The Tyee: If Hockey Is Universal, Why Does It Leave So Many Out in the Cold?
The Tyee provided me with some space to write to write about Dr. Courtney Szto's book about the experiences of South Asian Canadians in hockey culture. We can't just declare that "hockey is for everyone" — making that statement a reality requires work.
It's very difficult to talk about the culture of hockey because the symbolism of hockey is so tightly tied to Canadian identity. I've heard people genuinely say "there is no such thing as hockey culture" — they can't even see it. Part of making hockey more welcoming and inclusive is untangling that web.
People who are fans of hockey or who are involved in hockey often take exception to this line of questioning but it's important to not forget that hockey's leaders continue to fail on these issues, consistently and publicly: the OHF shut down their (volunteer!) diversity and inclusion task group in 2020; the NHL stonewalled the Hockey Diversity Alliance until they gave up; meanwhile, the HDA doesn't include any women; the NWHL/PWHPA fumbled the Barstool issue and shows a lack of understanding of the issue at hand; the list goes on and on.
Moreover, we also must recognize that organizations and cultures are inherently conservative (note the small "c"). They aren't going to change on their own — dissenting and external voices are important for the health of the organization. You may not be a bigot but when you resist efforts to change hockey because you feel things are "good enough", your reasons don't matter: you are contributing to the problem.
It also seems appropriate to link Samantha Chang's thread and remind people that criticism and analysis comes from a place of love. When you love something the way we love(d) hockey, it's really damaging to have to consider the possibility that hockey doesn't love you back. I will continue to push the conversation because I loved hockey growing up (I still love it now, just in a different way). Ultimately, the point is that Dr. Szto wrote a great book and, once you're done reading my piece, you should buy it. Thanks again to Christopher Cheung and The Tyee for giving me the space to do it.