This is another big week as I head off to the San Diego area and the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center on Tuesday and Wednesday. The week begins the Test Series between the Chinese and Dutch women's teams as they face the US Women's Team and each other. The Chinese and Dutch were the gold and silver medalists respectively for the Beijing Olympic Games so USA Field Hockey Technical Director of High Performance Terry Walsh has attracted pretty stalwart competition. I am anxious to see how we stack up. You will be able to follow the US Women's Team progress on www.usafieldhockey.com as USA Field Hockey Communications Director Jeff Gamza provides regular updates.
There are several reasons for this trip. A big one is to meet the women's team members, the entire Chula Vista based high performance group and to spend some quality time with Terry. High Performance Programs can be fragile as people only remember recent successes...or failures. So, it is a lot about "what have you done for me lately...", and has much to do with constancy in training and in constancy of teammates. High Performance requires a great deal of preparation, planning, and strategizing to be successful internationally. Typically within any sport, international competition is an elevation in intensity when compared against pure domestic competition (this is seen in almost every country and in every sport). So, preparations done properly are excruciatingly exacting. And so, I am impressed with Terry's program as the evidence of program success is measurably on an upward swing. This is big deal stuff, and a crucial element to growth of field hockey in the USA. I hope you stay abreast of the competitions throughout this week.
Bear in mind that the purpose of the USA Field Hockey Executive Director's Weekly Report is multifold. One reason is to bring to your attention both the good and not so good news dealing with USA Field Hockey. You are fully entitled to know what goes on in your organization on a timely basis. The second is to bring forth ideas so we can bat them about to see if they make sense. I did a little of that last week when I asked for your help in identifying interesting people of the sport so USA Field Hockey can highlight those folks in niche publications and websites. Several people responded to that call and it would be great to receive more input. For example, do you know of people playing field hockey and starring in a Broadway musical, or say, playing backup for Lady GaGa? Those and other circumstances are typical of interest hooks editors seek. The help in identifying people of interest so we can attempt placement in magazines/websites will drive growth in the sport. Mainstream people are always attracted to something by people involved in that something who are interesting, and that they would want to emulate. If you know of anyone, please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
It seems we speak frequently of elite level athletes and the programs that revolve around them within USA Field Hockey. But, there must be a recreational element as well. It seems we have made limited efforts of involvement with the recreational side of the sport. Most sports with membership within the United States Olympic Committee have a sizable recreational side. In fact, some of the criticism arising out of those groups often delves into too much investment on the elite side instead of the recreational group that represents the majority of the membership. There will always be those sorts of differing points of view.
But, back to field hockey and what USA Field Hockey should be doing ..or not. A limiter in this sport is locating places to play and then identifying event producers (producers can be clubs, coaches or just interested entrepreneurial types). I am told that in pockets throughout the USA we see event production taking place to provide playing opportunities. But, those pockets are few and far between. I wonder why. I understand from various sources that a key in enlarging the field hockey recreational base is through colleges and high schools (especially those with turf fields.., but in the same breath I am told that often athletic directors don't want intramural or outside use because of liability and insurance issues ... and, by the way, those issues are easily remedied). Is it that we are too picky on finding venues (do we demand turf so the balls roll true?)? If grass fields were used, would that be adequate to provide for a grassroots effort? Are soccer fields widespread enough and available enough to accommodate field hockey? Should we get underway as an NGB to provide a program of sanctioning (not necessarily of USA Field Hockey owned events, but rather of events created by entrepreneurs) as a provider of services to event producers so event producers receive top notch insurance protection, and other budget relieving products. I would enjoy hearing your perspective (email@example.com). And, just so you know, in the event it is perceived to be a valuable effort, we are currently investigating elements of a potential program that could bring viable business benefit to event producers while at the same time increasing the numbers of people playing field hockey.
On a slightly different topic; drugs in sport. Below is a quote I picked up last week out of the Sports Business Journal. It is a sad commentary, but, hopefully, through media exposure and other methods, it is a problem that is slowly being eradicated. I am not naive enough to think that we will ever have total elimination of this form of cheating, but we seem to be progressing positively toward lesser use.
Quote from the Sports Business Journal:
"Spare us the lies about taking 'roids for health reasons. We're all grownups. You took stuff for the same reason most of us break or bend rules: you thought you could get away with it, and you did. You did because Commissioner Bud, being Bud, was of course asleep at the switch when you suddenly grew Shrek-like necks and bloated biceps. But even Bud is selling absolution ... There may be no crying in baseball, but there is forgiveness."
-- HBO's Bryant Gumbel, addressing Mark McGwire's apology in an open letter to former MLB players who have admitted to taking PEDs
And, the late night quote of the week:
From NBC's Jay Leno Show: According to The New York Times, an 8-year-old boy is on the terrorism watch list because he has the same name as someone on the no-fly list. His mom says he's been on the no-fly list since he was 2 years old. But to be fair, how many fliers would like to see all 2-year-olds on the no-fly list
Have a great week!