Serious leisure, prosumption and the digital sport media economy: a case study of ice hockey blogging
Introduction: ice hockey blogging and serious leisure The emergence and widespread adoption of digital media technologies has had a profound impact on the ways in which professional sport is produced and consumed. One major change brought by this new ‘networked media sport’ (Hutchins and Rowe, 2012: 5) is the proliferation of sport blogs, many of which are produced by amateur fans rather than by professional journalists. Although sport fan-produced media, such as football ‘fanzines’ (Haynes, 1995), have a history pre-dating widespread adoption of the internet, sport blogs are unique in their ease of production and distribution to a potentially global audience. Scholars have analysed sport blogs from a variety of angles, from their role in the media production of sport mega-events (Dart, 2009; Hutchins and Mikosza, 2010; Hutchins and Rowe, 2012) to their representation of gender and race (Antunovic and Hardin, 2013; McGovern, 2015). This chapter builds on existing analyses of sport blogging by situating it as a serious leisure practice (Stebbins, 1992, 2007), an approach that sheds light on both the dedication of amateur bloggers and the complex intersection of new media, social issues and sport fandom. This chapter uses the case study of bloggers who write about the sport of ice hockey (hereafter hockey), and specifically the National Hockey League (NHL) and its Canadian and American teams. In North America, hockey is deeply intertwined with issues of national and regional identity, commercialism, race and gender (Gruneau and Whitson, 1993). Hockey bloggers operate within these complex intersections, sometimes helping to re-create problematic aspects of hockey culture and other times challenging them (cf. Norman, 2014; Norman et al., 2015). As such, their blogging is not neutral and must be understood in its wider context. While the scope and complexity of these issues is too great to adequately address in this chapter, some of them are discussed in more depth as they relate to hockey blogging as a serious leisure practice. Following a brief introduction to the serious leisure framework (Stebbins, 1992, 2007), this chapter discusses the methods and case study employed in this research. The bulk of the chapter is devoted to an analysis of hockey blogging as a serious leisure practice, drawing upon the framework developed by Stebbins (1992) to explore important characteristics of the activity. It then engages briefly
in a discussion of the political economy of hockey blogging and its status as both a popular leisure practice and a potentially exploitative component of the digital sport media landscape (Dart, 2014; Hutchins and Rowe, 2012), drawing for analysis upon Ritzer and Jurgenson’s (2010) conceptualisation of ‘prosumption’ as an accelerating feature of the online economy. The chapter then concludes by suggesting future areas for research on sports blogging and serious leisure.