A (North American) Hockey Game Broke Out

January 3, 2007
Posted by Jay Livingston

File this one under Sport and Culture.

Over at Blue Monster, Dan Myers posts a photo he took of an American flag made of hockey sticks and pucks. It’s on the wall at the ESPN Zone in Chicago. Myers adds, “the irony of a hockey-themed American flag doesn’t escape me given that it is the most international of our major sports leagues.”

There's also the irony of the association of the American flag and a sport noted for its violence — slashing, high-sticking, and of course, fighting. European hockey, apparently, is a different game, cleaner and less violent. The experience of European players in the NHL provides a study in socialization and acculturation.

Chris Gee, a grad student, compared penalty time for North American (US, Canada) and European-born players and found that while European-born players in the NHL averaged 39 minutes in the box, the average for North Americans was 53 minutes. And Europeans accounted for only about 11% of the penalties for fighting.

Position might have something to do with it if Europeans are underrepresented among defensemen. But Gee thinks it’s cultural, and as they spend time in the NHL, the Europeans become socialized to North American ways. Europeans with three or more years experience were far more likely to get caught charging or high-sticking.
Fighting and aggression are revered in Canadian hockey, but in Europe it’s a very different story. But after Europeans arrive here they learn what’s successful and normal; they see the crowds rise to their feet during a fight and they become Americanized.
Gee’s research appeared last September in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise. I found a report via Lexis-Nexis in the Ottawa Citizen, Sept. 28, 2006.

1 comment:

Bad Runner said...

That sounds about right... I wonder how we'd do in a hockey game against Iraq?