Engaging with the historiography of sport diffusion, and taking two major sports as divergent case studies, this essay explores the process of discursive stabilization that drew upon a broad complex of social and cultural antecedents. While more generalized organizational and institutional factors were important influences on the contrasting evolutions of cricket and ice hockey in Canada’s Maritime provinces during a period of intense social and economic change, nevertheless the emergence of each sport had a profoundly cultural and discursive character. The two sports had affinities in their organizational development but differed both in their negotiation of social differentiation and in the surrounding discourses that developed. In historical and historiographical contexts, both sports demonstrate the crucial influence of societal complexity and local agency in shaping the patterns by which any sport is diffused.

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