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Archive for November 23, 2019

Nov. 23, 2019 — A difference of opinion

About a week ago, a handful of members of the U.S. men’s and women’s national field hockey teams posted a Change.org petition laying out a number of grievances about their time with the high-performance level. This included a reference to the deteriorating condition of the pitch at the Spooky Nook Sports, the $22 million complex in Manheim, Pa. which opened five years ago as “The Home of Hockey.” In the petition, the key sentence is, “The Spooky Nook pitch has been condemned by the FIH as unusable and is unsafe.”

Earlier this week, FIH announced that USA Field Hockey would not be playing its home fixtures in the FIH Pro League. A subsequent interview with the Spooky Nook marketing manager indicated that there was a problem with the underliner of the outdoor pitch.

“Looking at it, it looks fine,” Bender said. “but it’s the mesh water-catching substance underneath this turf layer that needs replacement.”

This afternoon, the NCAA played two games at the site, for the championship of Division III. As far as we could tell, none of the players for Middlebury College, Salisbury State University, Franklin & Marshall, and Johns Hopkins seemed to have any problems with the competition surface.

As with all controversies throughout history, truth seems to lie somewhere between two sets of observations. But I think it’s telling that a surface designed to last 10 years is having to undergo a major renovation after only five.

And it’s also happening with FIH still studying the feasability of non-water-based turf for international competition, possibly in time for Paris 2024. If that happens, millions of dollars invested in water-based turf is going to have to be written off.

But that’s in the future.