Doctor of Philosophy
This study critically examines the constructions of men’s hockey injuries in five popular Canadian newspapers published during the 2016-2017 NHL season. I draw on feminist theory and social constructionism and conduct a critical discourse analysis of 199 newspaper articles to examine media narratives, understand taken-for-granted assumptions about men’s hockey injuries and masculinities, and capture the role of language in producing, reproducing, and challenging hegemonic masculinity. I argue that the injury discourse, which constructs men’s injuries, the body, and male hockey players, is rooted in hegemonic masculinity. Specifically, I find that these discursive constructions include: the normalization of injuries as part of the game; injuries as a threat to player success; bodies are for the team; the injured body as an assemblage of parts; the commodified, durable, aged, and replaceable injured body; playing hurt as respectable; health as the responsibility of male hockey players; and the construction of the triumphant return. I conclude and argue that the injury discourse is less about injuries, health, or well-being, and more about validating and recreating hegemonic masculinity. As a discursive site and through injury talk, I find that within these popular newspapers, the ideal male hockey player is produced – one who plays hurt and hides injuries, sacrifices their body, and puts themselves in danger for their team. The ideal male hockey player operates like a machine; he is durable, young, takes care of his health, and when injured, returns unharmed to redeem himself. I show that a particular way of being a man is rewarded through encouragement and admiration. And any actions that do not conform to the ideal male hockey player are discouraged and labelled as unmanly. I do find evidence that the injury discourse is beginning to challenge hegemonic masculinity; I refer to this as ‘the humanized injury’ where emotions, thoughts, and experiences of injured players are validated and thus challenge and contest hegemonic masculinity. Overall, I conclude that the injury discourse reinforces sport as a gendered and gendering institution and reproduces dominant masculine health practices which have implications for men’s health generally. In making visible the ways that injuries are constructed, I open the possibility for parents, hockey coaches, league officials, and sport writers to offer alternative messages. Without alternative messages, harmful health practices will continue to be understood as the only legitimate and acceptable view of health in men’s hockey.
Summary for Lay Audience
This study examines how men’s hockey injuries are described in five popular Canadian newspaper published during the 2016-2017 NHL season. I analyze 199 newspaper articles to understand how sports media discusses, presents, and talks about men’s hockey injuries. The goal of this study was to understand media messages regarding men’s hockey injuries and to understand how these messages produce or challenge dominant ideals of masculinity. I argue that men’s hockey injuries are constructed in relation to masculinity. I find that the portrayal of men’s hockey injuries includes discussions of injuries, the injured body, and male hockey players. I found several depictions of injuries, which I categorized as: injuries as simply part of the game; injuries as a threat to player success; bodies are for the team; the injured body as an assemblage of parts; the economic, durable, aged, and replaceable injured body; playing hurt as respectable; health as the responsibility of male hockey players; and the construction of the triumphant return. This media portrayal of men’s hockey injuries, rewards, encourages, and admires particular ways of being a man, and deems as unmanly behaviours, beliefs, and actions outside of this. By exploring the constructions of injuries, parents, hockey coaches, league officials, and sport writers can work to offer alternative messages. Without alternative messages, harmful health practices in men’s hockey will continue to be understood as legitimate and acceptable.
Miele, Rachelle, "Hegemonic Masculinity and the Ideal Male Hockey Player: The Constructions of NHL Injuries in Popular Canadian Newspapers, 2016-2017" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6884.