• John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

The Paradoxes of Canada’s National Sport

“He shoots! He scores!” It’s playoff time in the National Hockey League, and we Canadians alter our social lives accordingly. Nothing—even in this fragmented, segmented entertainment market—grabs and holds our attention like hockey.

And why shouldn’t it? It is the quintessential Canadian game. Right down to its Christianity.

(More about that last part later.)

Hockey began as a winter pursuit of lacrosse players—or so goes at least one account of the game. Lacrosse used to be our sole national sport, derived from the considerably more vigorous (that is to say, murderous) aboriginal original, and is still our national summertime sport.

(How it became the preserve nowadays of East Coast American prep schools and elite universities isn’t clear to me, but we’ll have to explore lacrosse another time.)

Hockey, however, is king—and none of that “ice hockey” stuff, thank-you. There is field hockey, yes, and there is (just) hockey.

The Canadian spirit is, indeed, on display in hockey.

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