Prairie Post (West Edition)

Game Misconduct: Canadians may love their hockey, but they also see serious problems with its culture


Outdoor shinny on a winter afternoon, early mornings with cold coffee at the community rink and pick-up games in the neighbourh­ood cul-de-sac.

Few things are as prominentl­y Canadian as hockey.

In addition to the important place it holds in Canadian society, however, a new public opinion survey also finds a majority of those closest to the game – be they players, coaches or friends and family members of participan­ts – say hockey at the amateur and recreation­al level has culture problems.

Half of those who played say misogyny, racism, inclusion and bullying are problems.

Against the backdrop of news that Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen has been placed on leave following allegation­s of sexual misconduct, recent data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute reveals more than half of those who have played or coached youth hockey (56%) say they perceive the treatment of women and girls by young male hockey players as misogynist­ic or disrespect­ful.

This sentiment increases to 63 per cent among those who did not play but identify as having spent time around the game cheering on a close friend, family member, or partner.

Meantime, efforts by the NHL and grassroots organizati­ons to encourage diversity and promote the role of Black and Indigenous athletes in the game are seen as necessary by Canadians, half of whom say that hockey also has a problem with racism. Notably, the percentage saying there is a problem within the hockey community rises to 58 per cent among those who identify as a visible minority - nine points higher than Caucasian respondent­s (49%) and to that same level among those who have personal proximity to community hockey.

More Key Findings:

• 62 per cent of Canadians have at least one connection to youth hockey, be it playing themselves, someone close to them playing, or watching the game at the community level as a supporter.

• Nine-in-ten (93%) Canadians say hockey provides a sense of identity and community in this country, while 87 per cent say it teaches good qualities such as hard work and dedication.

• However, two-thirds of Canadians (64%) who coached or played youth hockey say the game culture has a problem with players bullying kids outside of the rink.

• While the NHL has stated that Hockey is for Everyone, 88 per cent of Canadians say that organized hockey is too expensive for lower-income people to play.

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