#22 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Part Three: The Riots that Weren’t

One of the enduring mythologies about hockey in Canada is that the sport has a special kind of civility attached to it because of its association with this place. Conversations about violent fans and truly wretched hockey parents are invariably smothered with the usual “it’s worse elsewhere” dodge. And indeed, it’s not hard to find examples of misbehaving fans and drunken lunacy in the United States and the United Kingdom. But when a caker tries to claim that hockeymans don’t belong in the catalog of rampaging hooligans ask them if they remember what happened in Vancouver in 1994. And again in 2011. Or the events of Montreal in 1993. You see, cakers really hate losing the Hockeymans Magic Cup of Destiny, and they’re not afraid to show their displeasure by rioting.

Rioting in Canada is a topic that regularly suffers from erasure by way of historical revisionism. I mean, Canada doesn’t even like admitting to or remembering the the Winnipeg General Strike, wherein the RCMP cracked some skulls in the name of preserving oligarchy. And heaven forbid more than passing acknowledgement of the race riots that rocked Vancouver more than once. In the context of a non-culture capable of erasing important riots, mere nights of mayhem are perfectly mutable even as they happen around us to this day in hopes attaining caker nirvana – deep, soul-crushing national boredom.

(s) Tee-hee Canada is so boring and staid!

The problem is that despite problems at all levels of hockey from minor-league games with Timmy the Hockey Squire to NHL profesional hockeymans cakers love defending The Game. Coast-to-coast, top-to-bottom, commentary about hockey’s ability to incite violent reactions from fans disappears because in the caker consciousness because cakers are practically programmed to believe that hockeymans could never be the source of anything bad. Hockeymans pundit Bob McKenzie declared the riots to be the product of “left wing loons“; even leftist media loudly protests the innocence of “real fans”, blaming instead drunks who were looking for a fight. But here’s the thing – hockeymans have a drinking culture that encourages exactly this kind of behavior. The whole culture of hockeymans is geared to produce riots – squashing drinking culture into confined spaces with unprepared police officers and a lot of tension is a recipe for disaster.

Violence among hockeymans fans is a subject of endless caker navel-gazing as Canadians try to navigate their consumptive nationalism through a minefield of obvious consequences. No small part of the problem is however cultural, a byproduct of hockeyman machismo that is in turn intimately connected to the Canadian consciousness. When you have antique skinracks like Don Cherry lamenting the “loss of machismo” in the game you are implicitly suggesting that knuckle-dragging violence is a part of hockey as a whole. When beer companies regularly run ads expressly encouraging drinking as a part of hockey you are encouraging the conditions that lead to riots. And when you aren’t really prepared for the task at hand (including actively ignoring the lessons from the last time this happened) you make an already-bad problem worse.

Sports can lead to violence. This is true throughour the Western world. Managing those riotous impulses requires shifts in culture, training, and an ability to honestly evaluate the role of sport in society. Obviously in Canada none of these are possible because it would require caker oligarchs to find another advertising vehicle for shitty beer and a bevy of other cut-corner caker products and a type of societal honesty that has no place in an ersatz collection of semi-literate knobs. In the face of profits and feels honesty and the kind of self-reflection that would help to eliminate Canada’s predisposition towards burning things whenever Canada’s hockeymans lose to AmeriKKKa’s empire of evil hockeymans has no chance to take root.

The sport has no reason to address the glaring social problems cultivated by the cultural mores Canada associated with hockey, so why bother? Cakers will forget about it anyways.


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