Cultural Comparison: Canadian Ice Hockey vs. American Football, Part VII
Vincent A. @ ELC Research International
David Gordon-MacDonald, the proofreader of the articles, has given a quite interesting suggestion about the origin of Canadian ice hockey, as follows:
Ice hockey started on rinks made on village ponds and icy back yards. It was a community game but also a game played by people who considered themselves, in many cases, rough and ready frontiersmen. So, physicality was always a great part of the game. Hockey has always been a working man’s sport and did not have the early intervention from the educated classes that many other sports had. For instance, the British working man’s game, soccer football, had the first version of its current rules written down by a nobleman, as I recall. That kind of thing never happened in village sport of ice hockey.
It is thought that ice hockey started in Nova Scotia, the Scottish area of Canada in the 19th century as a version of Shinty, a Scottish Highland game with some similarities to field hockey, but played here on ice instead of grass. Shinty sticks are flat on each side and you can see how they could evolve into the modern hockey stick. However, even in Scotland, Shinty was a village game or a game played in communities of Highlanders who migrated to cities.
In fact, the game may have had similar origins to the Irish game of Hurling, as a Celtic warrior’s pastime. Games like Shinty in Scotland and Hurling in Ireland are related to stick-and-ball games used by the Celtic warrior class to keep themselves in shape without actual combat. In Ireland, there are traces of such games going back a couple of thousand years.
There has never been anything academic about either Shinty or ice hockey, unlike in the American collegiate athletics as discussed in this article. Canadian universities, today, have hockey programs, but it always seems like an imperfect fit.
Actually, the author had an experience of watching an ice hockey practice game by the rink, only once. The speed and the impact of the moving players and the puck shot by them, as well as the live sound of scraping off the ice surface, were so intense and powerful, which were totally different from those we could see or hear in the TV. I realize the reason why the ice hockey wins a great popularity in Canada.
But, for the very reason that the ice hockey is a quite attractive sport as such, it would be enjoyable even without a violence in the game. I would be happy if Canadian people realize this. Though the U.S.A. might not have had the model of ice hockey, since there is a good example of American football having been refined from a brutal sport wherein casualties occurred frequently to an advanced sport wherein the violence is well controlled, I believe the Canadian ice hockey had better pursue the modernization modeling after the football. It’s never too late.
Copyright ©2013-2018 Japanese Canadian Community Organization of Victoria
This article is a revision of the article entitled “In-Depth Cultural Comparison, No. 2: Comparing Canada and America; Ice Hockey vs. American Football” printed in Japonism Victoria, vol. 8 no.3, 2013 published by Japanese Canadian Community Organization of Victoria.