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05-03-2014, 10:49 AM
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The Sport of Ice Hockey


Purpose of this thread is exploring, perhaps identifying when ice hockey started emerging as a sport, moving beyond that of a pastime activity.

Motivated by a recent thread:

and a specific post:

The thread and post in question both open a window to an interesting topic yet bypass two important considerations.

1.) When did ice hockey become a sport as opposed to a pastime?

2.) Does first or earliest set the foundation for continuity and growth of a pastime? a sport?

Best example of a definition of a sport as it pertains to Ice Hockey comes from the noted Québec Sports Historian Donald Guay. "L'histoire du hockey au Québec" 1990, 293 pages, ISBN 2-920176-81-1, Les Éditions JCL Inc.

Summarized, from Chapter 1, pages 18 and 19. Sport is a physical activity, pleasurful, competitive, rewarding, played according to written rules and a sporting spirit.(my translation)

In the following installments this will be examined in greater detail. When did Ice Hockey rise to the level of a sport in this context?

First or earliest, a noble exercise that often takes the focus away from the main objective of historical accuracy since the joy of finding a first or earliest removes attention from a key historical element continuity combined with growth. Finding old references or images from antiquity presents interesting curiosities BUT doing so does not prove or even illustrate how or when a pastime was elevated to the level of a sport.

As for the list of firsts submitted in the post that motivated this thread, they are interesting curiosities but far from sufficient when it comes to pinpointing the approximate time that ice hockey was elevated to the level of a sport.

Two specifically are worthy of greater attention. Future installments will go into greater detail.
1.) First contemporary report of an actual game between two identified teams.

This points to March 3, 1875. Game was publicized in the Gazette and reported the following day.Captain Torrance vs Captain creighton,, 9 on 9, Victoria Skating Rink in Montréal. Advance publicity, played Inside with a fairly detailed post event report the next day in The Gazette. Continuity and growth of the sport of Ice Hockey may be established from this date.

2.) First published ice hockey rules. I take this to mean found to date.

Somewhat of a cart before the horse situation. In the haste to claim a first or earliest there is a tendency to overlook rather obvious détails or fail to ask pressing questions.

This is evidence in the attempts to link the sport of Ice Hockey Rules to Field Hockey Rules. Donald Guay mentions the appearance of the February 27, 1877 rules in The Gazette. Actually produces them on page 43 of his book.

The difficulty that such efforts have is that the produced rules make no mention of ICE SKATING as defining ice hockey or mandatory for all participating players.

Whether an "understanding" or "self-evident", the requirement of Ice Skating would be a key and major component of Ice Hockey specific rules. As a result all that has been presented as "First Ice Hockey Rules" does not pass the test since there is no recognition of the role of Ice Skating. As such all that has been proposed as "First Rules", at best fits under the contributing drafts towards Ice Hockey rules umbrella.

In future installments rules or accepted conventions prior to March 3, 1875 will be examined.

Last edited by Canadiens1958: 05-04-2014 at 11:50 AM.
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