Crossing the Line: Violence and Sexual Assault in Canada's National Sport

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McClelland & Stewart, 1998 - Social Science - 254 pages
The world of junior and professional hockey will never be the same since Sheldon Kennedy of the Boston Bruins revealed that, while a junior player with the Swift Current Broncos, he was molested more than 300 times by his coach, Graham James. This revelation, and James's subsequent conviction, has thrown a spotlight on the other Hockey Night in Canada, where abuse of and by young players is appallingly common.
In Crossing the Line, Laura Robinson takes an unflinching look at abuse in junior hockey, the breeding ground for the NHL. She explains how this great sport has gone so bad, and challenges those who are a part of the world of hockey to rethink the game and consider ways to fix it.
The abuse takes many forms. It may be overtly sexual. It may be an overwhelming pressure on players - removed from the support of their families and often living far from home - to perform and to fit in. It often takes the form of degrading hazing rituals, many of which have violent sexual overtones, designed to take the players beyond their inhibitions and the normal limits of their aggression.
Robinson shows how the institutionalized abuse in hockey turns the players themselves into abusers. Yet when accusations are levelled against the players, team managers and owners rally around to protect them, applying pressure to have the charges dropped or the accuser discredited.
Junior hockey and the NHL are arenas for the display of what we consider to be ideal manhood. In Crossing the Line, Laura Robinson shows how damaging it can be when the participants in this often violent spectacle are unleashed on the real world.

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About the author (1998)

Laura Robinson is a freelance journalist whose work on sports and gender issues has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Canadian Living, Toronto Life, Saturday Night, and Ms. magazine. She has also produced, written, and researched items for CBC Radio, CBC Television, TSN, the Women’s Television Network, and the National Film Board. In 1996 she worked with the CBC’s the fifth estate to produce the documentary “Thin Ice,” which looked at initiations and sexual abuse in junior hockey. When it aired, the program had a record 1.4 million viewers.

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