Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Underthinking Sport: Field Hockey

I was watching the field hockey last night, and I couldn't really get into it. There are a lot of issues in this sport that I think detract from it as a spectacle.
I am going to highlight the main ones that concern me.

1/. Stick too short

The main problem with the sport of field hockey is that they have these stupidly short sticks. I mean if you ever watch a game of field hockey you see all these guys running around all hunched over, who invented these ridiculously short sticks?

Fredrick Ramos - Chief Designer of Field Hockey Sticks
Why don't they just get longer sticks? It looks like a bunch of hunchbacks running around the field...

Quasimodo was actually the Fullback of the Notre Dame team.

 I don't know if you have ever run around all hunched over but its not exactly comfortable, in saying that old people seem to walk like that all the time and they like to be comfortable, that's why they always have a rug and a Thermos

After knocking back the contents of her Thermos Gladys gets comfy with her rug

2/. Playing the ball restrictions

So not only are you lumped with a stick that is too short for you, you can only use one side of it. Now this one I don't have to much of a problem with because adds a bit of skill element to it, you know reversing the stick and all that.
But they only make right-handed sticks! that's right if you are left handed and want to play field hockey you are screwed.

"Dear Mum, today teacher told me I couldn't play field hockey, I don't know why...."

Okay so no left-handers big deal you say I am one of the majority of the world that uses my right hand, but then you can't use your feet. Now again I guess I don't mind the no intentional playing with your feet, but you can't even accidentally let the ball touch your feet otherwise its a penalty. Why is this if the idiot hitting the ball can't miss your feet when he is shooting then he doesn't deserve a goal, the net he is shooting at is 7ft by 12ft. If he can't get the ball in that without hitting your size 10's he is not very good at this sport. Although could lead to some tactical selections if this rule was relaxed.

Fred never did know why he kept getting picked first....

3/. Scoring restrictions.

Okay so they restrict how you play the ball that's not so bad, stopping you score is what really get up my goat.

My goat Artemis
Firstly you they have this little circle that you have to be inside to score, this circle isn't a third of the field or anything crazy like that. No this circle is 14.63 meter radius from the centre of the goal. Just a bit of simple maths here, the field is 91.4 * 55m so 5027 sq metres of real estate you can run around on. But you can only score if some in the scoring circle touches the ball, this scoring circle area is only 336 sq metres. This represents a mere 6.6% of the the total playing surface.

Why make scoring only possible from this small of the area? Are all field hockey goalies short sighted? Do they require the player to be that close before they can see where the ball is coming from?

Gregor Smit - Worlds Number 1 field hockey goalie.

4/. Too heavy a waiting on penalty corners

 By combining this small scoring area with the fact you have have 10 players on the field, you see many teams just fill this zone up with defensive players, making it difficult to score.

That's right Punk, try and score now.
 But remembering the no foot contact, smart players don't even aim at the net they just aim at somebody's foot so that they get a penalty corner.
I maybe wrong, maybe I have watched peculiar games, but it seems to me pretty much 70-80% of the goals get scored from the penalty corners at the top level, and there are very few open play goals.

Penalty corners are fine I guess, and I know they have little variations but if you hit the ball, surprise surprise there are more restrictions on your scoring, the first shot has to be below 460 mm. This is because field hockey players wear no protection except for some little shin guards

"Mom, these don't seem to offer much facial or groinal protection"

However if you use a drag flick, there are no height restrictions, so essentially most of the goals you see in field hockey are of this variety, which makes most field hockey seem similar and repetitive to me.

And you know what I don't think I am the only one, the way to truly measure the popularity of a sport in terms of spectators are the existence of a professional league. This means that people are willing to part money to watch the sport.
Below is a link to a list of worldwide professional sports leagues see leagues for obvious Football, Basketball, Auto racing etc, and the obscure Paintball.

But I am not going to argue with this guy that it's not a sport

If you check the list you go hang on, there is field hockey on that list, yes there is but only one league the Premier Hockey League of India (PHL), but that is a defunct league at that. This means that they couldn't find enough people to watch the sport.

The crowd at the PHL were made up of people who thought they had tickets to the IPL

Now having complained about this sport this entire post, there is one thing that field hockey is not underthinking and that is the reason the womens game at the very least, won't disappear...

"Oh hi there..."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. yes well i hope you write underthoughts on other sports as well..

    you mentioned you played ice hockey in one of your earlier blogs, and if you do not follow through with also exposing underthinking in other sports its going to be hard no to believe you are merely using this medium to bolster your own sporting prowess.. what im saying is, dont pick on "field" hockey Az, their backs are sore enough from having to run around bent over there short one-way only sticks..

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