Running head: RINKSIDE TWEETING                       Rinkside Tweeting: A Foucauldian Analysis of                  Changi...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                      2                  ...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                    3voices that had beco...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                      4       It is impor...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                       5affected by these...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                    6from the rest of the...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                        7Foucault‟s disci...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                    8economic reports, li...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                  9market, which encompas...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                   10and off-ice skills a...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                       11       Additiona...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                 12buildings, so some pla...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                        13order to escape...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                 14exerts its macro-power...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                    15stage for the devel...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                         16        Howeve...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                      17work), and the fa...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                      18       The assump...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                  19       Perhaps the st...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                  20branded stars like Si...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                        21therefore invit...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                       22hometown heroes ...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                          23dynamic cause...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                       24        In perso...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                        25becomes increas...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                         26power groups o...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                       27constructs profe...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                    28        In conclusi...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                   29the normalising disc...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                  30strategies to resist ...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                             31                          ...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                               32Hindess, B. (1996). Disc...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                 33Myers, A. (2010, Septe...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                      34                                        Figure Ca...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                35         The NHL       ...
RINKSIDE TWEETING                                                                                 36        The NHL       ...
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Rinkside Tweeting: A Foucauldian Analysis of Changing Power Relations in the National Hockey league

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Paper written for my Social Theory of the Body class, taken as part of the Kinesiology Master's programme in Socio-Cultural Studies of Sport, Health and the Body at Queen's University in Fall 2010.

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Transcript of "Rinkside Tweeting: A Foucauldian Analysis of Changing Power Relations in the National Hockey league"

  1. 1. Running head: RINKSIDE TWEETING Rinkside Tweeting: A Foucauldian Analysis of Changing Power Relations in the National Hockey League Naila Jinnah Queen‟s University KHS 869 Professor Rob Beamish January 27, 2011
  2. 2. RINKSIDE TWEETING 2 Rinkside Tweeting: A Foucauldian Analysis of Changing Power Relations in the National Hockey League Foucauldian interpretations of power in the sporting context often tend to focus onconcepts of discipline and the technologies of self as they apply to the development of high-performance athletes. While these are important aspects of Foucault‟s work on power, there ismore to athlete development than simply performance. In this paper, I will outline how power asFoucault understood it is relevant to the off-ice life of National Hockey League (NHL) athletes.More specifically, I will dissect the various powers at play when these professional hockeyplayers embrace social media tools like Twitter, and outline the potential motivations that eachpower group (traditional media, the league and its teams, athletes, and the fans) may have inembracing the technology. Twitter is a relatively new interactive social media tool that allows users (tweeters) topost 140-character status updates publicly or privately on the Twitter.com website. Each update,or tweet, can contain a variety of content, from basic text to links. Several third-party tools alsofacilitate the integration of photo and video content with tweets, which allows users whosubscribe to the tweeter‟s feed (followers) to more easily interact with the tweeter and his or hercontent, whether by replying to it or forwarding it (retweeting) on their own feed to their ownfollowers. All tweets, including replies and retweets, are public and accessible online to userswho are not subscribed to Twitter, unless the tweeter elects to make his or her feed private andaccessible to authorised users only. Evidently, this new form of open communication enables tweeters to share their personalor professional content with anyone who cares to look it up, thereby eliminating the traditionalmiddleman screening process of print and broadcast news services (Horne, 2006). As a result,
  3. 3. RINKSIDE TWEETING 3voices that had become marginalized in the industrialization process are once again being heardthanks to the globalizing technology that is the Internet. Certain traditional power groups havebeen slower than others to embrace new media, namely the mainstream media (Horne, 2006). In2011, most newspapers, magazines, radio shows and television stations in major markets nowhave some sort of social media presence, and many of their reporters do tweet. In the NorthAmerican professional sporting industry, the NHL has been at the forefront of social mediaadoption. Indeed, the NHL boasts having the most technologically-savvy fan base (Leggio,2010) and as a result, its athletes are increasingly using Twitter as their personal soapboxes. Before examining the types of power exerted by the various influence groups involvedwhen athletes tweet, it is important to understand what Foucault meant by power. Foucault‟searly work focused on repressive power, sovereign power, and the disciplinary society,mechanisms that were characterised by practices of surveillance, punishment and resistance(1977). Although these power concepts usually have negative connotations, Foucault viewedthem as positive opportunities and productive juridico-discursive models, since resisting powerprovides an opportunity for the formation of identities, knowledge and truth (Widder, 2004).Foucault‟s later work elaborated on these concepts while focusing on what he called thetechnologies of self. These include the aesthetics of self, or the voluntary rules of conduct thatone imposes on him or her self, as well as ethics, or how the individual sees him or her self as amoral subject (McHoul & Grace, 1997). Accordingly, Foucault‟s understanding of powerexpanded to include the idea of the individual as a subject of the normalizing discoursesproduced by dominant power groups and disciplinary power, and he believed that these powerstructures are open for negotiation “in social realms where all voices do not have the sameopportunities to be heard” (Markula & Pringle, 2007, p. 33).
  4. 4. RINKSIDE TWEETING 4 It is important to note that Foucault saw power as relational, omnipresent, and mutable,not as a possession that one individual, group or institution applies on another (Markula &Pringle, 2007). In other words, one cannot hold power; that is simply the final shape in which itis exerted. Additionally, Foucault (1982) believed that those who are subjected to powernecessarily possess some degree of freedom, or choice. This therefore allows for the possibilityof resistance, whether passive or active, to empowered entities. Since power relations are notfixed but rather, are subject to change, this resistance can eventually create shifts at societallevels which, in the long run, may cause the emergence of new voices and new dominant powergroups within existing relations (Markula & Pringle, 2007). This concept is essential toFoucault‟s understanding of power and eliminates traditional power analysis inquiries focusingon the intentions and objectives of power holders. Accordingly, the question we must pose is not “Who holds the power?” but rather, wemust ask, “Why do various groups exert power on each other?” “How do they exert this power?”and, “What kind of power is exerted?” Although innumerable power relations are stimulatedwhen NHL athletes tweet, the groups I will focus on are traditional media, official league andteam representatives, the athletes themselves, and, of course, their audience: the fans. I will alsotouch briefly on the related groups of athlete managers, such as player agents and the NHLPlayers‟ Association (NHLPA), and citizen media. In each case, I will give a brief overview ofthe various forms of power Foucault could have perceived to be exerted by one group onanother. I will also outline each group‟s role in the traditional professional sports landscape anddemonstrate how social media has changed those power relations. Finally, in considering thegoals and motivations of each group in using Twitter, I will focus on how NHL athletes are
  5. 5. RINKSIDE TWEETING 5affected by these new power structures, and show that while all groups exert some sort of poweron each other and on themselves, the fans are the most powerful influencers of tweeting athletes. Long before the development of the Internet and, more specifically, social mediatechnologies, traditional media were the key to the survival of professional sports. From the riseof professionalism in the early 1900s to the emergence of consumerism in sport 50 years later,newspapers, radio, television and even magazines have ensured that pro sports leagues getthrough to their target audience. The relationship between sport and media has always been asymbiotic economic partnership: sports coverage sold newspapers and newspapers sold sportscoverage. As Horne (2006) explains: Sport, on the one hand, is primarily interested in the media because of the need for exposure. Exposure for a sport attracts new recruits. It attracts fans, consumers and spectators. In the past forty years media exposure has also boosted the chances of gaining, if not guaranteeing, sponsorship. The media, on the other hand, are interested in sport, first, because intrinsic aspects of sport form the basis for an ideal news story. All sports offer a predictable occurrence with an unpredictable outcome and the ideal news story is exactly that. (p.42)Horne (2006) also adds that sport sparks tremendous public interest and attracts large audienceswho can then be converted into regular news consumers, thereby increasing the media‟s potentialadvertising revenue (p. 42). In addition to offering sports content, either by paying for print and broadcasting rights orsimply by covering sporting news and events, traditional or mainstream media acts as acommunication platform for the various power groups involved with the NHL (See Figure 1).Indeed, though all groups exert some degree of power over one another, fans are mostly isolated
  6. 6. RINKSIDE TWEETING 6from the rest of the NHL power players except through mainstream media. The media allowsfans to access information about the league and its teams (who, together, represent the NHL asan entity), athletes, and, by extension, their agents and association (NHLPA). The only otherdirect influence on the fans comes from the leagues/teams, and it is applicable only when fansattend hockey games and are directly subjected to team and league marketing and brandingthrough in-game entertainment programming. The players do not directly exert power on thefans, except through rare impromptu interactions outside the regulated structure of players‟ lives:during chance encounters at the grocery store, at nightclubs or even after a team practice, forexample. In general, the only way fans can access sport information and content is throughtraditional media services. This limitation sets the stage for empowering resistance as fans canchoose to take action against the dominant powers that construct and restrict them; in this case,the NHL and mainstream media (Markula & Pringle, 2007). The media, however, is also heavily influenced by the NHL. As Sage (1998) explains,professional sports and traditional media interact on several levels. First, as business partners,who together spread the league‟s ideology and values in order to maintain the dominantdiscourse they have constructed together (p. 174). This is what Foucault would refer to asjuridico-discursive power: one that does not necessarily seek to normalise individuals but ratherto produce “manageable forms of difference” (Widder, 2004, p. 443). In marketing terms, it ismuch more effective for the NHL and the media to have one more or less homogeneousconsumerist group to cater to in order to maximise its profits. In other words, the proper use ofnormative power can lead to more opportunities to exert economic power. Secondly, due to theirsymbiotic relationship, the media is only a weak critic of the NHL and its teams‟ actions,especially when it comes to shifts caused by other groups exerting power (Sage, 1998, p. 167).
  7. 7. RINKSIDE TWEETING 7Foucault‟s disciplinary power is at play here, since the league can, in theory, revoke the media‟srights and access to its teams and players at any time, though it cannot do that withoutundermining its own product. Also, the media does occasionally exert disciplinary power on theleague by publishing pointed or sardonic criticism that threatens to destabilise the discursivestatus quo. Therefore, the NHL and mainstream media are involved in a mutual power struggleto gain the upper hand in the manufacturing of discourses related to professional hockey in NorthAmerica, ideals which can then be sold to audiences in order to convert them from simplesupporters of the sport to engaged fans, and, more importantly, consumers of the NHL brand(Crawford, 2003). Additionally, in traditional power relations, mainstream media is the primary bearer ofnon-league-based power on the athlete (See Figure 1). Since the media is perceived to representthe collective voices of the fans, and because media is actively involved in the socialconstruction of fans‟ opinions, athletes are influenced by what they think to be an accuraterepresentation of their primary audience‟s feedback on their performance on and off the ice. Inthis traditional structure, fans do not have an effective way to engage in dialogues with athletesother than by sending personal letters to the athletes through their teams, writing letters to theeditor, or calling-in to local radio shows. In the latter cases, traditional media continues to act asan intermediary between groups, and in the first case, teams filter the communications betweenboth groups. Fans can only exert power via economics, by choosing whether or not to buy – andbuy-in to – league and team merchandise, memorabilia, and event tickets. This is the onlyinstance where fans‟ marginalised voices are not edited before their message is heard, though itcan still potentially be manipulated by advertising prior to purchase and by the manipulation of
  8. 8. RINKSIDE TWEETING 8economic reports, like by publicising the number of tickets sold rather than game attendancefigures, for example. Yet embedded in all human relations is this productive force Foucault refers to asresistance which can empower the fans, in our situation, to engage in transformative interactions(Markula & Pringle, 2007, p. 146). Indeed, Hindness (1996) proposes that Foucault‟s power canbe interpreted as a structure of actions: “Power, in this sense, is manifested in the instruments,techniques and procedures that may be brought to bear on the actions of others” (p. 100). ForFoucault, where there is no possibility for resistance – or freedom – there can be no relations ofpower (Hindness, 1996, p. 101). In other words, by harnessing the potential of globalisingtechnologies like the Internet, fans have the potential to upset the traditional balance of power.Additionally, Foucault believes that resistance cannot be imposed by a force exterior to thepower relation in question but rather, it can only be manifested positively within a series ofinteractions (Markula & Pringle, 2007, p. 214). Power relationships are therefore constantlyfluctuating due to the counter-powers that are provoked by these de-balancing struggles (McHoul& Grace, 1997, p. 83). One such counter-power provoked into action is that of the athletes. In the traditionalstructure, the players‟ ability to influence other power groups is limited by the paternalisticpower of the league and its teams. According to Foucault (1982), power exists in three qualities:its origin, its basic nature, and its manifestation (p. 785). In this case, the sovereign powerexercised by the NHL stems from its origins as essentially the only economically viable optionfor those who wanted to play hockey for a living. The NHL was therefore the primary influencerin the creation of the pro hockey player discourses we know today, with some assistance from itsmedia partners. The league manifested its power by governing its territory, the North American
  9. 9. RINKSIDE TWEETING 9market, which encompasses its primary investment: the players (Sage, 1998). Through thedistribution and structuring of labour (Foucault, 1982, p. 787), the NHL encouraged its working-class athletes to focus on disciplining and dominating their bodies (Robidoux, 2001, p. 30) inorder to reach their now normalised mutual objective of earning a “win” at any cost (Sage, 1998,p. 174). The NHL‟s power is therefore manifested any time anyone reflects on their personalunderstanding of and expectations for NHL players, both as unique individuals off-ice and asundifferentiated performers and labourers on-ice. In other words, NHL players are sociallyconstructed en masse to fit a specific mould that restricts the individual labourer‟s ability tothreaten the league‟s economic goals (Robidoux, 2001). Sport, after all, is first and foremost abusiness, and the “productive labour force of professional sport is the athletes. Without theathletes, there would be no sport event – no product” (Sage, 1998, p. 212). Indeed, one of the NHL‟s greatest achievements is in constructing a discourse that runsso deep in our collective minds that it positively influences young boys‟ dreams to become NHLplayers, at which point they themselves can continue to perpetuate the same ideologicaldiscourses on future generations of players and their fans (Robidoux, 2001). In fact, the NHLsingles-out certain carefully crafted bodies based on their extraordinary on-ice performance andapparent morally irreproachable off-ice performance to represent their mass of labourers to thegeneral public (Boyle, 2000). The mainstream media then helps to make household names of thelikes of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, who, caught up in the demanding day-to-day labourroutines imposed by the league, continue to spread the “love-of-the-game” mentality they grewup with (Robidoux, 2001, p. 47). Without a doubt, Foucault would interpret these superstars asdocile bodies, as they are produced by the disciplinary power of the league and its teams(Markula & Pringle, 2007) and were selected only for their capacity to best perform the on-ice
  10. 10. RINKSIDE TWEETING 10and off-ice skills associated with this role (Shogan, 1999, p. 35). Of course, players are alsoheavily disciplined by their teams and the league, both in terms of the strict regulations andrigorous training schedules imposed on athletes in order to maintain elite performances, and interms of the self-mastery of the body required to stay competitive on the ice (Shogan, 1999).This is where Foucault‟s theories and sport studies usually intersect: in disciplinary power, withits focus on the control of bodies that is exercised fundamentally by means of surveillancetechniques such as hierarchical observation (by coaches, scouts, managers and fellow players),timetables (structured daily routines) and “systems of rank” (earning a guaranteed spot on theroster rather than facing the threats of being benched, scratched, or even sent to the minorleagues) (Markula & Pringle, 2007, p. 39). As a result of these potential points of resistance, athletes chose to integrate externalspower groups into their relationships with the league, namely player agents and the NHLPA, todeal with the business aspects that they were not experienced with (Boyle, 2000, p. 105). Bothcome into being to help athletes resist the NHL‟s sovereign power, which, as Foucault stressed,has nothing to do with people but rather, is concerned with managing a territory and all itencompasses (the players and their talent, in this case) within the boundaries of laws andestablished order for the “common good” of all (1991, p. 95). Without these techniques ofresistance, athletes would likely be just as marginalized as the fans in the traditional powerstructure. However, with agents looking out for their financial needs and the NHLPA looking outfor their workforce needs, athletes are now better equipped to “govern [their] destiny andcareers” (Boyle, 2000, p. 100), which is an essential skill especially since the average lifespan ofa professional athlete is only 5 years (Sage, 1998, p. 214).
  11. 11. RINKSIDE TWEETING 11 Additionally, though players can resist media pressures by refusing to cooperate ininterviews, these disciplinary measures exerted by the athlete are likely to endanger his chancesof a post-playing career in related industries like broadcasting or sports management, since theathlete may come to be perceived as unaccommodating and hard to work with (Sage, 1998, p.216). Similarly, though the act of playing is sometimes explained as being an act of resistance(Robidoux, 2001), in playing poorly, the athlete is threatening his chances of remaining a valuedcontributor to the team. Instead, NHL athletes are more likely to be successful by improvingtheir abilities and in the general bettering of themselves to maximise life opportunities, or inother words, by using technologies of self, whether their goal is to secure a primary position onthe team roster or a post-retirement broadcasting offer (Kelly & Hickey, 2010). Though Foucaultdoes not believe in the Marxist idea of a “true self” that one can aspire to liberate by exertingpower, he does argue that people can “build a certain type of identity within the relations ofpower by using one‟s own power ethically” (Markula & Pringle, 2007, p. 143). This is preciselywhat athletes are trying to do by resisting the traditional discourses and problematising theiridentity within them. As Markula & Pringle (2007) write, “instead of conforming to a fixedidentity, we can critically reconstruct the way our identities have been formed,” though athletescan only do so within the existing moral codes of their sport (p. 144). In reality, most of the power athletes are said to exert is illusionary; it is present only inthe perpetuation of discourses that put them up on a pedestal and identify them as celebrities orheroes (Robidoux, 2001, p. 179). However, players do exert power over one group: themselves.Veterans initiating rookies to the ways of life in the NHL or one player rising above the otherswhile competing for the same position are some examples of this (Robidoux, 2001). Of course,no one can be sure what other kinds of resistance take place behind the closed doors of NHL
  12. 12. RINKSIDE TWEETING 12buildings, so some players may be quietly sparking struggles in traditional power relationsoutside the public eye, either by refusing to conform to the professional hockey player norm orby continually challenging these norms through their actions or lack thereof. It would be remiss to leave out certain other developments in North Americanprofessional hockey that impacted the player market, namely the formation of the World HockeyAssociation (WHA) in an attempt to challenge the NHL‟s domination. One major differencebetween the WHA and the NHL was the former‟s refusal to implement a “reserve clause” thatautomatically renewed players‟ contracts without the possibility for salary negotiation at the endof the term, therefore empowering the athletes in that specific power relationship (“WorldHockey Association,” n.d. ). This short but intense struggle between the leagues (1972-1979)ended the NHL‟s monopoly on talent, and players now had the ability to negotiate higher salariesand better working/playing conditions, especially since the talent pool had expanded due to thelarger number of professional ice hockey teams in North America. In other words, professionalhockey production had increased dramatically and, when the WHA folded, this excess ofproduction needed to reintegrate the now smaller marketplace, causing a fierce competitionbetween athletes to earn roster spots, even if four of the defunct WHA‟s teams had joined theNHL (“World Hockey Association,” n.d.). All of these factors caused a shift in the balance of power between the league and itsathletes, forcing the NHL to move from sovereign power tactics to those of Foucault‟s art ofgovernment. Rather than governing a territory, the league‟s primary concern now became itsathletes and, by extension, its fans. Instead of promoting obedience to the unwritten rules of theNHL marketplace, the league had to develop new strategies and tactics, including rules, to“ensure that the greatest possible quantity of wealth is produced” (Foucault, 1991, p. 95). In
  13. 13. RINKSIDE TWEETING 13order to escape the grips of sovereign power structures and move past these crises, the leagueand its players launched into a mutual pledge to work together in creating the new structures ofgovernmental power. As a result, a new „normal‟ was established, whereby, as Foucault (1991)explains: the population [or athlete] is the subject of needs, of aspirations, but it is also the object in the hands of the government [league], aware, vis-a-vis the government [league], of what it wants, but ignorant of what is being done to it. (p. 99).Therefore, though the athletes had successfully challenged the league, they were still subjected toits overarching influence. It should also be said that although the main power structure hadchanged, sovereign power and disciplinary power had not been eliminated. In fact, if anything,the NHL‟s ability to govern the athlete had increased as it now had new motivations and newtactics to do so (Foucault, 1991, p. 102). Additionally the NHL‟s triumph over the WHA provedonce and for all that it could not be rivalled (“World Hockey Association,” n.d.). Now, not only did the NHL have a monopoly on professional hockey in North America,it was also acting as a cartel. According to Sage (1998), “In professional team sports, the purposeof cartel organizations is that of restricting competition for athletes (the labor force) and dividingmarkets among franchises in the industry” (p. 196). The NHL is therefore a network of power whichcomprises a number of teams, or institutions, whose actions it regulates so that they may behave inthe interests of the league (Sage, 1998, p. 196). Similarly, Foucault sees the institutions of thegovernment as arms through which the state‟s power may be extended in order to properly regulatethe everyday life of its citizens (Foucault, Fabion & Hurley, 2000, p. 171). Though each team hasits own set of regulations, it can only exert power on the athletes at the micro-level, throughprivate day-to-day disciplinary tactics (Widder, 2004, p. 445). The league, on the other hand,
  14. 14. RINKSIDE TWEETING 14exerts its macro-power very publicly through its overarching influence on the teams who need itsestablished structure to survive, but also through the professional hockey discourses that fix theathletes‟ identities according to the truths and meanings the league wishes to perpetuate (Widder,2004, p. 433). Both the league and its teams use public relations and communications industry tools likepress releases to relate these truths to the public, through the intermediary of the mainstreammedia. In general, the team controls messages relating to its power level: day-to-day teamactivities like practice schedules, game-day information, and promotional events. Conversely, theleague controls communications pertaining to macro-level activities like creating and releasingthe master NHL schedule, and essentially takes over the whole organizational structure of thelocal teams hosting league-wide events like the annual All-Star Game, Entry Draft and StanleyCup Playoffs, events with massive marketing, branding and discourse perpetuation potential. The advent of the Internet and its subsequent integration in most urban households acrossthe developed world has undeniably changed the flow of information to mass audiences, goingfrom a top-down approach to a system with more of a bottoms-up potential. As fans began tohave more instant access to team and league communications, through team websites, forexample, the influence of the mainstream media declined, causing a significant shift in the powerrelations structure (See Figure 2). Indeed, not only did the NHL no longer need traditional mediato disseminate information on its behalf, the power groups that were previously slighted now hadthe opportunity to speak out on branded or partisan-free, frontier-less, unfiltered spaces likewebsites, message boards, and chat rooms, and later on, on blogs, in the comments sections ofcertain websites, and on social networks, to name but a few (Boyle, 2000). These chaoticchanges (oversimplified here) brought on by the rapid rise of new media technologies set the
  15. 15. RINKSIDE TWEETING 15stage for the development of new intermediaries and interactive tools like Twitter, which providethe opportunity for more direct communication between power groups. In essence, the Internetoffered an alternative to mainstream media, and fans practiced resistance by choosing this newinformation source (Horne, 2006). It is important to note, however, that the old power relations present in the traditionalstructure (See Figure 1) are still just as valid and accessible; they have simply become strongeror weaker since the introduction of new intermediaries (See Figure 2). The mainstream media‟sinfluence was especially weakened by its slow adaptation to new technologies. In its absence,other powers flourished, mainly those exerted by the fans and athletes. Additionally, a newpower group emerged: citizen media. This brand of journalism is produced by private citizenswho are not professionally trained but participate in the development and distribution of content,primarily by publishing it on the Internet through various tools (“Citizen Media”, n.d.). Citizenmedia tends to be perceived by audiences as more authentic, accountable and direct, and in somecases, the publishing process is quicker because of the lack of editorial structures typicallypresent in traditional media newsrooms. Though news-based citizen journalism tends to focus onthe reporting of issues of public interest that traditional media neglects due to its political, socialand corporate affiliations (“Citizen Media”, n.d.), sports-related citizen media seems to gravitatemore towards offering partisan, over-the-top coverage of a specific sports team, league, or trend,most of it published on personal blogs or fan-run online sports networks, as well as on socialmedia networks like Facebook and Twitter. Indeed, new media provides a range of platforms forpeople to express themselves, and with limited barriers to entry: all you need is a computer withInternet access and an idea (Stever, 2009). Twitter takes it one step further: all you need is anopinion and any Internet-accessing device to share your thoughts with the world.
  16. 16. RINKSIDE TWEETING 16 However, Foucault (2000) would caution against an understanding of Twitter as a toolthat, by its very nature, is functionally liberating: Liberty is a practice. So there may, in fact, always be a certain number of projects [Twitter] whose aim is to modify some constraints, to loosen, or even to break them, but none of these projects can, simply by its nature, assure that people will have liberty automatically, that it will be established by the project itself [Twitter]. (p. 354)Instead, Twitter can be understood as a railroad of sorts, connecting people by reducing the spacebetween them, and allowing them to communicate faster than ever before (Foucault, 2000, p.352). Likewise, it is the knowledge produced by resistance that modifies power relations, not theact of resistance itself. In fact, when examining power relations, it is the way in whichknowledge circulates and functions that is truly being examined, as well as its relation to power(Widder, 2004, p. 434). It is in discourse that power and knowledge become linked and consequently,“it is the daily and ceaseless relations that occur between all people in all locations that ultimatelyproduce subjectivities, economic systems, laws and, more generally, social realities and transformations”(Markula & Pringle, 2007, pp. 37-38). Therefore, power and knowledge cannot exist without eachother, and as a result, knowledge is also produced by normalising, disciplinary methods(Foucault, 1977). Nevertheless, athletes who use Twitter are able to contribute to the discourses involvingthem by producing their own knowledge and dispersing it through an open, non-discriminatorypublishing platform. For the first time, NHL players have the potential to truly and completelycontrol their communications with other power groups. Of course, they are still subjected todisciplinary measures like surveillance by their agent, their team, the league, mainstream mediareporters (especially those who engage on Twitter on behalf of the corporations for which they
  17. 17. RINKSIDE TWEETING 17work), and the fans. Additionally, since you do not need to be a Twitter user in order to see apublic stream of tweets, Foucault‟s Panopticon metaphor is applicable here. NHL representativesin particular could potentially be using Twitter as a paternalistic surveillance tool to protect thediscourses they have worked so hard to build over the years (Kelly & Hickey, 2010, p. 41). AsFoucault explains, the panoptic gaze is defined by the potential observation it implies, as well asthe invisibility of the examination that would result from it (1977). In other words, since Twitteris by nature a public platform, the illusion of surveillance should encourage athletes to practiceself-discipline and filter their own content. The Panopticon model doesn‟t always work as it should, though, as proven by the case ofPhoenix Coyotes support player Paul Bissonnette, who is known for his colourful tweets,especially under his first account, @paulbiznasty (no longer available on Twitter but archived onhttp://topsy.com/twitter/paulbiznasty). Bissonnette‟s deliberately controversial trash talking wasmet with much criticism when he called Russian free-agent Ilya Kovalchuk a “communist” incommenting on the star‟s contract woes (Az Vibe, 2010). Some of Bissonnette‟s followers andNHL fans on Twitter in general, though used to his antics, felt that this comment went too far. Inorder to protect of his athlete, his agent recommended that the account be deleted (removing thetweets in the process). Interestingly, Bissonnette‟s comment would have been very muchacceptable in the privacy of an on-ice taunt and likely would not have been disciplined. But oncetransported to the public sphere, outside the microcosm of professional hockey, it was no longerappropriate (Az Vibe, 2010). Bissonnette has since then rejoined Twitter under the handle@BizNasty2point0 (http://www.Twitter.com/BizNasty2point0) and now claims to be “filtered,”though it is unclear how this surveillance is executed, especially since his tweets still border oninappropriate at times (Johnston, 2010).
  18. 18. RINKSIDE TWEETING 18 The assumption is that the NHL, though it has yet to develop an official social mediaguide (Johnston, 2010), has educated its players on the dos and don‟ts of Twitter communication,once again playing its paternal role. Still, in order to fully benefit from the liberty Twitter offersthem, players need to practice self-discipline and use the technologies of self, not only in tryingto build a personal brand to ensure post-playing career opportunities (aesthetics of self) but alsoin determining what kind of content to share with the general public (ethics), both on thepersonal and professional levels. Athletes, therefore, are still limited in the quantity and qualityof information that they can reveal by the unspoken rules of life as an NHL player, or in otherwords, the power exerted by normalising discourses, as well as by the physical restrictions ofTwitter‟s 140-character limit per tweet, though one can use several tweets to express an opinion. However, because players can decide to reveal certain personal information about theirlives and lifestyles without threatening their relationship with the NHL, several athletes havedeveloped celebrity statuses that are unrelated to their on-ice performance, as was traditionallythe case. In other words, players like Bissonnette become famous for being famous (Boyle,2000). Additionally, players who do qualify as stars because of their hockey skills can potentiallyrise to superstardom through the use of social media tools like Twitter. Surprisingly, today‟s bignames in the NHL, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, have yet to embrace the technology,though Ovechkin did create a Twitter account (http://www.twitter.com/ovi8) which he usedintensively for two weeks around the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in which he was participating,even interacting with a few fans before abandoning the account once All-Star weekend was over.As per Foucault, their silence(s) and apparent lack of resistance are productions of knowledge inthemselves and can indeed be interpreted as a contribution to normalising discourses (1978).
  19. 19. RINKSIDE TWEETING 19 Perhaps the stakes are higher for the sport celebrity, especially when one considers thatthe athletes are commodities that, like stocks on the market, can see their value increase anddecrease arbitrarily, and can be traded or sold by their teams (Sage, 1998, p. 212). Hockeyplayers have long been viewed as role models and heroes in their local communities, but thecommodification of sport has enhanced the view of athletes as products, and essential parts of themachine of professional sport: docile bodies that have been shaped by their occupation of choice(Sage, 1998). Still, these docile bodies are productive, as they use their carefully crafted image toearn sponsorships and other related revenue on a personal level, and enhance the ability of theirteams, the league, and the mainstream media to earn advertising and other related revenue aswell (Kelly & Hickey, 2010). The use of social media is only one of the new demands,responsibilities and expectations that are constantly emerging, one more aspect of the identity ofa “professional athlete,” which is constantly in flux (Kelly & Hickey, 2010). These constantpressures, coupled with the constant observation of the athlete by the NHL and its fans, create anormalising pressure that encourages NHL players to not only conform to the dominantdiscourses but also, to be like one another (Shogan, 1999). Because the new information societyis characterised by instantaneous gratification, sports stars have come to be treated like otherNorth American celebrities in that their lives too have become a product to be consumed by fansand the general public alike (Horne, 2006). The fan, in order to build a complete image of his orher sports hero, craves lifestyle information pertaining to the NHL player, and “the star (offstage, screen, music or sport) becomes known not for what they did (performing extraordinarydeeds) but who they were, and what they were „like‟” (Horne, 2006, p. 79). Additionally, the sports celebrity has cross-promotional potential since NHL players areno longer just athletes but also entertainers, and the fans can read whatever they want into
  20. 20. RINKSIDE TWEETING 20branded stars like Sidney Crosby, for example, thereby enhancing the construction of the Crosbyphenomenon (Horne, 2006, p. 82). Consequently, NHL superstars appear in advertising that isbeyond the sporting domain and gives a wider visibility to professional hockey in the public eye,increasing the value of the sport, especially in ailing markets (Boyle, 2000). NHL players usingTwitter are therefore feeding the consumerist monster by providing their followers with insideinformation in an engaging fashion and filling the gaps left by mainstream media as the fansattempt to build their personal understanding of the athlete‟s personality and lifestyle (Horne,2006; Boyle, 2000). However, though the athletes are elevated to iconic status and lauded as rolemodels, the stereotypical roles prescribed to them rarely live up to expectations (Boyle, 2000).Fame, therefore, does come as a price, as athletes learn when the media, both traditional andnew/social, are quick to jump on their flaws and turn them from heroes to fallen angels andsometimes, villains of sorts, symbols of all that is wrong in the sporting industry (Boyle, 2000).For that reason, though NHL players seem to be the primary influencer of the power relationshipbetween them and their fans, their newfound power is still illusionary, as the fans can take backany power they had shifted the players‟ way when they decide the hero they had constructed isno longer worthy of their admiration. Moreover, sports fans often try to live through the athlete‟s experience, both on the iceand off the ice (Rein, Kotler, & Shields, 2006), and a player‟s personal failure is akin to abetrayal for the fans and therefore a way he unwittingly exerts power over them. When the teamloses, the fan feels the crushing agony of defeat; when the team wins, the fan feels the sameelation as the athlete (Quinn, 2009). This is especially true when NHL players tweet about theiremotional reactions to the game, particularly since this kind of information tends to get editedout of traditional media sport production due to time and space constraints. The player is
  21. 21. RINKSIDE TWEETING 21therefore inviting his fans into his heart and mind, and this access, while leaving him vulnerableto critiques, also strengthens his influence over the fans. As Boyle (2000) remarks, “theglobalization process that has transformed the organization of sport is also affecting the traditionalways in which media sport can be produced, delivered and consumed” (p. 220) and both athletes andfans are taking advantage of the gaps left by this change. Fans and athletes connect on various levels, depending on the former‟s level of commitmentto the sport, the league and the team. Before the rise of consumer sports, fans and athletes used to bemore closely associated. Professional play was one of the many forms of employment the athleteparticipated in, and most needed to work in other industries year-round in order to make ends meet.NHL players and their fans were therefore closer on an economic level as well as on a personal level(Quinn, 2009): Players were like “us” not an “other.” As player salaries increased, so did theseparation between the two groups. Though there is a general acceptance of the large sums of moneyprofessional hockey players now earn due to fans‟ greater understanding of market pressures andissues, the personal and personalised relationship between them has eroded (Quinn, 2009). Inembracing social media, the NHL is attempting to bridge the gap between its product and itsconsumers by reaching out to them on a personal level, implementing fan feedback mechanisms, andin a sense consulting the fans at certain levels of the decision-making process, even if it‟s simply bymore openly involving them in the market research stage (Leggio, 2010; Quinn, 2009, p. 196). Sowhile the fans greatly benefit from the speed and access provided by social media, the NHL stillcontrols the power relationship due to its superior economic and information management power. According to Rein et al. (2006), fans tend to connect with their sport of choice mainlythrough sports stars and geographic places, and on demographic and lifestyle levels (p.53). A sportsstar need not be a superstar player, but rather “someone or something that has the name and attractionpotential to connect fans” (Rein et al., 2006, p. 53). Of course, this most of the time refers to
  22. 22. RINKSIDE TWEETING 22hometown heroes that have been developed, promoted and “placed in proximity” to the fan (Rein etal., 2006, p. 53) through advertising that aims to represent the player as equal to his audience in termsof demographics and lifestyle, for example. But “stars” can also be athletic therapists, coaches, or theteam as a whole. Twitter allows any of these individuals to have a more accessible voice – in theteam‟s case, through a public relations staff member – and to develop and share their ownpersonalities, engaging the fans in the process. This personalisation of the experience is what turnssport supporters into fans and consumers (Quinn, 2009), and each converted fan strengthens theNHL‟s position of power. Twitter also eliminates the geographic restrictions in connecting throughcommunities since it not only expands the scope and reach of local communities but creates newcommunities that are connected through the Internet regardless of the physical location of itsconstituents. Long-distance fans are therefore instantly closer to their favourite teams, and aresubsequently more likely to increase their consumption of information and goods relating to theteam, even though they are still unlikely to attend one of their home games. However, through theestablishment of new communities, long-distance fans may be tempted to travel to a home game ifother members of their online fan community will be making the trip as well (Leggio, 2010). In otherwords, the globalisation of information has allowed for the creation of fan allegiances outside of thetraditional community understanding of hometown affiliation (Rein et al., 2006). In this sense,though the fans are empowered by the breaking down of barriers of association, the NHL once againsees its power increase due to the economic repercussions of the fan‟s empowerment. Indisputably, the Internet offers the fans unparalleled access to sports performers (Boyle,2000) but the converse is also true. Even though “active and interactive fans appear to be at theforefront of breaking down the distinction between production and consumption” by creating analternative sports communication system through the use of Twitter (Horne, 2006, p. 65), athletes arealso very interested in interacting with and getting to know their fans (Stever, 2009). This new
  23. 23. RINKSIDE TWEETING 23dynamic causes a dramatic power shift as the fans can now openly and directly exert the power oftheir opinions on the players and, more importantly, know that the message has been received,sometimes even get a response (See Figure 2). Their formerly marginalised voices are thereforeharder to ignore. However, “fans live in fear of being perceived as a stalker” (Stever, 2009, p. 10)and though Twitter is by nature an open intermediary, this sense of suspicion is reflected in thecautious interactions between fans and athletes and the slow embracing of the interactive nature ofthe technology by the athlete. Interestingly, the NHL and its athletes do not interact on Twitter,except for a team‟s occasional reference to their player by username rather than full name in a tweet.Perhaps it is a lack of understanding of the technology or a strategy by both the team and its playersto distance themselves from each other despite the obvious cross-promotional advantages ofinteracting. For the team, this could be seen as an assertion of authority: the team wants to prove thatit still controls the conversations about it and surrounding it. For the athletes, it may be a symbol ofthe lack of loyalty that athletes and teams now face in a commodified context or an attempt todistance themselves from their professional lives in order to express themselves as individuals intheir personal lives. It is therefore not surprising to see NHL players tweet amongst themselves,whether with former teammates or acquaintances on other teams or their current teammates. In fact,some teammates routinely engage in playful banter that occasionally causes their followers to worryabout the seriousness of the taunts. Others simply refer to their teammates by username whendiscussing dinner plans. Unless it is in a clearly light-hearted spirit, NHL players don‟t seem to tweetabout their professional lives in relation to other players. However, some players do use Twitter as apublic written record that contributes to the constitution of new knowledge and discourses, much likethe confessional power first implemented by Christianity and further enacted by the development ofadministrative records by sovereign authorities (Foucault et al., 2000, p. 166).
  24. 24. RINKSIDE TWEETING 24 In personalising their communications with the public, athletes are using the technologies ofself to strengthen their personal brands, but they are also making themselves vulnerable to the effectsof power. Indeed, other groups can use the knowledge revealed by the players to shift the balance ofpower (Markula & Pringle, 2007, p. 41). Through surveillance and disciplinary measures, tweetingNHL players are being held accountable for their tweets by other players (unintentionally revealingpersonal information a teammate may not want shared), by the league (unintentionally disclosingbehind-the-scenes information that may shatter the illusions perpetuated by dominant discourses), bythe team (accidentally revealing information that is traditionally shared through press releases orpress conferences before said information is released), and by themselves (self-censoring andattempting to stay true to their personality while filtering their content). The more control the athletehas on his message, the more responsible he becomes of its content and its impact. Additionally, fans are empowered by the athletes‟ Twitter revelations and are no longerafraid to exert their influence directly on their role models because this type of celebrity/followerinteraction has become normalised (Stever, 2009). As Crawford (2003) explains, life is a constantperformance for both athletes and fans: First, people spend a lot of time in the consumption of media, both privately and publicly. Second, the mass media and everyday life have become so closely interwoven that they are increasingly inseparable. Third, we are increasingly living in a narcissistic „performative society‟ where everyday mundane events become increasingly performative. Fourth, so ingrained are performances in everyday life that they become almost invisible and the distance between performer and audience becomes almost entirely removed. (p. 220)In other words, fans constantly crave information and the more NHL players share, the moreinformation the fans require to remain satisfied (Boyle, 2000, p. 220). As a result, the audience
  25. 25. RINKSIDE TWEETING 25becomes increasingly involved in the consumption of messages, either by producing their ownmessages or resisting to the messages related to them by traditional media (Crawford, 2003, 220). Indeed, the fans‟ constant craving for behind-the-scenes information from athletes createspoints of resistance for power groups who are trying to reintegrate the communications structure(traditional media), maintain their influence over the fans (the NHL) or interact directly with fans forthe first time (player agents and citizen media). For traditional media, having individual reporterstweet on behalf of the media corporation adds a personal voice to the reporting process and allowsfor a power shift back towards traditional media in its relationship with sports fans (See Figure 2).Since citizen media is new to the professional sports landscape, it capitalises on any opportunity toincrease its influence on other power groups and willingly fills the information gap left by athletes.Similarly, fans welcome direct interaction with player agents as they provide an additional layer ofinformation in their attempt to construct the players‟ identity in relation to their own (Horne, 2006).Furthermore, agents welcome any opportunity to enhance their clients‟ personal brands by tweetingabout them and, by extension, are tools in athletes‟ practice of the technologies of self. Indeed, inparticipating in the athletes‟ use of social media, whether by guiding them or through panopticsurveillance of their Twitter production, agents are exerting liberal power, as per Foucault‟sunderstanding of liberalism as aiming to secure the conditions under which the naturally occurringprocesses of professional sports (like the economy, for example) continue to the best effect (forplayers) despite state (or league) intervention (Hindness, 1996, p. 125). In other words, agentsattempt to regulate their clients‟ production through indirect means like education and eventually,normalisation, because athletes “cannot always be expected to have developed the thought andbehaviour habits of „free‟ and „independent‟ persons” (Hindness, 1996, p. 130) that are required inFoucault‟s view of power relations. In this sense, agents and the NHLPA truly are mediators in thepower relationship between the NHL and its athletes but now also have more influence on relevant
  26. 26. RINKSIDE TWEETING 26power groups outside this direct relationship, like the fans, who can then apply pressure to either sideand potentially integrate that power relationship as well (See Figure 2). For the fans, more sources of information enhances their feeling of empowerment and theillusion of resistance to traditional sovereign power sources like old media and, occasionally, theNHL. Indeed, NHL fans also benefit from Twitter‟s confessional ability, as their previouslymarginalised voices can reach more ears than ever and therefore are more powerful than ever (SeeFigure 2). By directly interacting with NHL players on their terms rather than waiting for animpromptu situation to present itself, fans can, to a certain extent, force athletes to act in certainways. To say that fans use power against another group would go against Foucault‟s primaryteaching of power as relational rather than a possession, yet this is effectively the result of certainaspects of the fan-athlete relationship (Markula & Pringle, 2007, p. 34). However, from aFoucauldian perspective, each form of human behaviour is subject to governance, and by usingTwitter, fans sometimes attempt to govern the actions of NHL athletes (Horne, 2006, p. 103). Thecase of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Dan Ellis illustrates this point brilliantly. Ellis, whoseTwitter style was usually similar to Bissonnette‟s though less controversial, deleted his account(http://www.twitter.com/33dellis) after backlash from fans following a tweet about the 18% escrowfee that NHL players see deducted from their paychecks as precautionary payment into the union-managed pension plan (Myers, 2010). Specifically, Ellis‟ remark, “I can honestly say that I am morestressed about money now than when I was in college” (Myers, 2010) caused his followers and NHLfans in general to reply by tweet with personal attacks and start a sarcastic meme that spread virallythrough Twitter under the tag “#DanEllisProblems,” implying that Ellis should not complain abouthis elite status (Myers, 2010). Once again, a perfectly valid comment within the confines of theprofessional hockey microcosm was deemed deplorable when shared with the general public, andthis time, it was the fans who used their power advantage in resisting to the “hero” discourse that
  27. 27. RINKSIDE TWEETING 27constructs professional hockey players like Ellis. The fans also used panoptic surveillance strategiesto detect the tweet in question, confessional power to alert the mainstream media (and the league,though its reaction remains unclear) to the controversy, and disciplinary tactics to punish Ellis for hisown use of resistance, confessional power, and, to a certain extent, the technologies of self that hehad increased his branding opportunities up until that point. The fans‟ freedom to respond and cause a reaction in this case, thereby shifting the balance ofpower, is empowering in itself. However, just like the athletes who through knowledge productionincrease the potential for other power groups to govern them, the fans production and consumption ofknowledge through resistance increases the opportunity for traditionally powerful groups tostrengthen their influence. In fact, NHL teams and especially the league willingly allow the fans‟power to grow because the fans unwittingly provide them with more information by “sounding offdirectly” to the NHL (Leggio, 2010). As a result, the league is presented with additional openings toperpetuate its normalising discourse and reinforce the belief that its voice is authentic bycommunicating with the fans through interactive tools like Twitter rather than at the fans throughtraditional fan-relations intermediaries (Leggio, 2010). Indeed, now that traditional media plays amore or less static role in the new power relations landscape of professional hockey in NorthAmerica, NHL teams stand to lose the most influence if they do not adapt to the interactivenature of new technologies like Twitter and accept that their role in the new media structure isconstantly changing, especially when it comes to their relationship with fans. However, it wouldnot be entirely accurate to understand the fans‟ and players‟ rise in power as completelyillusionary. These groups really do see their influence strengthen in various power relations butthis increase in potential is not yet enough to truly challenge the NHL‟s prevailing power.
  28. 28. RINKSIDE TWEETING 28 In conclusion, it is important to remember that Twitter is a new intermediary, not a newparticipant in the power relations landscape and is not influential in itself. Just as traditionalmedia helped power groups connect in the professional sports landscape before the developmentof more direct communication routes through the Internet, Twitter simply enables themanifestation of power in different forms. Since Foucauldian interpretations of power see it asconstantly in flux rather than a possession to be acquired by dominant power groups and appliedon others (Markula & Pringle, 2007) it is only by problematising the self and resisting to theirrole in the traditional power structure that groups can shift the balance of power in their favour. Thus, by examining the reasons various groups exert power on each other in thetraditional NHL context, the strategies and tactics they use to exert this power, and the kinds ofpower that are exerted by groups seeking to govern the actions of others, I was able to generate alaunching pad from which to analyse the new power relations in the NHL once athletes and othertraditional significant groups start using interactive social networking tools like Twitter. Theprimary effect of this direct and instant access to other power groups is the decline of theinfluence of traditionally dominant groups and the rise of typically marginalised voices inconsumer societies, and not just in terms of economic power. Little by little, fans and athletesembrace the new technologies and find points of resistance through which they can empowerthemselves and begin to counter the dominant discourses produced and perpetuated by the NHLand its teams as well as the mainstream media. However, as the analysis progresses, it becomes clear that the power that the fans andNHL players appear to have harnessed is deceptive in its representation as potent. In the fans‟case, the positive power shift essentially increases the NHL‟s opportunities to accumulateknowledge about its audience which it can then use to develop new strategies for perpetuating
  29. 29. RINKSIDE TWEETING 29the normalising discourses that both fans and players embrace and that, sooner or later, turnsimple supporters of the sport into fully committed fanatics who engage in participatory sportconsumption through the production and further perpetuation of the dominant discourses ofprofessional hockey in North America. In other words, though the fans try to resist the power ofthe NHL, any interaction with the sport simply continues to empower the NHL because theleague monopolises the professional hockey market. Similarly, though professional athletes are essential to the existence of the NHL, they arein essence no more than labourers whose skills can be traded or sold as commodities on the NHLmarketplace as their values rise and fall. Without players, there would be no sporting event andno product since it is athletes‟ performances that attract audiences and media, or, in other words,the financial stability needed to operate the teams and league. But, as Sage (1998) explains,“professional athletes do not own or control the means of producing their athletic labor becausethey have no access to professional sports leagues” except through the mechanisms of powercreated by the league (p. 212). Indeed, the NHL is an active cartel similar in function toFoucault‟s conception of the state and its use of institutions, or teams as extensions of itself.Truthfully, though teams govern their own day-to-day operations, they do not exert muchinfluence on the league as a whole unless individual owners resist to the normalising discourses,and are only marginally influential on local communities, especially now that professional sportshave become a globalised marketplace. Additionally, the rise of celebrity culture may have created distance between athletes andtheir fans as the former were socially constructed as heroes and role models, but interactivetechnologies like Twitter have once again narrowed the gap between the two groups, at timesshattering the illusion of NHL players as remarkable. In fact, despite the development of
  30. 30. RINKSIDE TWEETING 30strategies to resist the dominant power of the league like the creation of player agents and theNHLPA, in actuality, players are not more powerful than they used to be in the traditional powerstructure, at least in their relationship with the league. Still, the introduction of new media tools has created greater access to intermediaries likeTwitter that are not as regulated as their predecessors, allowing traditionally marginalised powergroups to interact directly and spread the messages they produce in an attempt to bettermanipulate their impact. However, the reality is that the influence of normalising discourses isgenerational and resisting to dominant power groups is a long-term process, the effects of whichwill not be seen at a societal level for quite some time. Nevertheless, this Foucauldianinterpretation of power relations in the new, social media landscape of professional hockey inNorth America may be useful in further detailing how fans and athletes can steadily increasetheir influence over the NHL through the use of instant interactive tools like Twitter andhopefully, the implications of this shift in the balance of power can be further developed fromthe perspective of disciplines like sports management, sports psychology, cultural studies and thesociology of sport in the future.
  31. 31. RINKSIDE TWEETING 31 ReferencesAz Vibe. (2010, July 10). “What to make of Paulbiznasty‟s (Coyotes Paul Bissonnette) disappearance from Twitter.” Retrieved January 11, 2011, from http://phoenix.fanster.com/2010/07/22/what-to-make-of-paulbiznasty%E2%80%99s- coyotes-paul-bissonnette-disappearance-from-twitter/Boyle, R. (2000). Power play: Sport, the media, and popular culture. New York: Longman.Citizen Media. (n.d.). Retrieved on January 11, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_mediaCrawford, G. (2003). The career of the sport supporter: The case of the Manchester Storm. Sociology, 37(2), 219-237. doi:10.1177/0038038503037002001Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Pantheon Books.Foucault, M. (1978). History of Sexuality. New York: Pantheon Books.Foucault, M. (1982). The subject and power. Critical Inquiry, 8(4), 777-795. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1343197Foucault, M. (1991) Governmentality. In Gordon C., Miller P., Burchell G. (Eds.) The Foucault effect : Studies in governmentality, with two lectures by and an interview with Michel Foucault. (pp. 87-104). London: Harvester Wheatsheaf Press.Foucault, M., Faubion, J. D., & Hurley, R. (2000). Power. New York: New Press.
  32. 32. RINKSIDE TWEETING 32Hindess, B. (1996). Discourses of power: From Hobbes to Foucault. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Horne, J. (2006). Sport in consumer culture. Basingstoke, UK ; New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.Johnston, C. (2010, November 11). Opportunity or threat? NHL talks social media. Canadian Press. Retrieved from http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/news;_ylt=AviGQxOZwjIIuFMi5k13M2RivLYF?slug=capress- hkn_trend-5096078Kelly, P. & Hickey, C. (2010). Professional identity in the global sports entertainment industry: Regulating the body, mind and soul of Australian Football League footballers. Journal of Sociology. 46(1), 27-44. doi: 10.1177/1440783309337671Leggio, J. (2010, September 21). 100 Brains: NHL‟s Michael DiLorenzo on social media and the 2010-2011 season. Social Business. Retrieved from http://www.zdnet.com/blog/feeds/100-brains-nhls-michael-dilorenzo-on-social-media-and- the-2010-2011-season/2994Markula, P., & Pringle, R. (2007). Foucault, sport and exercise: Power, knowledge and transforming the self. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved from http://lib.myilibrary.com.proxy.queensu.ca?ID=71523McHoul, A. W., & Grace, W. (1997). A Foucault primer: Discourse, power, and the subject. New York: New York University Press.
  33. 33. RINKSIDE TWEETING 33Myers, A. (2010, September 7). Dan Ellis Twitter fiasco: What the new Tampa Bay Lightning goalie should do. The Bleacher Report. Retrieved from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/453853-nhl-observations-from-the-dan-ellis-twitter-fiascoQuinn, K. G. (2009). Sports and their fans: The history, economics and culture of the relationship between spectator and sport. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.Rein, I. J., Kotler, P., & Shields, B. (2006). The elusive fan: Reinventing sports in a crowded marketplace. New York: McGraw-Hill.Robidoux, M. A. (2001). Men at play: A working understanding of professional hockey in Canada. Montreal: McGill-Queen‟s University Press.Sage, G. H. (1998). Power and ideology in American sport: A critical perspective. (2nd ed. ed.). Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.Shogan, D. A. (1999). Making of high-performance athletes: Discipline, diversity, and ethics. Toronto ; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press.Stever, G. S. (2009). Parasocial and social interaction with celebrities: classification of media fans. Journal of Media Psychology, 14(3)Widder, N. (2004) Foucault and power revisited. European Journal of Political Theory, 3(4), 432. doi:10.1177/1474885104045913World Hockey Association. (n.d.). Retrieved on January 11, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Hockey_Association
  34. 34. RINKSIDE TWEETING 34 Figure CaptionsFigure 1. Traditional power relations in the NHL (pre-social media)Figure 2. New power relations in the NHL (when athletes use Twitter)
  35. 35. RINKSIDE TWEETING 35 The NHL Traditional Media Fans League Team Players Agents/ NHLPA Legend One-way power Minimal one-way power Balanced two-way power Imbalanced two-way powerFigure 1. Traditional power relations in the NHL (pre-social media)
  36. 36. RINKSIDE TWEETING 36 The NHL Traditional Media Fans League Team Players Citizen Media Agents/ NHLPA Legend One-way power Minimal one-way power Balanced two-way power Imbalanced two-way powerFigure 2. New power relations in the NHL (when athletes use Twitter)

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