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The Changing World of Canadian Sports: Chistopher Waddell Co-Edits Book

A new book co-edited by a Carleton professor has revealed how things are changing fast for Canadian sports enthusiasts and athletes in the 21st century.

On Sept. 29, Carleton Journalism Professor Christopher Waddell will host an evening discussion at Irene’s Pub on the wide-ranging topics in How Canadians Communicate V: Sports. His panel will include journalist and author Roy MacGregor, who wrote the first chapter of the book, as well as other experts on university sports, reports on concussions and steroids, and media monopoly in professional leagues.

“We’ll touch on most parts of the book,” said Waddell, “not just the pieces that feature my or Roy’s pieces.”

The book’s contributors are a combination of academics and journalists that were invited by the editors to a conference in Banff in 2012. Ideas were passed around and assigned at a round table discussion. Tom Maloney, sports editor of The Globe & Mail, outlined the “concussion discussion” that his paper had begun to cover in 2009 while Janice Paskey, a professor at Mount Royal University, reported on whether children playing hockey should be checking.

One chapter in the book also compares Canadian and American university sports, which Waddell hopes Jennifer Brenning, Carleton’s director of recreation and athletics, will touch upon at Irene’s.

The book’s chapter that may resonate the most is one titled “Goodbye, Gordie Howe”. It’s not a eulogy to the hockey great but a footnote to an era when working class players could make it to the NHL. As Richard Gruneau summarized in chapter 12: “If a young male player these days isn’t from a family with enough resources to pay for power skating lessons, summer clinics, expensive equipment, and travel for league games and tournaments, his chances of making it to the pros are slim.”

Waddell co-edited the fifth instalment of How Canadians Communicate with David Taras, a journalism professor from Mount Allison University who created the series in 2003. The Carleton Carty Chair in business and financial journalism has worked extensively as a reporter and editor to The Globe & Mail, the CBC and The Financial Post, and he contributed his expertise to the dizzying world of broadcasting rights and media monopoly in the chapter titled “The Hall of Mirrors.”

The fact that Bell Canada and Rogers now own the Toronto Maple Leafs means the country’s main sports channels, Sportsnet and TSN, own the stadiums, the teams, and the broadcast stations of the games, and they also pay the commentators.

“From a journalistic point of view it’d be the same if the Liberal or Conservative party owned the House of Commons, the House’s broadcaster, and paid the reporters who cover it,” said Waddell. “You can imagine that there might be some conflicts of interests there.”

Taras and Waddell are currently writing a book together for University of Toronto Press that will expand upon these issues on a wider scale, as they tackle the future of public broadcasting in a post-broadcast world. With the rise of online streaming and the CBC’s loss of broadcasting rights to NHL games, it’s clear that Hockey Night in Canada has entered a brave new world where the rulebook has completely changed.

To attend the discussion on Sept.29, register by clicking here [1].