Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Jan. 11, 2015 — The reddest of herrings, exposed

Last week, a Sussex County, N.J. appeals court let stand a lower court ruling in the case of a Sussex High Point (N.J.) junior varsity player who suffered a detached retina during a 2009 practice. The original ruling dismissed the case on a summary judgment.

That means, in layman’s terms, that the original court didn’t find enough merit in the case it allow it to go to trial in the first place.

In original trial testimony reported by NJ Advance Media, prosecution witness Leonard Lucenko said that the school’s failure to mandate eyewear “reflects a cavalier attitude toward the health and safety of the young student athletes.”

The courts, however, have disagreed. The original court found that was a “net opinion” — a particular quirk in New Jersey tort law which requires expert witnesses to back up their testimony with actual facts and citations.

Now, I don’t know whether the High Point case was the one that prompted the National Federation’s field hockey committee used to mandate eyewear back in 2011.

But given the results of this appeal, I’d like to point out that there is now little to no justification to mandate eye wear in U.S. high schools. Many more teams play their games today on artificial grass than they did when this site began. Teams don’t ring free hits these days, instead choosing to man-mark or cover open space.

The self-start and rules on free hits inside the 23-meter line have also cut down on the number of dangerously raised balls over the last few years.

I think what’s also happened, however, is that scholastic players with eyewear are less afraid of taking shots in congested areas and risking raised balls. Is it any wonder that scoring records in both field hockey and lacrosse have been falling like so much wheat chaff the last three or four seasons?

It’s time to put pressure on the powers-that-be in high school field hockey to remove the eyewear mandate for the good of the game.


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