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The state and Canadian cultural nationalism: protecting Canadian football

Faculty Advisor




Canadian football, cultural nationalism, state protection, US cultural influence, post-WWII Canada

Abstract (summary)

In 1974, Canada’s Liberal minority government introduced a bill designed to protect the Canadian Football League (CFL) from competition. It threatened jail for anyone who operated a football team in Canada having any connection with an American team or league. A particular conjuncture of factors prompted the government to act according to the rationale that protecting the CFL was critical to the national interest. Canadian football had become an identity marker that nationalists used to define the country and differentiate it from other nations. In the 1960s, post-war Canadian nationalism heightened concerns about Americanization as well as Quebec separatism. It also brought increasing state intervention, including cultural policies that grew in scope as they became more populist, from a government in a minority position facing a national unity crisis. In this research, the government’s unprecedented intervention is explained, by contextualizing it historically within the cultural, economic, and political conditions of the time. When the Canadian Football League, a national sporting league that represented the nation, began to struggle, the stage was set for the most significant government intervention in the area of Canadian professional sport to date.

Publication Information

Valentine, J. (2021). The State and Canadian Cultural Nationalism: Protecting Canadian Football. International Journal of the History of Sport, 38(12), 1189–1209.


Item Type

Article Post-Print



Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)