hockey

Press conference for Oilers YCP Night. Left to Right: Andrew Ference (former Edmonton Oiler and YCP Ambassador), Matt Hendricks (current Edmonton Oiler and YCP Ambassador), Kevin Lowe (Vice-Chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group), Cheryl Macdonald (U of A YCP postdoc in building inclusive sporting communities and Co-Chair of YCP western Canadian board), Kris Wells (Faculty Director of the U of A Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services and co-creator of Pride Tape).

The You Can Play Project (YCP) is an organization that promotes the inclusion of LGBTQ+ athletes in sport. It seeks to mitigate the possible negative aspects of locker room culture such as anti-gay attitudes and language. It was founded in 2012 by Patrick Burke, Glenn Whitman, and Brian Kitts following the death of Patrick’s brother, Brendan, who was an openly gay ice hockey player. The Burke family is well known in the hockey community since Patrick works in Player Safety for the National Hockey League (NHL) and his father, Brian, is currently the President of Hockey Operations for the Calgary Flames. The Burkes wanted to honour Brendan by advocating on his behalf for equality among athletes regardless of their gender or sexual identity. While most visible in hockey, YCP works with a range of sports and athletic organizations from high school to college and university to the amateur and professional ranks.

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Parminder Singh (left) and Harnarayan Singh (right). Photo from The Toronto Star.

My PhD research explores South Asian experiences in ice hockey. Why, you ask?

  1. Because the South Asian community in Canada has become some of the most devout and enthusiastic hockey fans you will find on this planet.
  2. We don’t talk about race in Canada; therefore, there is very little literature about what it is like to be a “visible minority” playing in Canada’s game (a game that remains pretty white-dominated).
  3. Lastly, because the Punjabi broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada has become a significant development for hockey culture and Canadian media more broadly.

Two years ago, I conducted a study via Twitter to try and see how people made sense of Hockey Night in Punjabi. It was a term paper that eventually made it’s way into the Sociology of Sport Journal. This was well before the “Bonino Bonino Bonino” call went viral during the 2016 NHL playoffs and before the broadcast moved from CBC online to OMNI television. This post is compiled from excerpts from the article in an attempt to translate some of the material for a popular audience. Please keep in mind that a lot has changed with the broadcast and it’s online presence since the study was first conducted.

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