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Archive for September 17, 2017

Sept. 17, 2017 — What will the legacy look like?

The big news in amateur sport this past week was that Los Angeles was awarded the 2028 Olympics.

A lot could happen in the next 4000 days leading to the Games of the 34th Olympiad, and amongst field hockey cogniscenti, there is a lot of free advice out there about what kind of Olympic tournament will help grow the game in the western United States.

It kind of reminds you of the cartoon which shows how a varying series of complex contraptions made with rope, wood planks, and tires satisfied various interest groups in trying to build a simple playground swing.

So, as a public service, we’re going to make a thought exercise out of this, given what we’ve seen already on social media as well as  through Olympic and recent sporting history:

  1. The soccer solution. Since the 1984 Olympics, the various soccer tournaments have been a movable feast for the host nation. In 1984, for example, the men’s soccer group games took place at Stanford, Harvard, and the United States Naval Academy before matriculating to the Rose Bowl for the final. Given the number of FIH-compliant facilities in the United States, it would be easy to assign an entire quarter of the Olympic tournament — say, Group A men — to one site. If this was to happen, I think the logical existing four sites would be Chula Vista, Calif.; Moorpark, Calif.; Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, Pa.; and the National Training Center in Virginia Beach.
  2. The Western solution. Given the lack of field hockey infrastructure on the West Coast, it might be best to concentrate the Games into areas of California where the game is already present. Play the women’s tournament in its entirety at Chula Vista, while playing the men’s tournament in its entirety in Moorpark.
  3. The Kyocera Stadium solution. The 2014 FIH World Cups were held at the home of ADO Den Haag, a men’s soccer team in the Eredivisie in Holland. It required that six layers be laid down with a slight crown in the center but with the scoring circles remaining perfectly flat. Indeed, when Boston was the hot choice to be an American host for the next open games, field hockey was envisioned for Harvard Stadium. But for a West Coast games, the two obvious candidate sites for retrofitting are the Stub Hub Center in Carson, Calif. and the as-yet-unnamed home of Los Angeles F.C., which is being built downtown. That, of course, assumes that soccer hasn’t already called dibs on these two soccer-specific stadia.
  4. The X-Games Solution. Ever wonder how events like the X-Games, the various Red Bull extreme sports competitions, and the Dew Tour are organized? It’s all about logistics and moving huge ramps and jumps from one competition venue to another. I can envision FIH commissioning one or more temporary bolt-together hockey stadia, complete with built-in watering and drainage systems. Like the current generation of temporary cycling velodromes, I think a hockey stadium could be engineered for installation and removal in a very short period of time.
  5. The Instant Rivalry Solution. If the four Division universities in Los Angeles County agreed to start varsity programs in exchange for hosting duties in 2028, you could more than double the number of programs on the Pacific coastline if you can commit to having several permanent water-based pitches on college campuses. Those schools would be the University of Southern California, UCLA, Pepperdine, and Long Beach State.

I’ll be interested to see what happens, given the fact that none of the four previous stateside Olympic Games (St. Louis 1904, Los Angeles 1932, Los Angeles 1984, Atlanta 1996) has generated a single NCAA Division I field hockey program in its host region.