Vive Le Canada

Winnipeg Jets logo and Militarism
Date: Sunday, August 07 2011

New Winnipeg Jets among the only international professional sports teams in the world depicting in-service weapons of war.

The new Winnipeg Jets logo has received a lot of commentary with respect to the design, layout and overall look. While some are simply happy to retain the “Jets” label, others have applauded True North for using pro-military imagery in the new design.

The association of sport synonymously with military symbolism merits some further discussion.

Militarism, Sport, Europe. War without weapons (2003) edited by J.A. Mangan noted the extent to which nations have used, and use sport as a form of cultural conditioning throughout history, from Roman gladiators to the mass sporting events in 1920s Italy to modern-day North Korea.

Bad Sport, How owners are ruining the games we love (2010) by David Zirin notes that stadiums and sports teams are now often being used as religious and political platforms. Zirin highlights the fact that everything from “

Military Family Days” to pro-war speeches propagated by George Bush at halftime shows have changed the playing field from centres of leisure and entertainment to centres of modern-day nationalist zeal.

An arena full of uniformed spectators, fervently waving flags is certainly not an image often associated with Canadian sport, and bears striking allusions to the sport exhibition games in many countries with militaristic (and often dictatorial) governments.

Even in Canada, the Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs “Military Night” on February 19, 2011 saw a camouflaged Canadian Forces Light Utility Vehicle on centre-ice, rather than the beloved Zamboni or the much-coveted Dodge Ram.

The International Olympic Committee understands the negative associations military sloganism can have in professional sport, and prior to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, informed US goalie Jonathan Quick that he would not be permitted to wear a “Support our Troops” slogan on his helmet through IOC Rule 51, though this type of policy does not exist in the NHL.

Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent: The political economy of mass media (1988) found that associating militarism to sport simply propagates nationalist-like fervor, and is an iniquitous medium to garner support for our military actions overseas, legitimate or otherwise.

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