Deconstructing Hockey

Deconstructing Hockey
Ottawa Citizen: January 6, 2009
Morgan Duchesney

I think ice hockey is a fine activity and I spent many seasons in competitive play. However, it is not a religion and the NHL has slipped into a Romanesque “Bread and Circuses” spectacle more concerned with profit than sporting ethics. This devolution was inevitable because I believe, as Janice Kennedy does; that hockey has transcended mere sport to become a dominant social force.
While romanticizing the grand Canadian hockey metaphor, Ms. Kennedy dismisses Noam Chomksy on her way to minimizing the value of critiquing the power of professional sport. While lacking cocktail party “zing”, Chomsky’s thinking is exhaustively-researched, precise, eloquent, penetrating and focuses a critical laser on the hazards of concentrated economic and political power. Like anthropologist Joseph Campbell, his logic commits the social sin of exposing the hypocrisy of popular assumptions about politics and business. While Chomsky believes that the modern obsession with professional sports is,”training in irrational jingoism, “ Campbell has written extensively about the concept of hero worship in modern societies devoid of real heroes and leaders.
It is relatively easy to be erudite regarding sports statistics because such information is readily available and the internet, TV, radio, magazines and daily newspapers dedicate enormous resources to accondating the needs of sports fans. You don’t need to wait 30 years for Cabinet documents to be declassified or to file an Access to Information request to get the latest hockey statistics. It is not unreseasonable to conclude that many Canadians, frustrated with being locked out of effective political participation; are choosing membership in the welcoming arms of the professional sports fan sub-culture. It is a painless alternative to the challenging and often lonely habit of critical thinking.