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Game misconduct: Poll finds problems with misogyny, racism persist in youth hockey

Last Updated May 5, 2021 at 8:49 am PDT

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Culture around community rinks has problems, according to people involved in youth and amateur hockey

More than half of people who have played youth, amateur hockey say disrespect to girls, women part of culture: poll

88 per cent of Canadians surveyed say organized hockey is too expensive for lower-income people to play

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Hockey may be Canada’s game, but the culture around community rinks has problems, according to those involved at youth and amateur levels.

A new poll suggests misogyny, racism, bullying, and a lack of inclusion are persistent issues.

The Angus Reid Institute survey reveals more than half of those who have played or coached youth hockey (56%) say they perceive the treatment of women and girls by young, male hockey players as misogynistic or disrespectful.

That sentiment increases to 63 per cent among those who did not play but identify as having spent time around the game cheering on a close friend, family member, or partner.

“Often when we have these types of conversations around culture or what’s happening at the community rink, there can be a sense that if people don’t have a level of closeness to that life that they just don’t know what they’re talking about,” says Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute.

“But when we talked to people who have that experience of youth or amateur hockey life, when more than half of them identify some of these problems as being part of hockey culture, then we know this is something not just the chattering classes are talking about.”

Half of the respondents to the poll feel hockey has a problem with racism. The percentage  rises to 58 per cent among those who identify as a visible minority.

When it comes to inclusivity, 88 per cent of Canadians say that organized hockey is too expensive for lower-income people to play.

However, despite the problems, Kurl says many people feel hockey culture does have some positives.

“It’s not as though people are dumping all over hockey life. People feel very strongly that it is part of Canada’s fabric, Canadian identity, and Canadian culture. They feel very strongly that youth hockey teaches some really good lessons as well, things like hard work and persistence,” she tells NEWS 1130. “Many feel that being involved in hockey can help kids prepare for life outside the rink. It’s not all negative.”

The poll also finds a significant percentage of respondents feel hockey culture is improving.

“If you’re someone who played when you were younger or who’s been involved directly as a coach, manager or referee, two-in-five feel it is getting better. A minority of people close to or who have participated in hockey say it is getting worse. Significant segments say it’s a problem, but it is being chipped away at.”

-With files from Jon Szekeres