Lesson #5: Hockey Creates Feedback Loops

This post is part of a series I’m writing about lessons that Music-in-Canada can learn from Hockey-in-Canada.

Here’s #5:

Hockey Creates Feedback Loops

Hockey culture in Canada is one giant feedback loop.

When I was a kid, I remember skating at Maple Leaf Gardens when it was made available for a public skate.  Imagine my wonder, as a ten year old!  I was allowed to participate in the world of my hockey heroes.

This event was initiated because of feedback from millions of fans like me.  It was a gesture, a token of appreciation.  It was meant to say: “Thanks for supporting the Maple Leafs.”

In response, fans come to appreciate the Leafs and the hockey community on a deeper level.  They return the favour by continuing their support, and on, and on.

This is a subtle example of a larger system at work:  People want hockey; hockey is for the people (and vise-versa).  It’s a simple but powerful feedback loop.

How do you initiate this loop?

It starts with a gift – if given unselfishly and if received positively, receivers will show appreciation and give back.

I’ve been on stages where I could feel that I had everybody’s undivided attention; I had earned their trust.  So I dug deeper, took more risks and tried to give more.  Once I asked my friend to listen to a track from my favourite record.  He responded positively and played me one of his favourite tracks.  This went on and on…These are beautiful moments.

In order to have a strong cultural presence – like hockey in Canada – these moments of unselfish giving must be natural and customary.  They also must be present on every level from individuals exchanging with individuals, communities with other communities and professional organizations with fans and supporters.

Here’s another subtle example: It always impresses me that athletes allow themselves to be interviewed immediately after playing.  They’re dripping in sweat, catching their breath and an interviewer asks them to share their views about the game.  I’m sure they’d prefer to go straight to the dressing room.

But they do it.  They’re expected to do it; it’s built into the job description.  It’s all part of giving and receiving and the cultural feedback loop.

Leave a Reply