A press release from the National Federation of State High School Associations released today has announced that eyewear has been made mandatory for scholastic field hockey players nationwide beginning with the start of the 2011 season. Reaction has been swift and negative around the country.
“Oh, my,” said Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) field hockey coach Julie Swain. “Something must have triggered that.”
“You’re kidding me,” says Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) field hockey coach Karen Klassner, former president of the Pennsylvania Field Hockey Coaches’ Association. “Wow. This came all of a sudden.”
Almost too sudden to be lawful, according to information obtained by TopOfTheCircle.com. According to two sources, the NFHS field hockey rules committee voted 9-0 against eyewear. Normally, the vote would be adopted by the NFHS Board of Directors, but in a reversal of precedent, the Federation’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee made a recommendation to the NFHS Board that not only short-circuited the usual two-year lead time for equipment regulations, but the Board was not allowed to hear from the NFHS field hockey rules committee.
“We have calls into them to discuss this,” says Steven Locke, Executive Director of USA Field Hockey. “But I don’t want to be critical of their decision until we know what went into it.”
It’s unknown exactly what kind of data the NFHS Sports Science Committee had at its fingertips. But Klassner cites data from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association from a few years ago which showed a low incidence of reported head and facial injuries during the reporting period in question.
Unless a change is made, every U.S. scholastic field hockey team, except for high-school teams in Michigan and Buffalo Nichols School (N.Y.) will have to wear them in every match.
“The thing is,” Swain says, “these goggles are made for lacrosse, and, while I understand the safety issue, I don’t understand how you can have a safe environment if you can’t see the ball.”
Klassner, an NFHCA Hall-of-Fame coach, predicts that the physicality of the game will only increase.
“The thing I’m worried about is if players aren’t playing with their heads up and if they can’t see each other from having to look down at the ball,” she said.