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Archive for January 16, 2007

Jan. 16, 2007 — Umpires as “grass police”

As we mentioned a few days ago, there was an athletic conference which reported no head injuries in the 2006 season. Every conference field hockey team has artificial turf or artificial grass as its competition surface.

Is, therefore, natural grass inherently dangerous? Not really; it’s just when the surface is unkempt when you can have players hacking and slapping the ball out of deep grass, or when the ball is traveling over bumps and divots in the ground. And if you have a player of international caliber striking the ball over 70 miles an hour, that ball tends to shoot off any ground imperfection. I have seen players from former U.S. international Lori Mastropietro to former Rutgers star Andschana Mendes use bumpy grass to torture goalies with wicked bounces.

Now, the National Federation of State High School Associations has mandated maximum lengths for the height of grass. These mandates are, unfortunately, ignored pretty routinely. In these cases, Cris Maloney of has come up with a reporting mechanism that should be used by every umpire and umpiring chapter in America.

That mechanism takes the form of a safety report, which has the fax numbers of those in authority of field hockey in most states (prep schools and the State of Wisconsin are on their own).

In addition, UmpireHockey’s GameKeeper cards allow umpires to make their initial notes on pitch deficiencies while at the game site instead of having to wait to remember the details of the hazard(s) before filling out a safety report.

A good, level competition surface — even a grass one — can eliminate the need for eyewear.