Canada, U.S, and the Love For the Game

       January 14, 2009 4:12pm EST.


By Melissa Hashemian


The game of hockey is a sacred one.

While some call it a game, or merely an enjoyable past-time, I see it as so much more. It's a talent, pursued by passion and perseverance, and for most Canadians it's essentially known as religion.

The sport holds a prominent part of Canada's history, and still continues to flourish today. Hockey can be found practically everywhere, from radio shows, to television stations, and in newspapers across the country.

It's pretty evident that hockey is an integral part of Canada's identity by just the amount of marketing and financing there is done for it. Even though it is the most notorious sport played in Canada, it isn't the only place where it's appreciated.

There is a huge hockey franchise built in the United States alone, and though it's not as conspicuous there, it's still an affluent business.

Nevertheless, with this being said, it is still safe to say that hockey remains as a more accepted sport in Canada compared to the United States; is a euphoric drug for Canadians.

There are various theories one may have to explain why hockey is more significant in Canada than the United States. However, aside from theories there are facts, which is exactly what the information aforementioned is compiled of.

To further aid in this discussion, I took the liberty of asking a few Canadians and Americans what they thought regarding the matter as well.

First of all, as a base, hockey was bred into generations of Canadians through geography. Canadian's would naturally play it because of the cold winters, but the country's history is what counts the most.

Canada is still a fairly new country when it comes to civilization. It was a country full of settlers, who had to fight hard in order to survive and get by. This was especially true back in the day, where the conditions of an individual's location effected them much more than they do now, with electricity for example.

Thus, any way you look at it, the skills that are necessary to enjoy and play hockey were ingrained into the DNA of many Canadians, right from the moment Canada became a civilized country. Passion and fortitude are two of the key skills, to not only play the game, but enjoy watching it as well.

The States nonetheless, had a much warmer climate which fundamentally made it easier to survive as a country. Plus they were a bigger colony when they came to this side of the world.

Clearly Canadians were better suited for the game.

However, what justifies the fact that it's more popular here, as opposed to in the States?

Peter from Ann Arbor, Michigan had his own thoughts regarding the matter. "Asking why hockey is more popular in Canada than the States, is like asking why soccer is more popular in Europe than the rest of the world. It's the culture behind it".

Hockey isn't very appealing in a lot of parts of the States, like Florida, Tampa Bay, and Los Angeles. Nevertheless, how does one explain its popularity in cities like Detroit or New York, who are two of the original six teams?

Moreover, how does hockey lose momentum in Boston, another original six organization?

It's pretty contradicting, with the game being enjoyed more in some States than others. There is all reasoning for this controversy however. Obviously it was popular in Boston at one point, but a lot of things have changed over the years.

Cities like Detroit fail to possess any other "really good" sports teams, that a city like Boston may be able to provide for it's public.

Eric from Boston comments, "Hockey is popular in Detroit for example, because they have a good team, that's why it's appealing in some parts in the States compared to others".  He continued by saying, "The better you are at a sport, the more people watch it. In the States they just watch it 'cause they have more teams (than Canada), more hockey teams, and more basketball teams".

In contrast, Boston exemplifies a city that owns a lot of other sports teams, which have fundamentally become American staples in the sporting world. Boston has a baseball, basketball, and football team that dominate the game of hockey as a whole.

There's a lot of pressure on the Boston Bruins to rise up to the success of other major league sports the city possesses. The Celtics, Red Sox, and Patriots all have had well-defined years. Just goes to show, a city cannot possess all that it desires sometimes.

Sean from Toronto adds, "hockey's probably more exciting to watch in Canada because we own it, but I also think it could be really significant there (U.S). It just gets overshadowed by baseball and football. They probably don't focus on it much because they're not the best at it, but take into consideration the fact that the U.S has a lot more people than Canada does. So, it might have more (hockey) fans, but more Canadian's enjoy it in general".

Many Americans watch sports that are easy to follow, and while most of these sports have short bursts of action, they are also followed by huge breaks.

Basketball, for example, is a slow game, and although it's constantly moving, it's still basic and slow. Plus, you can witness all the players at the same time, for most of the television broadcast.

A hockey game on the other hand, is regularly moving and there's so much going on. If you aren't born to love the game, or follow it closely, you will never be good at watching and/or playing it.

The same thing could be said about football. The game could never take off in Canada because it doesn't get any ratings, yet they still have their own league. Football to Americans is like hockey to Canadians, both are viewed as religion to a lot of people.

Additionally, some hockey games are barely televised in the United States. This is a bit shocking for a sports-driven country, yet not completely incredulous. A good example of this was during the Stanley Cup run that took place between the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes back in 2006.

When discussing the skills of his opponents, Carolina netminder Cam Ward had nothing to work with. He told journalists it was very difficult to watch his competition on television due to it never being on, thus he wasn't given the chance to watch the other team (Oilers) play.

Canada however, gives you every opportunity not to miss the game. Since it's extremely commercialized through commercials and sitcoms, it's hard to really ignore hockey's presence.

The game is a tradition Canadian's have followed for many years, and it's quite unlikely for people to stop now. It has, and will, continue to remain one of Canada's most renowned contributions to the world, and there's really nothing the States can do to compare.