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Hockey and Canadian's Sense of Identity

The 19th Century ended with the Victorian Age reluctantly giving way to the 20th Century briefness of the Edwardian Era - with both characterized by "liberal democratic" tendencies that spoke of commerce and equality with an upper-class solemnity of purpose that belied its true meanings. Those meanings were two-fold: to find new markets to exploit in terms of commercial enterprise, and to maintain a more-or-less strict separation of the classes while giving lip-service to the concept of equality based upon ability.

What this meant for hockey in Canada is rather convoluted. Commercially, shaping the rough-house, popular versions of the game into professional and quasi-professional organizations afforded entrepreneurs a way to supply a popular, easy-to-acquire entertainment commodity to the working classes at a profit-making price. At the same time, the upper-classes could promote the game as a popular recreation by emphasizing the "level playing field" aspect of all competitive sports. It was an appeal that went straight to the heart of middle-class sentiment, echoing as it did their upper-class pretensions and belief in their own abilities to rise by merit.

But Eric Lindros is one of the few hockey players ever to understand that when the NHL does something for the good of the game it really means for the good of the owners (Cruise and Griffiths 356).

Over this backdrop of apparent contrivance must be painted the very real portrait of hockey - and a certain aspect of the Canadian character - that was also to develop at the time the sport was organized: that of the game where, indeed, skill and raw ability do matter. There are no birthrights in the playing of the sport, just as there is no commercial hold over the weather of Canada. In order to develop professional hockey as a popular sport, the businessmen who owned the teams needed players who actually could rise above the pack. As with film acting, where a Jew could...

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Hockey and Canadian's Sense of Identity. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:02, August 17, 2017, from
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