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Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

July 22, 2015 — The frustration continues

With yesterday’s 4-1 shootout loss to Brazil after a 1-1 draw in the quarterfinals of the Pan American Games, the United States men’s field hockey team’s quest to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics is at an end.

The U.S. men have therefore extended an unfortunate era of futility to yet another Olympiad. It has been 59 years since the men’s field hockey team has qualified for the Olympics when it has not been the host nation. And, lest we forget, the men’s national team has never qualified for an FIH World Cup.

The usual reasons, of course, exist. There is almost no youth development system for the average male who wants to play field hockey in America. There are no high school teams, no U.S. collegiate varsity programs.

Indeed, young men have been legally barred in many states from playing field hockey through rules promulgated by state interscholastic athletic associations. Others have been shamed before being barred from play or have been the victims of ham-fisted rules written to exclude them.

The regrettable thing is that Steven Locke, the recently-departed executive director of USA Field Hockey, understood this gender deficit. A raft of initiatives designed to get more kids playing and to get more male participation in national tournaments have not yet had an impact.

Worse, the initiatives set up to get men’s field hockey going both in terms of awareness and in self-funding have fallen short.

I commend the men’s program and its coaching staff for their dedication. It is regrettable that there is no reward for their efforts. And it’s even more regrettable that the cycle of futility is set to continue until there is a fundamental change in attitude and culture.

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