Staking Claims and Taking Place: The Sounds of Football in Canada’s Capital

Video of Jordan William Zalis  (Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada) of his presentation at the Football, Politics and Popular Culture conference, Limerick (2017).

Below is Jordan’s abstract for the conference.

Sound and music are fundamental to the lived experience of football. Typically, the sounds and musics of professional football are created by and for groups of passionate fans and spread through the crowd, linking tens of thousands of people in group-song, where the repertoire resides in a collective consciousness. While professional football is gaining popularity in Canada, Canadian sports fans are accustomed to a soundscape primarily composed of popular music mediated through loudspeakers, which is at odds with the sonic traditions that customarily surround the sport, in a global sense. Since 2014, two grassroots supporters’ groups from Ottawa, The Stony Monday Riot and the Bytown Boys, have convinced the owners and operators of the Ottawa Fury FC to cancel the usual popular music and to allow the two groups to create football’s soundtrack through acoustic means. This has resulted in the invention of a distinct sonic tradition for football in Ottawa. The sonic dimension is hotly contested, however, and brings layers of paradox and politics into the celebrations that surround the sport. What was once an arena for free expression has become a stage for division, inter- and intra-group politics, and the resistance of the sonic diktat of North American sport. Drawing on my fieldwork with the Stony Monday Riot and building on Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on the dialogic imagination (1986) and Hobsbawm and Ranger’s notion of invented tradition (1983), this paper examines the intersections of tradition, position, and place in Ottawa’s football stadium to comment on plurality and politics.

Jordan is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at Memorial University in Newfoundland,
Canada. His research examines community and identity through sport, music, and related transnational media in North America and the Caribbean. When not in the field, Jordan enjoys composing and performing original music and retro cool jazz.

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