Recreation and Sport Studies

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


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Critical analysis of the National Hockey League’s “Career Ending Disability Policy”

The National Hockey League’s Career Ending Disability Policy can be found in Article 23.3 of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement under “Insurance Coverages”. It outlines the risks of playing professional hockey, as understood by the players and owners alike; as the CBA is an amalgamation of the two parties’ ideals. The nature of the policy is scaled remuneration based on a player’s age (upon adherence to the precursor of a minimum of 41 games played in the NHL). 41 games played denotes half an NHL season, and if that threshold is not reached, the maximum payment is $500,000. The payout system can be seen in Table 1 as followed:

Player’s Age Benefit Amount (USD)
Under Age 31 $1,000,000*
Age 31 $840,000*
Age 32 $680,000*
Age 33 $520,000*
Age 34 $360,000
Age 35 and over $200,000

Table 1: National Hockey League, 2012, p. 149

The players’ union have too negotiated proper compensation for specific disabilities; these are outlined as followed in Table 2:

Type of Disability Benefit Amount (USD)
Loss of Brain Functions $5,000,000
Paralysis $5,000,000
Organ Failure $3,000,000
Diagnosis of Terminal Illness $3,000,000
Loss of a Limb $2,500,000
Loss of Two (2) Limbs $4,000,000
Loss of Sight in Both Eyes $4,000,000
Loss of Sight in One (1) Eye $2,000,000
Loss of Hearing or Speech $750,000
Loss of Hearing and Speech $1,000,000
Loss of one hand or one foot $750,000
Loss of both hands or both feet or one hand and one foot $1,000,000

Table 2: National Hockey League, 2012, p. 150

The policy itself serves as a reminder of the human element of professional sports and their respective athletes. Upon examination of the compensation tables, one can ascertain that athletes risk not just their bodies and livelihood when working, but the quality of their personal lives as well.

Observing these tables in a vacuum and comparing them to similar insurance-based compensation packages, one can ascertain adequate remuneration; this however involves desensitizing oneself to the employer/employee relationship that the layman understands far too well. In essence, the “celebritization” of professional athletes desensitizes the population to concepts like relocation (trades), firings (buy-outs/releases), and forced retirement (career-ending injuries).

In essence, the policy fails to properly compensate players who no longer have a means of income, and whose lives have been severely impaired. The reasons for such inadequacies are qualitative and are driven by societal norms.


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Mediated Nostalgia, Community and Nation: The CFL in Crisis and the Demise of the Ottawa Roughriders

This article by Nauright and White (2002) examines the position of the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Canada in the 1990’s, the popular media discourses surrounding the CFL and a nostalgic view of an idealized Canada, and the crisis of Canadian Identity as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) saw North America more integrated than ever. The 90’s were a troubling time for Canadian Identity as a number of issues arose throughout the decade. The long-term relationship between Canada and Quebec was unknown and many believed that secession was inevitable. The case could then be made that the rest of Canada would then be broken up, as the Maritime Provinces would then be separated from the rest of Canada. This alone put Canadian Identity into question-if Canada was not a nation from east to west than what was Canada?

Another blow was dealt to Canadian Identity as the continued southern expansion of the National Hockey League (NHL) saw 11 franchises join the NHL: San Jose, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Florida, Dallas, Phoenix, Colorado, Carolina, Nashville, and Atlanta. Only one of which was in a Canadian market and in the case of Phoenix and Colorado two Canadian franchises were sent south (Winnipeg and Quebec respectively). Hockey has been at the core of Canadian Identity for the greater part of the century and seemingly losing Hockey to the United States was very troublesome for Canada.

The CFL followed the lead of the NHL and began expanding south as Baltimore, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Shreveport, Memphis, Birmingham joined the CFL. The CFL commissioner had even gone as far as saying that “the league’s future was not in Canada, but through expansion in the United States”. Several of the Canadian CFL franchises were in financial trouble so it could have been argued that this was a wise move. However the American CFL franchises were even more troubled than the Canadian franchises, many of the teams only playing one season. One team that did have success were the Baltimore Stallions as they reached the Grey Cup in 1994 losing to the BC Lions, then made it back in 1995 defeating the Calgary Stampeders to become the first non-Canadian team to win the Grey Cup. The success of the Stallions caused a lot of insecurity among CFL fans in Canada. The CFL had always been a place where American influence was minimized, but now that the Grey Cup was in American territory that may come to an end. The Stallions were shortly after disbanded because of NFL relocation that sent the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore and renamed them the Ravens.

This then brings up the notion of nostalgia and how it is used within the sports media context. There is such a rich history of sport in Canada which can make it very easy to capitalize on consumer’s feelings and emotions. During the financially troubled 90’s most of the CFL teams leaned on nostalgia to keep the doors open. While the Roughriders were in crisis the media discussed the relation to the “glory days” of the franchise in the late 60’s and 70’s. What was always ignored was the earlier years of the team when they nearly had to shut-down operations. Nostalgia is still used today when sports franchises are in trouble or have not had much success. Particularly the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs have such a deep history that reliving the past becomes almost a weekly occurrence (especially when they are struggling on the ice). Nostalgia is so powerful because it takes away the pain of the present and allows us to remember the good aspects of the past without worrying about the troubles of the time.

Fast-forward 20 years and the CFL may be stronger than ever with a recent re-branding taking place. The NHL has continued to expand south, but Canada was able to regain the Winnipeg Jets and could have another franchise in Quebec or the Greater Toronto Area in the foreseeable future. To close I would like to leave you with the most difficult and thought provoking question that was raised in this paper: “what makes Canada Canadian?”

References:

Nauright, J., & White, P. (2002). Mediated Nostalgia, Community and Nation: The CFL in Crisis and the Demise of the Ottawa Roughriders. Sport History Review, 33, 121-137.

Additional articles:

http://www.cfhof.ca/grey-cup-winners/

https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-expansion-history/c-281005106


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Did The NHL Finally Get Marketing Right?

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When you think of New Year’s Day, you probably think, “Where’s the Advil?” to nurse your headache from the night before and hope no embarrassing photos of you make it to your Facebook timeline. However, since 2008, another sporting event “owns New Year Day” – The NHL Winter Classic. (Formentin, 2013)

Since the first Winter Classic was played on January 1st, 2008, the game has become a mega event along with the likes of the NFL Superbowl, “making the NHL less and less a poor cousin to the NFL, MLB, and the NBA.” (Ebner, 2013) In Melanie Formentin’s 2013 article, “The Great Outdoor Game: NHL Finally Gets Marketing Right”, she describes how the NHL turned the Winter Classic into a profitable and popular event with fans and sponsors alike, through tradition and nostalgia-based marketing.

From HBO sport documentaries leading up to the event; to maximizing co-branding efforts with sponsors; to even reviving the throwback sweaters; the advertising and marketing from the Winter Classic has shown success by tapping into “human values which play an important role in consumer behavior” with sports being “the greatest opportunities to tap into these emotions.” (Formentin, 2013)

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While Formentin’s article is very well organized and thoughtful, it could have been easily condensed, as it was often repetitive. With every new thought that was presented in the article, Formentin continually felt the need to point out that all advertising and marketing of the Winter Classic was based on tradition/nostalgia of playing the game of hockey outside which is the “root of the sport”, throughout the paper. (Formentin, 2013) This made it repetitive at time.

Another point of critique in Formentin’s article is that she doesn’t provide much numerical data to support the success of the NHL’s Winter Classic marketing strategy and, where she does show some data in the conclusion, it makes it seem like an afterthought. David Ebner’s, “Outdoor Games Key Cog in NHL Marketing Machine” 2013 article for The Globe and Mail, is a much better example of how to incorporate numerical info and statistics that reveal how much the event has grown. Two stats that really were surprising were that The Winter Classic pulled “in over 10 million in tickets, advertising, and merchandise” and the “half-dozen outdoor games is part of the reason next year’s salary cap is shooting up by around $6-million (U.S.) toward $71-million – and the games are a visible display of a league buoyed by a big-time new TV contract in Canada and strong exposure on NBC in the United States.” (Ebner, 2013) Adding additional numerical data throughout the book chapter, instead of just briefly mentioning it in a paragraph in the conclusion, would have heavily strengthened Formentin’s argument that the NHL finally did get marketing right. This leads to my final point.

Did the NHL finally get marketing right? What is the title based on? 2008 must not have been the first time the NHL thought about bringing the idea of the Winter Classic into fruition. There was not even any mention in the article of the Heritage Classic, the outdoor game that was played in 2003. Formentin’s article just showed good examples of what were current successes in the NHL marketing strategies. She never brought up any past failures, if there were any, and how they may have led to the growth and success of NHL’s current marketing strategy. Just from reading this article its unclear if the NHL did finally get marketing right? Maybe it was never ‘not right.’

While there are many critiques that can be presented on Formentin’s 2013 article, “The Great Outdoor Game: The NHL Finally Get Marketing Right”, the idea of tradition and nostalgia-based marketing making the event into a profitable and popular event with fans and sponsors alike,The is still something the NHL is using in the upcoming Chicago Blackhawks- Saint Louis Blues matchup this upcoming New Year’s Day. Gary Bettman has stated:

“With the Blues celebrating their 50th anniversary, the League celebrating its 100th and with Busch Stadium wrapping up its 10th year of service to the St. Louis community, there will be plenty of history to commemorate and lots of excitement to anticipate as the Blues and Blackhawks resume a rivalry that has provided so many fantastic memories.” (NHL Press Conference, 2016)

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References:

  1. Eber, D. (2013). Outdoor Games Key Cog in NHL Marking Machine. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/outdoor-games-key-cog-in-nhl-marketing-machine/article15862559/
  2. Formentin, M. (2013). The Great Outdoor Game: NHL Finally Gets Marketing Right. (3rd Edition). American History Through Sports: From Colonial Lacrosse to Extreme Sport. (Pp. 191-209) Santa Barbra, California; Praeger.
  3. NHL Press Conference. (2016) Blues-Blackhawks Rivalry Takes Centre Stage at the 2017 NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/blackhawks/news/blues-blackhawks-rivalry-takes-center-stage-at-2017-nhl-winter-classic-at-busch-stadium/c-890790
  4. Thompson, D. (2014). Which Sports Have The Whitest/ Richest/ Oldest Fans. Retrieved from theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/02/which-sports-have-the-whitest-richest-oldest-fans/283626


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ESPN ranks all 122 professional sport franchises in North America

These rankings combine fan opinions with an objective measure of how well teams turn dollars into wins.

Criteria were:

Affordability (11.3%): Price of tickets, parking and concessions

Coaching (3.2%): Strength of on-field leadership

Fan relations (25%): Courtesy by players, coaches and front office toward fans, plus how well a team uses technology to reach fans

Ownership (13.1%): Honesty; loyalty to core players and the local community

Players (14.6%): Effort on the field, likability off it

Stadium experience (9.8%): Quality of arena; fan-friendliness of environment; frequency of game-day promotions

Title track (4.6%): Championships won or expected within the lifetime of current fans

Bang for the buck (18.3%): Wins in the past two years per fan dollar, adjusted for league schedules

Spoiler alert:

Rated last (#122 of 122) was: 

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Debating the role of fighting in the NHL

Before our presentation (and being hockey players ourselves), we were both pro-fighting. However, in doing research and seeing how many people lives fighting effects on and off the ice, we are starting to rethink our view on fighting in the NHL. Some of the NHL players that are literally fighting for jobs have been battling health issues and struggling through their lives. Every athlete is a person longer than they are a player. Views on fighting in the NHL included pros and cons; however, at this time we believe the negatives are starting to outweigh the positives.

Some reasons for why fighting should be left in hockey is because it keeps people discipline, builds team chemistry, can change the momentum of the game and brings excitement to the game. If fighting were to be taken out of the game it can open the possibility of introducing more stick work into the game, which can potentially be more dangerous. You may also have guys try to hit the better players knowing that they will not have to pay the price for it. There are many ways to build trust and team chemistry; the argument can be raised that when a teammate sticks up for you on the ice and is willing to drop the gloves to defend you, it will build trust between the players. A fight can often change the momentum of a hockey game; a good fight can get the crowd excited and loud which can change the momentum of the game. It can also get the players pumped up; all around it can wake everyone up. Nice goals and big hits can bring the crowd to there feet, when you look at the crowd when I fight breaks out there are not to many people sitting down.

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What are the inequalities in professional men and women’s hockey league?

History of Women playing hockey

There is photographic evidence of women playing hockey in 1889, along side of men. Women at this time would playing with long wool skirts and would often hide the puck in their skirt as they skated down the ice.

Before World War II women’s and men’s leagues were almost equally distributed in leagues and participation. Women’s hockey was seen as equally popular to men’s hockey at this time. As WWII finished, women shifted back into a more domestic role. Before WWII there was over a dozen women’s leagues in Montreal; after the war there was only one.

There was limited growth in women’s hockey league in the 50’s and 60’s. In the 70’s. the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association allowed females to register for the first time. and US and Canadian colleges started to have female hockey teams.

It was athletes like Abigail Hoffman and many others that proved girls can play hockey just as well as boys. In 1986, body checking was banned from women’s hockey, and it was then that it became one a fast-growing sport, since it was seen as more feminine.

As women’s hockey grew in popularity, it still did not get added to the Olympics until 102 years after the modern Olympics began — in 1998.

Canada Women

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