Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Archive for January 25, 2007

Jan. 25, 2007 — The perils of not being detail-oriented

I was talking with an umpire a few years ago at one of the nation’s cathedrals of high-school field hockey at an all-star game. I mentioned to him how much I enjoyed coming to this place, located in central New Jersey with its terraced terrain, allowing fans to sit down on a hill right next to the action.

He sidled up to me and talked to me in a low voice. “Did you know that this field is illegal?”

I was nonplussed. How can that be the case? The team had played in this very spot for more than 60 years, and the school had to know a thing or two about how a pitch is laid out.

He pointed to an area about five yards into the pitch. “They haven’t had the alley lines in several years.”

And field hockey being a game which has a rule that says, “no marks other than those described in this Rule are to be made on the playing surface,” the five-yard alley lines shouldn’t have been there.

And for good reason; the visual mark for a side-in would have changed to seven yards for high-schoolers given the new rules for free hits. Now, for the 2006 season, the high-school and college field markings were not the same in 2006. The dashed circle on a college pitch got moved from five yards to five meters outside of the scoring circle.

So, what’s the point of this blog entry? I have an observation which can now be told. In no field hockey state final that I saw on a college pitch was the field properly marked. Yep, if your field hockey team played a postseason match on a college field, it is likely you were playing on an illegal pitch.

Thankfully, I saw no situation at the end of a half or game in which the attacking team used that extra yard in their penalty corner. But with some of the misinterpretations of the rule that occurred this year, a misplaced dashed circle is the least of the game’s problems.