nationalism

Members of Canadian Parliament wearing jerseys to honour the Humboldt Broncos. Photo from Toronto Star.

On April 6, 2018, the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) were travelling to a playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks on a rural highway when their bus collided with a semi-trailer truck. Sixteen people on board were killed and 13 were injured in the crash. Ten of the fatalities were Humboldt Broncos players.

What first drew me to this story was the overwhelming wave of emotion that it captured across Canada. The crash led to a nationwide outpouring of grief and mourning for the victims and their families. This included a social media campaign with the hashtag #putyoursticksout, where thousands of Canadians placed sticks outside the front doors of their homes and businesses to pay tribute to the memory of the fallen hockey players. What followed was an official “Jersey Day”, where Canadians donned a hockey jersey to show their support with the hashtag #jerseysforhumboldt. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an official statement on the tragedy, saying:

Our national hockey family is a close one, with roots in almost every town — small and big — across Canada. Humboldt is no exception, and today the country and the entire hockey community stands with you…. We are here for you. As neighbours, as friends, and as Canadians, we grieve alongside you.

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2017-2018 Humboldt Broncos. Photo from The Globe and Mail.

On April 6, 2018, a bus associated with the Humboldt Broncos Junior Hockey Team crashed in rural Saskatchewan, Canada, killing 16 people. The national and international response was astounding, including a $15 million GoFundMe campaign (the largest ever in Canada) along with another $1.5 million donated directly to the team over just 12 days. Between consistent features in sport media outlets, shout outs from the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, a Tim Horton’s donut controversy, and a large participatory movement of “putting your sticks out for the boys,” the tragedy was seemingly omnipresent.

Among the social media buzz, Québec-based writer and activist Nora Loreto commented in a twitter thread that the “maleness, the youthfulness and the whiteness of the victims are, of course, playing a significant role” in this uptake. Public response to her comments was swift and included over 5000 replies to her tweet, death threats, an attempted boycott, and multiple editorials. While not all of the reactions were negative, the public response to Loreto’s critique – which was almost as prompt and passionate as the philanthropy toward the players and families – offers us the opportunity to think through the ways in which power and politics play out in the Twittersphere and digital spaces more broadly. The attack on Loreto provided interesting points through which we can critically unpack ideas of nationalism, rurality, and the hockey community in the context of Canadian sport.

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Athletes from North and South Korea marched together during the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. (photo by Chang W. Lee/The New York Times)

Sport has important political power in contemporary culture. When North and South Korean athletes marched under a unified flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, it provided a powerful sign of cooperation between the two nations. Seeing the two Koreas marching together symbolized hope for reunification in the Korean peninsula. The 2018 Olympics, however, were only one chapter in a much longer story about the ways in which South Korea has invested substantial resources in attempts to foster a (global) Koreanness through success in sporting mega-events. In fact, cultural anthropologist Rachael Miyung Joo has argued that South Korea sees transnational sport as the most useful way to demonstrate the potential of a “global Korea.” Sport, in this respect, is used as a cultural apparatus to build a collective identity—what political scientist Benedict Anderson called an “imagined community.” Here, we aim to deconstruct South Korean sporting nationalism by analyzing how sport operates to establish and reinforce nationalism in South Korea.

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Photo from Deadspin. Taken by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

The recently knighted Scotsman and new world-number-one-ranked tennis player, Andy Murray, will be entering the Australian Open with his confidence sky-high, looking to start this year just as he ended the last. After defeating Novak Djokovic in the end-of-season ATP Tour final in November and, perhaps most crucially, in the process, finishing above him in the world rankings, this might represent Murray’s best chance of winning “down under” after eleven previous attempts. In the event’s history, Murray is one of the best players ever to have not won here, despite reaching five finals (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016). All except for 2010 when he lost to Roger Federer, Murray has been defeated by Djokovic. This year, for a change, Murray will enter the event as top-seed and favourite, which is a position he has tended to relish.

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