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Archive for November 12, 2018

Nov. 12, 2018 — Is it time to rethink back-to-back?

Several U.S. states, such as New York, Virginia, and Ohio schedule their state semifinal and championship field hockey games on back-to-back days.

Heck, at one time, the Virginia High School League tournament was the toughest of all field hockey state tournaments because the games were scheduled on three consecutive days.

Two weeks ago, as an example, Gahanna Columbus Academy (Ohio) won the OHSAA state championship over Hudson (Ohio), after the latter had to play an extra 20 minutes of overtime the day before before winning a penalty shootout against Worthington Thomas Worthington (Ohio.).

But that example wasn’t even close to what I saw in the VHSL finals on Saturday, where I saw the effects of back-to-back games up close. And I’m not so sure this kind of match scheduling is a benefit to the student-athletes who participate in them.

Glen Allen Deep Run (Va.) took 77 minutes, rather than the usual 60, to defeat Stafford Mountain View (Va.) in the Class 5A semifinal match last Friday. The team had less than 24 hours to rest for the championship game against Gloucester (Va.), wherupon the Wildcats had to play 80 minutes. In total, that’s 157 minutes — nearly 2 1/2 full games — in a shade over 26 hours.

By the same token, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) was taken to overtime in the Class 6A semifinals against Fairfax (Va.) on Friday, and double-overtime in the final against Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) Saturday.

Now, it’s not as though the extra time wound up being a competitive disadvantage; Cox won the 6A title; Deep Run lost its final in 5A.

And it’s not as though the highly-skilled and well-trained field hockey players of today are in any way weak or infirm.

But given the competitiveness of the game in this era, any small advantage in rest is multiplied in the postseason. I think it’s why the NCAA went away from back-to-back games in Division I a couple of decades ago, and now have a Friday/Sunday schedule for regional and national finals.

Maybe it’s time to do the same at the scholastic level.

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