Professional Sport in Canada

Canada is a relatively young country, existing as a separate national and political entity only since 1867. As a result, its sporting traditions are relatively young as well. Most of the professional teams and leagues in Canada developed only in the last 30 years or so. However, athletes playing their respective sports for money dates back to the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  

Canada has six National Hockey League (NHL) teams, eight Canadian Football League (CFL) clubs, two Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs, and one National Basketball Association (NBA) team. There are also smaller professional soccer and lacrosse leagues in Canada. It is estimated that professional sports and leagues throughout the country contribute over $600 million in value to the country’s economy, and account for over 23,000 jobs.  

Of the professional sports, hockey has the longest history and the greatest cultural influence on Canadians. The NHL has been in existence since 1917; however, organized professional and amateur leagues existed in Canada long before then. Many small-town teams competed for local or provincial championships, and had a strong influence on those Canadians who had little access to, or knowledge of, big-city teams in Toronto or Montreal. In fact, it was not until NHL games were broadcast on the Canadian national radio “Hockey Night in Canada” radio broadcasts that many Canadians had experienced an NHL game. Indeed, despite the fact that the NHL was considered Canada’s most prestigious league, it was not until the advent of television in the 1950s that most Canadians had even seen an NHL game.
Today, all professional sport in Canada is in one way or another affected by the more powerful American leagues. In the sports of baseball and basketball, Canada has no professional leagues of its own. Instead, Canadian teams play in the American-dominated leagues. These leagues require a large concentrated audience in order to generate revenues for the team and, in turn, the league in general. As a result, the major team franchises exist in the large urban centres: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Even between those cities, the teams are not evenly spread. Probably the most famous teams in the American-dominated leagues are both Toronto teams: the “Blue Jays” in Major League Baseball and the “Raptors” in the National Basketball Association.  

Many Canadians worry that the American dominance of professional sport is a threat to Canadian independence. As an important component of national culture, sport reflects and reinforces the norms and values of Canada. However, the most sought-after and visible teams in Canada are ones in American-dominated leagues. Even the National Hockey League-once considered a secure Canadian sports icon-has its corporate offices in New York. Debates about the threat of American-dominated professional sport to Canadian sovereignty will undoubtedly continue in the future.

1 thought on “Professional Sport in Canada

  • relatively
    quite; when compared to others of the same kind: The exam was relatively easy. | a relatively warm day for the time of year | Relatively speaking it’s not important.


    something that has a single separate and independent existence: After the war Germany was divided and was no longer one political entity.
    The mind exists as a separate entity .
    Good design brings a house and garden together as a single entity .


    used before a plural noun to refer to the different things that belong to each separate person or thing mentioned
    of or for each one; particular and separate: The two friends said goodbye and went to their respective homes.
    We all went back to our respective homes to wait for news.
    the respective roles of teachers and students




    a game played on a field by two teams of ten players, in which each player has a long stick with a net on the end of it and uses this to throw, catch, and carry a small ball

    Why do we say:

    National Hockey League
    Football League
    but we say:

    League Baseball
    not Baseball League?

    In the U.S. we say baseball league all the time, but the trademarked names of the professional leagues focus on the first word (which you’ve omitted in your question): Major Leagues, American League, National League. The brand names use them as adjectival phrases modifying for the word “baseball.”
    Other leagues do the same thing with their names: Peewee League football, for example, or Babe Ruth baseball (without the word “league”). The name of the sport is often not part of their brand, and I think I’m correct in not capitalizing it in these two examples. The NFL uses National Football League but more often NFL Football as its brand.
    from: bfalls


    to give money, help, ideas etc to something that a lot of other people are also involved in
    contribute to/towards
    City employees cannot contribute to political campaigns.
    contribute something to/towards something
    The volunteers contribute their own time to the project.
    I contributed (a dollar) towards Jane’s leaving present.



    account for something phrasal verb
    to form a particular amount or part of something
    Afro-Americans account for 12% of the US population.


    admired as one of the best and most important
    a prestigious literary award
    a highly prestigious university
    a prestigious job



    the advent of something

    the time when something first begins to be widely used
    the advent of the computer
    the advent of computers changed the world  

    Another Source
    the arrival or coming of (an important event, period, invention, etc.):
    People are much better informed since the advent of television.

    (in) one way or another
    also one way or the other

    used to say that someone does or will do something somehow, although you are not sure how
    One way or the other he always seems to win.
    We’ll find the money, one way or another.


    controlled mostly by Americans


    showing a lot of effort
    He made a concentrated effort to improve his work.


    to produce or cause something
    ᅳsynonym createa useful technique for generating new ideasThe program would generate a lot of new jobs. generate revenue/profits/income etc Tourism generates income for local communities. generate excitement/interest/support etc The project generated enormous interest.


    money that a business or organization receives over a period of time, especially from selling goods or services
    ᅳsee also income

    advertising revenue
    Strikes have cost £20 million in lost revenues .

    in turn

    as a result of something
    Interest rates were cut and, in turn, share prices rose.


    American English
    a professional sports team


    relating to towns and cities
    ᅳopposite rural
    ᅳsee also suburb

    an unemployment in urban areas
    the deprived sections of the urban population


    divided in an equal way
    The profits will be split evenly between the three of us.
    Government ministers are fairly evenly divided on this issue.
    The prospects for the country are fairly evenly balanced between peaceful reform and revolution.


    the fact of being more powerful, more important, or more noticeable than other people or things
    ᅳsee also dominate
    dominance of
    the continuing dominance of the army in Uganda
    political/economic/cultural etc dominance
    the economic and political dominance of Western countries
    dominance over
    television’s dominance over other media

    Another Source

    the fact or position of dominating; importance, power, or controlling influence:
    Our dominance of the market is seriously threatened by this new product.


    any of the parts that together make a whole machine or system: the components/component parts of a camera | Revenues from oil are the biggest single component in the country’s income.
    companies that make electronic components for computer products
    component of
    each component of their work
    key/major/important etc component
    Exercise is one of the key components of a healthy lifestyle.


    to add strength or support to; make stronger or firmer: to reinforce the elbows of a jacket with leather patches | Their arguments are strongly reinforced by the latest trade figures. | Newspapers like this tend to reinforce people’s prejudices.

    Another Source

    to give support to an opinion, idea, or feeling, and make it stronger
    The film reinforces the idea that women should be pretty and dumb.


    generally accepted standards of social behaviour
    terrorists who violate the norms of civilized
    society social/cultural etc norms


    wanted or popular because of rarity or high quality:

    He’s one of the world’s most sought-after singers.
    much/highly sought-after

    a much sought-after defense lawyer
    By the mid-1920s, she had become one of Broadway’s most sought-after actresses.

    visible  adjective

    a lot of people notice them
    always appearing in public, on television, in the papers, etc.:
    highly visible politicians



    complete freedom and power to govern
    the sovereignty of Parliament
    sovereignty over
    Spain’s claim of sovereignty over the territory

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