USA Field Hockey Weekly Report-Week of August 22, 2011

Aug. 23, 2011, 4:43 p.m. (ET)
Ed
 USA Field Hockey has reached a new milestone. The 20,000th USA Field Hockey member was recorded, and it is a 10 year old from Greene, New York. Skylar Gilmore is our 20,000th member. If you would like to learn more about Skylar, her goals and how she got started in the sport, be sure to read her story on our website: http://www.usafieldhockey.com/ (but, only after you have read the weekly report).
On August 10, USA Field Hockey, in collaboration with the United States Olympic Committee, presented a live broadcast of the 2011 National Rules Briefing. This is the second time that USA Field Hockey has provided the briefing to a nationwide audience.
 

The briefing was written by Steve Horgan, who also served as the presenter, and directed by Cris Maloney.

Although registration was not required, 866 people registered to watch the live webcast. Based on survey results, approximately 70% of the viewers were umpires, 20% coaches, and 10% players.

A recording of the 2011 NRB is now available online for viewing at any time. Just go to USAFieldHockey.com/AsktheUmpire or link to it now by clicking here.  For a limited time, the link to the video will be available on USA Field Hockey's home page. Throughout the hockey season, we plan to present short rules clarifications if applicable.  We will continue to communicate this through Weekly Reports and directly through emails to our umpire and coach members. 

 

In an effort to ensure our interpretations are consistent, please go to USAFieldHockey.com/AsktheUmpire with your questions.  

The time of year for the opening of schools has rolled around again.
Schools are back into play, and a robust field hockey season for high school (maybe even some middle schools) and certainly college level play is commencing. USA Field Hockey wishes everyone a safe and wonderful new season. Everyone includes athletes, coaches, umpires, moms and dads, and all the spectators who love the game.
 
In last week’s report, the topic of the recent National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) mandatory requirement to wear protective goggles whilst in competition was re-discussed. The NFHS is the association that almost all state athletic associations belong and is a clearinghouse for rules applicable to sports played in high school. From time to time, its rules run counter to those of the FIH, the sport’s international governing body, which USA Field Hockey, the sport’s national governing body, follow, and, incidentally, as do the other 143 countries who play field hockey. The NFHS goggle ruling is one of those cases in which the FIH rules (the same as the USA Field Hockey rules) and the NFHS rules are completely dissimilar. To clarify, the NFHS require the use of ATSM goggles for Field Hockey at all times, the FIH allow goggles only for medical reasons and USA Field Hockey allow goggles (wire goggles are not allowed only polycarbonate) use at the athlete’s discretion.
 
As a follow-up to last week, I thought you might have an interest in a thumbnail of the results from the survey we conducted regarding the mandatory use of goggles for the high school game. By the way, the survey is still open, and if you would like to offer up your opinion…be it pro or con…regarding the use of goggles you can do so by clicking here.

The respondents to the survey are overwhelmingly not in support of this decision (84% not in support). Interestingly, when you dig a bit deeper, coaches, officials and players are even stronger in their lack of support of the decision (90% are not in support). That is perhaps an indication that with more experience and direct involvement in the game the opposition to protective eyewear increases.

Perhaps most intriguing is that when a measure is introduced to improve safety, you would think that there would be those in support that would anticipate improved safety and those not in support who would anticipate no improvement in safety. This is not the case with this initiative. What is truly startling is that 69% believe this measure actually makes the sport more dangerous. This is truly a concern and one we will be voicing strongly with the NFHS.

Here are some sample comments, from the 496 that we received, that are representative of the various opinions:

The shock and disdain felt from the FIH and countries around the world is concerning, and honestly, quite embarrassing for the USA, especially the NFHS. Goggles, in particular the metal eye cages, are very dangerous to other opponents and could cause serious injury in an impact between two heads. It also encourages players to make tackles from inappropriate positions and go to the ground, as they feel safe wearing their mask. I hope the NFHS sees to reverse this rule as quickly as possible; for the sake of the sport in our country, and the safety of our players.

Thank you for your vigilance in this matter. This is a decision that we as parents and coaches are very disturbed about. This is a sport where the ball is played on the ground (as opposed to lacrosse where the ball is in the air) and caught in nets near and around the face and head. Yes, injuries do occur, but the decision to use the goggles should be left to the player (coach/family). Parents and players have to accept a certain amount of responsibility when a decision is made to play a particular sport and also regarding the use of this protective eyewear. Also, umpires must control games (in the event that can be a contributing cause of injury of any type). Most injuries are accidental. If parents or players don't want to realize the risks for what they are, they shouldn't play the game.

I can't believe that we place barriers like this to participation in a sport; the benefits to be gained by greater participation must outweigh the perceived increase in safety through goggles ten times over. No activity is risk free, but we can't wrap people in cotton wool, I believe this will decrease participation in the sport! It is a sad day when the potential of litigation outweighs common sense!

The wearing of goggles should be the choice of the player and their parents.

I think anything we can do to protect players is a good thing. This should have been implemented a long time ago. We have done so much to enhance the equipment used today which has increased the player’s power & the ball speed but have done nothing to enhance player's safety.
 
In addition to a complete lack of data supporting the decision, NFHS has not allowed any time for manufacturers' to establish and comply with an appropriate ASTM standard; NFHS has not allowed any time for programs to prepare budgets for compliance; NFHS has not educated it's public around the decision points, NFHS has gone completely against all other governing bodies in the sport in making this decision; NFHS has presented the umpiring community with a "no win" situation by not completing it's own decision process and leaving State Associations with latitude on a portion of the new mandate (therefore no time to train umpires who work in multiple jurisdictions). This appears to be among the worst of the decisions that NFHS has made in many, many, many years!
 
The total survey results can be read here.
 

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: “A new study found that 20 percent of Internet time is spent on social networking sites. While the other 80 percent is spent hiding a Facebook window behind Excel.”

Have a great week!

 
 
Steve Locke
Executive Director
USA Field 
Hockey