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Archive for April 17, 2019

April 17, 2019 — Is the Hockey Pro League in free-fall?

It has been a period of adjustment, for sure, as the FIH and the teams participating in the inaugural Hockey Pro League have been adjusting to the responsibility of playing games in all of the participating nations rather than concentrating the competition in only a handful of locations.

First, you had Pakistan and India pulling out of the 2019 competition for various reasons. But yesterday, there was an announcement that makes you wonder if the FIH had thought through the necessary budget outlays for travel and sundries during the six-month competition period.

That’s because, in 2020 and 2021, the Hockey Pro League will be only eight games in duration, not 16. In other words, a team will play only half of the rest of the teams in the HPL on the road, and the other half at home.

Aside from gridiron football, I don’t know of any other competition on a world stage where a single round-robin throughout all available opponents determines a winner or winners. The true test, I believe, of any team’s worth — whether a club side or a national team — is how well a team defends its own home turf, then turns around and plays on the other team’s ground.

I’m hoping that, at least in time for the 2022 World Cup, that the Pro League will grow into the role into which it was envisioned: giving teams an opportunity to qualify for world-level tournaments similar to how it is done in soccer. To me, it’s the fairest way.