I’m sitting here with my friend who is obsessed with Hockey, currently watching the Los Angeles Kings play the St. Louis Blues. I wont lie but I’m a little distressed because I am still, not too fond of the sport. About 5 minutes ago a scuffle erupted between two players immediately making us get up off of the couch and start yelling. For the first time, I was interested! I noticed that the referees were actually letting them go blow for blow, then stopping them after about a minute. Immediately after I asked him why they fight and why it is allowed which lead me to write up a piece on a couple stereotypes in the NHL. One being that professional hockey players love to fight, and two, not related to my introduction, that the majority of hockey players are white.

After doing some research, I found that their are about 25 to 30 players that consider themselves African-American out of an estimated 690 active players in the NHL. According to the NHL website (NHL.com), their are 30 teams in the league, and each team is allotted an active roster of 23 active players. That means that roughly 3.9% of NHL players are African American. We can come to the conclusion that yes, the majority of NHL are of Caucasian decent. My friend Daniel broke it down for me like this. Most NHL players are of Canadian decent or from the Northern United States. If they aren’t Canadian of American, the majority of the NHL population stems from Russia, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway which all hold a prevailing Caucasian population, and are known to have a very cold climate. In conclusion, the racial backdrop of NHL players reflect their demographics. The population of African-Americans in those European countries are even smaller than the population in the Canada and US. 

Go Time

Go Time

The other stereotype that has little less controversy is the stance that NHL players love to brawl. Being that we don’t personally know NHL players, we can’t really judge whether or not they play ice-hockey in search of a fight. Their are a couple things we do know which are that hockey is definitely a rough contact sport where players can check each other during the game. A check can be related to a tackle in American Football, but is merely just a very strong shoulder hit. Checking or bad-blood are two things that usually lead to fights in the NHL. Dan told me that fist fights in ice-hockey are an ingrained tradition of the sport. Not only that, but a majority of hockey fans go to live games in hopes of seeing a brawl. The rules are simple; two players can fight when the linesmen (referee’s) are too far from stopping them. One player initiates the fight by dropping their stick and gloves which is the cue for the rival doing the same. As they continuously punch each other, the referees circle them for about minute until they are on the floor and then broken up. The result is usually a time-out for the two of them in the penalty box.

We can’t really say that yes, NHL players love to fight, but we can conclude that when the gloves are dropped, it’s no hold bars.




Friend of mine: Dan Andreas

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One Response to 3.9%

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    Do you think that your explanation of why the sport is predominantly white is purely based on the regionalism of the sport? Might there also be other factors at work? If so, what might these be? I would suggest thinking more deeply about this question. And what are the other salient subject positions for this sport? What about gender (obvious, but worth mentioning), class, sexuality? On fighting, do you have any thoughts on what embedding fighting so strongly into the culture of hockey might do to its approachability for different groups of people (as players and spectators)? This seems to give the sport a very aggressive form of masculinity worth considering more deeply when thinking of the sport’s stereotypes.

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