Americans who follow sports often consider amateur sport inferior, by definition, to the skill level of professionals. This article argues that during the 1970s and 1980s, new competitions between amateur (mainly Soviet and Czechoslovakian) and professional (mostly Canadian and American) hockey teams demonstrated that the amateur game could be as skilled –or even more so – than the professional counterpart. The article considers the problematic nature of “amateurism,” international rules changes that made possible the new amateur-vs.-professional competitions, and the results of some of these Cold War confrontations. It concludes with consideration of the relative merits of styles of play oriented around physicality and puck possession.



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