Criminology 321 - Qualitative Research Methods:
A Qualitative Cross-Check of Hockey Violence
Ice hockey in North America has over a century of notoriety for its physical and aggressive behaviour beyond the normal rules of the game; a style of play that would normally be considered violent or unlawful when conducted off-ice. When compared to similar contact sports (i.e.: football, rugby, lacrosse), professional hockey is the only sport that condones fighting; emphasized by the fact that fighting at the professional level is merely a penalty (Pappas et al, 2004, p.301), not a game ejection. However, sometimes the on-ice male aggression is carried off the ice – away from the game. Many athletes, in particular hockey players, have been highlighted in the media for their physical display of violence (i.e.: fighting other men) and have obtained an abusive and misogynistic reputation towards women (Pappas et al, 2004, p.291).
The purpose of this paper will evaluate the qualitative study, Athlete Aggression on the Rink and off the Ice: Athlete Violence and Aggression in Hockey and Interpersonal Relationships, by Nick T. Papas, Patrick C. McKenry and Beth Skilken Catlett (2004) in an attempt to recognize the rhythm of qualitative research design; to become familiar with reading and making sense of published qualitative studies (course assignment). I will address various pre-determined questions as outlined in the research assignment and conclude with my own perspective on this type of qualitative research.
My Background in Hockey
The first author maintains an “extensive involvement in the culture of ice hockey” much like my own (Pappas et al, 2004, p.297). With over thirty years of hockey experience, my views of the sport favour the aggressive style of the game; with a perspective of violence that usually differs from those who have not played hockey. Where most outsiders see violence, I see aggressive plays. However, this paper will attempt to keep a balanced perspective of the study and the subject of violence pertaining to hockey players.
The Game Plan
The researchers begin by using a method of subjectivism to correlate, or cross-check, various quantitative and qualitative studies of violence in ice hockey, including off-ice incidents, through qualitative observations from the perspective of veteran players or social actors (Eriksson & Kovalainen, 2008, p.15). The research method intends to reveal objective truths (class notes) to the accusation that hockey breeds violent people, that they are especially violent off the ice, and that they are violent within interpersonal relationships (Pappas et al, 2004, p.291). The study also raises concerns about the off-ice violence conducted by athletes and the sexual aggression they impose on women (Pappas et al, 2004, p.292) – a serious topic that should be addressed, especially when older players influence young children learning how to play the game.
The research is primarily an exploratory attempt; “to explore the causes and/or consequences” (Eriksson & Kovalainen, 2008, p. 27), and to learn more about the violent behaviour of hockey players from the perspective of those who play the game.
Based on the testimonies of five informants, the study used five prearranged questions and subsequent branching questions (Pappas et al, 2004, p.297) that was directed by structured interviews, audiotaped, and transcribed. The transcription was then analyzed and “conducted by two independent coders” (Pappas et al, 2004, p.298) to give special labels to their empirical data (Eriksson & Kovalainen, 2008, p. 128).
The informants were veteran hockey players who had an intimate insider’s view of the game – four of which were previously coached by the interviewer; one informant was a referral (Pappas et al, 2004, p.297). The strength of the sampling procedure is because most of the participants know researcher; offering a sense of trust that provided the...
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