Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Race and Sport in Canada: Intersecting Inequalities

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Race and Sport in Canada: Intersecting Inequalities

Article excerpt

Race and Sport in Canada: Intersecting Inequalities Janelle Joseph, Simon Darnell, Yuka Nakamura (Eds.) Canadian Scholars' Press, 2012

Race and Sport in Canada: Intersecting Inequalities offers an interesting collection of studies focused on race and sport and their intersections with age, gender, class, masculinity, and sexuality. In the introduction, the editors, Joseph, Darnell, and Nakamura, articulated that sport is a complex social phenomenon where "race, racism, and racial hierarchy are constructed and maintained, yet simultaneously obscured and normalized" (p. 2). The aim of this book is to illustrate such complex relations between race and sport and provide "an opportunity to resist, rethink, and reimagine notions of race in Canada and what it means to be Canadian" (p. 3). Thus, as Walcott mentioned in the preface, this book attempts to provide a critical analysis on Canadian multiculturalism and critique of racism studies in Canada.

As a point of departure, the editors first acknowledge that race is a socially and politically constructed illusive concept, yet it constantly shapes mainstream Canadian culture and every aspect of individuals' lives in Canada. While researchers debunked the deterministic notion of race as an essential biological feature (Omi & Winant, 2002), their explanation in the introduction is timely and prudent. They further stressed the importance of the book by pointing out the paucity of studies that have examined the relations between race and sport within the Canadian context.

The rest of the book consists of 10 chapters authored by various researchers who examined diverse topics related to race and sport. The chapters are organized into three thematic areas. The first four chapters provide historical accounts on race and sport in Canada. In Chapter 1, Field reviewed the history of immigration to Canada and the impact of sport on the life of immigrants during the first half of the 20th century. By illustrating diverse immigrant groups' sport experiences in Canada, Field pointed out a dual utility of sports and explained that sports can facilitate immigrants' contact with mainstream culture and promote their assimilation into Canadian society, yet it can also stymie their assimilation by providing a social context where immigrants can enhance ethnic solidarity. Field also went beyond the dual utility notion by documenting how immigrants established sport clubs in many cities in Canada and introduced new sports to the country. Field articulated various functions of sports on immigrants' life and emphasized that immigrants are not passive actors waiting to be assimilated into Canadian society, but active constituents of the country's sport culture.

In Chapter 2, Valentine and Darnell examined racial tolerance between Canada and America by comparing the history of Black football players in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and National Football League (NFL) during the 20th century. They noted that all Canadian professional football teams were racially integrated by 1951 so the racial integration took place much faster in CFL compared to NFL. Moreover, while many NFL teams did not draft Black quarterbacks due to the racial prejudice, CFL teams recruited Black quarterbacks from the U.S. and allowed Black players to continue their football career. Although these records implied that Canadian society, or at least Canadian football culture, is more supportive to racial diversity compare to the U.S., Valentine and Darnell challenged this idea by documenting Black players' experience of racism and their resistance to racial hierarchy in Canada. Although racism might be less prevalent in Canada, the authors concluded that it is deeply embedded in the fabric of Canadian society.

In Chapter 3, Krebs conducted intertextual discourse analyses on Canadian mass media and examined how ice hockey is portrayed, marketed, and commercialized for the general public. Utilizing the concept of Whitestream, Krebs' critical analysis revealed that White male hegemony was legitimized in the Canadian hockey scene by constantly normalizing Anglophone and the violence of hockey players in and out of sport settings. …

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