Hockey Conference (2016), Fredericton, New Brunswick. The presentation drew on data from a three-year ethnographic research project on young people, parents, and sport administrators’ experiences of organized youth sport in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. The focus of the presentation was on problematizing the assumption that hockey ‘belongs’ in and to rural and small-town Canada. Why do we say this? What is this based off of? Was this ever or is this still the case? Using data from observations and interviews with young people, parents, and sport administrators in the West Kootenay region of BC, I demonstrated the ways in which this assumption still operates in some rural and small-towns, but that it is not without contestation and active resistance. I argued that local and regional hockey success in the early 19th century all the way into the 1960s lead to the formation of the region’s identity as a ‘hotbed of hockey’. Those who grew up, or who have family who played in this era, continue to support and keep hockey alive in this region. Yet, hockey participation numbers continue to decline, alongside community attendance at local games. I concluded that there are still a lot of people playing and watching hockey in these communities but that support is limited to certain segments of the population: notably, those who are descendants of the players from the ‘glory days’ and those who played hockey themselves growing up. Through their everyday actions and narratives, some residents are keeping the idea of hockey alive in the face of fewer and fewer tangible markers of hockey (success) in the region. I concluded that there is too much diversity in the way hockey is being lived and experienced – as well as too much diversity within and between rural and small towns – to suggest hockey still (or ever did) belong to rural and small towns.
Generally, the presentation informs and outlines the ways in which local history and culture shape the experience of organized youth sport. Specifically, local sport history and the role that hockey played in putting the region on the sport map, continue to influence decisions that young people, parents, and sport administrators make about which sports to play, support, or fund. It helped develop some broader ideas about the need to deliver sport programs in rural and small-towns through a place-based approach. As a result, I will present at the 2016 Alberta Parks and Recreation conference, Connecting Through Research, where I will be talking mainly to practitioners about how to use research to deliver meaningful programs to rural and small-town residents.">
'It's real in that they make it real but it's not actually real, tangible' : Hockey in rural and small-town British Columbia | DOOR (DOuglas Open Repository)