“Soul on Ice”: The NHL, Hockey Culture, and Black Commodification


The National Hockey League (NHL) has a long-standing, problematic relationship with race. The North American sporting and racial climate have brought even more attention to this reality. A notable tactic to counter the accusation of reinforcing racism within sports corporations, including the NHL, is publicly associating themselves with minority organizations. This often occurs through formal partnerships or the acquisition of minority-founded entities, initiatives, and organizations. This paper considers how salient discourses of race and blackness are articulated by the hosts and contributors of NHL Studio’s Soul on Ice: The Podcast (SOIP) as an acquired NHL entity. The NHL aims to reposition itself on issues of race and the portrayal of Black members within hockey through SOIP. The podcast gives a platform to empower Black voices within White hockey culture but also problematically enmeshes the NHL within the commodification of black culture and hardship. The acquisition of SOIP by the NHL is used to sanitize and shield the league while reinforcing the normative Whiteness of hockey. Further, the consequences of the leagues’ commodification of blackness and the nuanced experiences of Black NHL players and community members shared via the podcast are unpacked.


Benjamin Burroughs
Associate Professor, Journalism and Media Studies, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—The Impact of Professional Sport on Community


Hockey, NHL, Black Commodification, Race, Podcasting, Sports media industries

Digital Media

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