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Archive for January 15, 2007

Jan. 15, 2007 — Move this stuff outside

Examine this picture.

In the debate over the imposition of mandatory eyewear in Federation field hockey, this could be the most damaging photographic piece of evidence ever unless context is added.

Why? Note that every player on the red-clad Japanese women’s team is wearing full-face shields, while the Americans are not. It makes our countrywomen look like reckless Luddites.

Some of the opthamologists being paid by eyewear manufacturers may seize on this photo as the evidence they need to threaten lawsuits against state governing bodies of high-school sport.

But look at where the ball is and check out the spot of turf on which it is sitting. That’s the penalty spot, seven yards from the goal cage. You can barely see the shadow the goal cage is making on the turf at the right edge of the photo about halfway down.

And you can understand why the goalie is on the ground, too — it’s a U.S. penalty corner, and Japan’s corner defense unit is allowed to wear plastic face shields during the corner.

On the left, the blue-clad U.S. player is Keli Smith. She is trying to address the ball for a shot while Japan’s Akemi Kato is sliding along the ground inside the scoring circle making a backhand play for the ball — an extremely dangerous play which is allowed to occur because, theoretically, the danger doesn’t occur until Smith takes a full swing at the ball and follows through into Kato.

Such a play is not allowed in indoor hockey, touching knee or body to ground unless making a block tackle.

Indoor hockey has a number of rules modified from the outdoor game to improve safety. Another such rule is that a ball cannot be raised under any circumstances unless it is in the scoring circle, and then it can only be raised for a shot on goal.

I’d like to see some of these indoor regulations added to the outdoor game instead of mandating eyewear.