularity, hockey is deemed as “home grown” even though it does have the burden of being seen as “foreign” due to its origins in Canada.
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