In a country where violence is looked down upon and peace is the emotion they abide by, it would seem rather ironical considering that ice hockey is known to be their national sport.
Ice hockey is considered to be one of the most vigorous form of sports, since it involves man to man involvement, and fighting throughout the game.
This sport involves fast movements across the ice ground, with two teams on skates. Players use sticks with the objective of shooting a rubber puck (a flattened round rubber disc) into the opponent’s goal area or the net.
The top arenas attract as much crowds as the local and community rinks do. The frozen lakes of Canada are dominated by ice hockey players from every community who join in, in this game contributing to the large mass of people who are die hard followers of this sport.
The Canadians are so deeply involved in the sport that people of all age levels are into it, from toddlers to adults. They are involved in a way that each person tries to acquire knowledge regarding the sport or plays it. It is very often found that participants of all age groups walk into the National Hockey League (NHL) to either cheer their favorites on or play the game themselves!
The country is overwhelmingly involved in the events related to the game so much as they have they have a curriculum that gives a detailed course is— “Hockey in Canadian Literature”, offered by the university of Saskatchewan. Canadians are bound to this sport to the core, to the point that the logo of Canada, that Is the maple leaf is printed on every hockey t-shirt one can see.
Originated and brought into the picture by a Canadian, J.G.A Creighton in the year 1875, the first game ever to take place under the guidelines that Creighton had put forth was in Montreal. What previously was a male dominated sport, is slowly evolving into a sport that is played by both men and women. The national sport, has been hailed so much so that in the winter Olympics of 2002, an aggregate population of 8 million Canadians witnessed both the women’s and men’s team snatch the gold medal in their respective events.
In the early years of its introduction, ice hockey was only played on solid ice patches before it reached the larger grounds and rinks.
In the year of 1879, the first team in the history of ice hockey, McGill University Hockey came into being. With the simple set of rules, the sport didn’t take a lot of time to sow its seeds all across Canada, slowly and steadily creating a daunting existence in the country. The first ever world championship to be held, was held in the year 1833, however participation was minimal, only teams from Eastern Canada participated in the games.
In the year 1886, the first Amateur Hockey Association of Canada was formed that consisted of representatives from Quebec City, Montreal and Ottawa.
The year 1893 marked the first ever Stanley Cup attracting 5000 people, after Governor General Lord Stanley donated a trophy in the same year.
The sport slowly and steadily gained momentum before spreading to American universities and later dominating the other nations starting Vienna then Belgium and slowly creeping into France and Great Britain too.
In 2004, in a poll to determine 10 of the greatest Canadians of all time, two hockey players were mentioned amongst them— Wayne Gretzky and Don Cherry. From merchandize to their currency, ice hockey’s presence reflects the presence of ice hockey as a national sport through and through.
Just like football radiates in the hearts and souls of Europeans, ice hockey makes its presence felt through its fans. They are strongly connected to the sport and believe that Canada might actually be defined by the sport. To understand how much the sport influences, one can browse through several books and see how much this sport has revolutionized the country’s economy and culture. Books like Jim Prime’s How Hockey Explains Canada: The Sport that Defines a country, explains how much of an influence the sport has been on people.
This vast mass of land divided by different cultures, ethnicities is unified by ice hockey. They bring forth every person and is seen as a sport that showcases their unity and how much they respect each other and also how much they appreciate sportsmanship.
One might feel that in 150 years of Canada, the craze for the sport might have lessened or at least would have ceased to be sought after in such a huge capacity. With soaring viewership in the nation it is hard to comprehend how this raving mad crowd could ever fall for any other sport.
However, in the course of time it was expected with less people participating in the sport there might have been a deterioration of how people see the sport, but in a recent report almost a million Canadians, persistently claimed that the love for the sport and the active participation it sees will never lessen in magnitude.
Ice Hockey triumphs in the hearts of millennials and the youngsters as much as it did a couple of years back.
Now the sport is dominating most of the countries. One of the most popular games in the winter Olympics, this game has started to attract millions. Starting from Canada, the sport has spread like wild fire and since the rules are pretty simple it is not very hard to grasp and thus gets very addictive.
In addition, it has taken a lot of inspiration from sports like rugby and field hockey, which is why it is quite relatable and is a very interesting game to observe. Though hard to learn, once understood the sport is an easy and fun game to indulge in which however, gets pretty serious when played in tournaments.
What might have seemed to lose momentum and popularity is increasing and developing as a sporting event and there by becoming one of the fanciest and most beautiful formats the world has ever witnessed.