Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

Don Cherry’s Nationalism: The Loss of Rationale Thought?

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In the book written by L.A. Wenner(2013), “Fallen Sports Hero’s, Media, and Celebrity Culture ” a chapter by Jay Scherer & Lisa McDermott delve into the cultural significance CBC’s Don Cherry holds in regards to Canadian Nationalism. The article begins by stating that through the television career of Don Cherry, he has demonstrated a unique binary that sets him up to be a polarizing figure. Specifically, the Hero-Villain phenomena, as you can see in this clip. The authors go on to note that through his persona and comments, he displays a form of cultural identity that a collective of the population state as being biased towards conservative views. The Authors highlight this stance through the lenses of: his relations to the French-Canadians, and his stance on the Canadian military. The Authors bring light to cherry’s views towards the Francophone community on many separate occasions including: his anti-Quebecois rhetoric in the belief that they are “whiners”, as well as his favors for English (both language and people). On the opposite end of the Cherry Spectra, his support for the troops counters his disdain for the francophone, as elaborated by the Authors. They go on to note the countless times Don has expressed in favor of pro -war mentality, including an infamous coach’s corner segment where he and Ron Maclean debated on the topic.

See here

The authors also highlight his express for supporting the efforts by the Unites States and how we as Canadians should be supporting them, as well as his interpretation of what being Canadian is; specifically, being a warrior nation. The Authors’ make a final note of significant importance on the complicity that the CBC is demonstrating by not taking appropriate action to Cherry’s remarks and displays and that they too are in deep fault for shaping ideals and an identity for Canada. Thus, the authors demonstrate that their is more to the color commentator then simply hockey, but a brand of nationalism that not everyone would identify with.

This Chapter does bring warranted concern to the table, in addressing topics that can have damaging effects within the sporting realm from Mr. Cherry: exclusion via race, conceptualization of what being a ‘Canadian’ is, and overt support of hegemonic masculinity. These views can have serious repercussions on the enrollment and retention of future hockey players, which is an even bigger concern now for the sport as noted in recent demographic data. Global News report

However, these viewpoints are essential for the betterment of the sport. Within the realms of Kinesiology, thought is structured to enhance inclusive aspects of sport and recreation, in a holistic perspective. This particular stream of thought by Don Cherry, often gets ignored from an educational perspective as it is essentially deemed outlandish given that it doesn’t fit our criteria.  So in engaging in a “cosmopolitanism” way of thinking (bringing contrasting ideas together and communicating them in a way to come to a consensus for the betterment of society), programs can define the structure on what their sport offers in an effort to adhere to what both sides mention or what identity they wish to bring forth. By engaging with various rationales and understanding stance, only then can sport and recreation develop for the better. In the sport of hockey a huge dilemma is the recruitment and retention of players (as noted from the global report above), some can argue that they may not enroll in the sport because it can be too aggressive and people like Don Cherry push forward a mentality of what hockey should be. On the other hand, some may argue that the culture of hockey has changed to much and has become a sport that has lost it’s significance (the game is too soft).So despite the flaws that the Authors make note of, we should be slow to dismiss the Don Cherry’s of the world as they create pivotal moments for opportunities to become better, especially in the context of developing and enhancing programs. For that is what the pursuit of education is all about.

Issue related to Sport & Recreation (& Kinesiology) is: Sport being used as a means to suffice needs beyond its intended purpose, specifically in terms of national Identity and Inclusivity. The Effect of contrasting perceptions and how Kinesiology must learn to adapt with these notions for the betterment of the sport.


Scherer J., & McDermott L. (2013). Don Cherry and the Cultural Politics of Rock’em    Sock’em Nationalism: Complicating The Hero-Villain Binary in Canada . In Wenner, L. A.  (Ed.), Fallen Sports Hero’s, Media, and Celebrity Culture (pp. 330-345). P. Lang

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