Being a good sport is very VERY Canadian

I am not a huge sports fan.  Nor am I a hockey fan.  I but I did some work recently that made me appreciate the value of both from an anthropological perspective.

I figured I should get serious every now and again.  Here’s my first pass.

When thinking about how people watch sports, context is everything.

Sports spectatorship is far from a game. Rather, it is an essential part of life.
Sports represent a tie that binds, a reminder of our humanity and the possibilities of achievement that come with exercising our physical and mental muscles for the benefit of the collective. Watching sports binds us together, and reminds us of
life’s essential lessons about commitment, determination and the value of being
a team player.

And no matter how old we get or how many hits we take, they entertain us in a
way that is both exciting and empathetic…reminding us to love the game of life, promising that win or lose, we are in it together.

And Sports fans are far from blind followers. Rather, they are armchair experts of sorts who scrutinize the athletic, cultural and entertainment value of their choices and place great importance on the overarching ethos of the game. No two sports can replicate the value of another, thus providing a seemingly infinite nuanced category of engagement for philosophical spectators who take pride in their connections to the games they love.

Lets take a look at  Hockey in Canada:  The NHL  / Stanley cup offers a weekly routine guaranteed to please. The social outlet allows the young and young at heart to find comraderie in high-energy engagement. And the party doesn’t have to stop once the puck is off the ice, with a number of ways to flex social and intellectual muscles to keep fans connected to the game and to one another.  Social media, reality TV, and fantasy sports alone can make engagement with hockey through outlets like the NHL a nonstop lifestyle activity during Cup Season.

An that’s exactly what it’s like up there above the U.S. border.

Hockey is in many ways the lifeblood of Canada. It is a tie that binds and an experience that bonds. Watching hockey is like breathing, and the rich cultural tradition connects all Canadians to one another in a way that evokes pride in their national identity and facilitates bonding and tradition within their families.

That means that regardless of the fact that there are no Canadian teams competing for the most iconic trophy in sports this year, you will still find a devoted Canadian fan base glued to the game and engaged in media.

I should point out here that the The NHL does a solid job of providing Canadians with a a rich platform for engaging with their national past-time and promises deeper connections with like minded-humans and empathetic heroes through their vast media reach: from stat sites to HBO specials and beyond.

However, some recent work I have done shows that catching the media-attention of Canadian hockey fans is a hit or miss enterprise when it comes to marketing and brand reach (this is where my “day job” comes in).   But winning them over is easy if a brand can authentically connect to the spirit of Hockey that pervades the Canadian way of life. Presence is not enough to gain relevance in a sea of media. The story must connect in a meaningful way and empathize with the Canadian way of life that IS hockey.  Look at Molson Canadain, Tim Hortons, Visa and other sponsors who “get it”:

Tim Hortons:



The purpose of this work was to identify ways to exploit the cultural context of hockey for profit, but at the end of the day it taught me a lot about the value of professional sports and sport in general, beyond the physical necessity of it to the cultural imperative.

All in all I’m better off.  And I hope you are too for reading this blog today.  🙂

Categories: Anthropology, Canadian Culture, Consumer Culture, NHL Hockey, Sports, Stanley Cup, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Post navigation

One thought on “Being a good sport is very VERY Canadian

  1. Pingback: Context In Professional Sports is Everything: Especially for Marketers! | The Brand Sherpa's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at


femdom/adult writings

Punk Rock Anthropology

All things punk rock: music, news, and fashion.

ish ism

Love. Explore. Advocate. Rejoice. Note.

Adventures in Living Abroad


Abigail S. Holbrook, MSW, LCSW, LLC

Counseling and Consulting in Athens, Georgia


The only authority for all things beer...

Millennials at Work

Coming of Age for the Millennial Workforce


Personal, design, inspiration, interests.


Just another site




Being a popular kid isn't easy,you have to be cautious about every move of yours because you know that all eyes are on you.Not just the eyes that look up to you but also the eyes that love to see you in pain.You might have your own list of followers but with this list there exists the "popularity starved crowd" who wants to replace you.But when reality bites these morons and they're back to square one,hurt and angry with themselves they try to make you the victim of their moment of high adrenaline,just to make you suffer because you're better.They try to clean their head by ruining your perfect life.What's more is right then you realize that none of your "friends" are what they appear to be.You're broken,depressed .You feel the need to talk to someone of your own kind,someone who won't judge you and that's when you can find me at thepopularitébug,I promise to do anything and everything to help you out of your problem!Amen.

Working Self

Creating Meaningful Work with Rebecca Fraser-Thill


Often described as a blog, an online magazine, a journal. When examined further the description changes and it becomes a project, an objective, a mission. American Male is one simple thing. It is a collection of different thoughts and experiences so come share yours and be part of the narrative.

nydwracu niþgrim, nihtbealwa mæst

signals, signals everywhere / and not a thought to think


World travel and photography

entitled millennial

"any man can handle adversity; if you want to test his character, give him power"

%d bloggers like this: