Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

March 30, 2015 — An indictment which could be multiplied

I first met Stephanie last fall at a soccer game in Philadelphia. As half of a duo who puts out a rollicking and no-holds-barred podcast on American women’s soccer called “Two Drunk Fans,” she is a tremendous repository of opinions and facts about the current state of the game.

This makes her article today in SB Nation so incredibly devastating. Thing is, she speaks truth not only about soccer as an economic barrier to potentially great players, but to many other sports.

If you put “field hockey” or “girls’ lacrosse” in the place of the word “soccer” in that article, you should prepare for an epiphany.

Look at the elite level of both sports today. You will see very little diversity in the senior field hockey and the senior women’s lacrosse teams, despite diversity efforts at the grass roots of both activities.

As these grass roots efforts are in their infancy, however, it is unfair to paint the efforts of U.S. Lacrosse or USA Field Hockey a failure or somehow “proof” that these efforts won’t ever work.

Instead, you have to look at what Stephanie wrote about the overwhelming emphasis placed on pay-to-play club teams, national-development efforts, and for-profit tournaments.

At the same time, however, you are seeing organizations in Europe and Oceania running player combines for American collegiate coaches. I’ve seen such ads on the Internet, selling the dream of playing for a U.S. college.

It makes the dream of the middle-class kid from a non-traditional area to be discovered by a good program all the more remote. 

And it doesn’t have to be this way.


1 Comment»

  Adam wrote @

Despite diversity efforts, it’s ultimately up to the parents. You can provide free coaching and no-cost opportunities to play but without parental support, the player will not develop. I work full-time and have a small side business to help support my daughter’s club participation and traveling. Other parents can do the same. It’s unfair to blame club costs on the lack of diversity. Coaches and facilities have to be compensated for their time and capital investments

Free and low-cost opportunities to play are out there. There are several programs in our city with many players from “non-traditional areas” and they are quite diverse and quite competitive, thanks to the efforts of parents.

Diversity in field hockey could also be helped if USAFH stopped putting so much effort in growing the game with boys. The vast majority of field hockey players in the U.S. are female and USAFH should spend its resources on growing and supporting its base.

What if NCAA field hockey programs stopped or limited its recruitment of foreign players? How many scholarships or spots on NCAA rosters are occupied by foreign players? I have nothing against foreign players but their inclusion on rosters further decreases opportunities for American players from “non-traditional” areas.

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