Hockey is a global sport with a global audience, but it wasn’t always that way.
Since the “Miracle on Ice” in Lake Placid, a hockey fan has often listened to the sport; he has written a book about its history, development and global reach. The fastest game in the world: hockey and the globalization of sport, by Midwestern-born author Bruce Berglund, examines the sport’s humble beginnings on the icy northern ponds to its modern global following.
The book focuses on politics, economics and culture through the prism of the development of hockey over the past century, not the stories of great teams and great players (although references are made throughout of the book). Hockey is considered an overlooked sport in the shadow of football, baseball, basketball and soccer, but it has nonetheless become a global phenomenon, thanks to the dedication of its players and fans.
The evolution of hockey began with different names for the game, most often “bandy”. It was played on the frozen northern ponds during the “Little Ice Age” of the 1800s with whatever was available. Sometimes bandy players would use curved branches and hit around a ball, piece of wood, or other projectiles. Over time, the game evolved to be called “hockey” and was played with curved, shaped sticks and a rubber puck.
The leagues we know today weren’t created until the early 1900s, with the International Professional Hockey League, formed in Ontario and eventually centered in Houghton, MI with teams like the Calumet Miners. The creation of the National Hockey League began with its inaugural season in 1917.
Today, according to the International Ice Hockey Federation, hockey is played in around 80 countries around the world and was recently highlighted during the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Listen to Kurt Hauswirth in conversation with Bruce Berglund:
A conversation with author Bruce Berglund
The fastest game in the world: hockey and the globalization of sport is available through University of California Press, on Audible, and at your local bookstore.