TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Archive for November 18, 2020

BULLETIN: Nov. 18, 2020 — The 40th USA Field Hockey National Festival is a no-go

A week before the scheduled start of the two-site National Hockey Festival in Virginia Beach and the greater Charlotte, N.C. area, the event was suddenly cancelled this afternoon.

It was an event which was going to be fraught with problems, given the ever-changing rules on gatherings and quarantines which were likely going to be invoked for players and coaches coming in from elsewhere.

The Festival was going to be held solely at a soccer complex near Charlotte, but a late decision was made to split the event in half, with games played in Virginia Beach, Va. and Bermuda Run, N.C.

The cancellation comes in spite of the fact that there was a major girls’ lacrosse tournament held in the greater Baltimore area last weekend, and the Bethesda Premier Cup had been held in Boyds, Md. last weekend as well. A separate Bethesda Premier Cup for boys is being held this weekend in Boyds, Md. as well.

Now, I’m not an epidemiologist, nor a statistician. But I do wonder if the decision to split the Festival, coupled with an upward curve of COVID-19 cases around the country, made organizers think twice about having two possible super-spreader events instead of just one.

In any case, this has to be a setback for a cash-strapped USA Field Hockey, as well as for the parents who bought hotel and airline tickets already. I can but hope that the travel agents will be lenient about refunds, especially given the volume of business that the Festival usually generates.

I also feel for the average Festival athlete who works hard, plays by the rules, and is just on the edge of some Division I coaches’ radar, but won’t have a chance to show what they can do.

Nov. 18, 2020 — An unprecedented collapse of one city’s sports culture

Yesterday, it was announced that the Minnesota Twins would be severing its affiliation with the Rochester Red Wings of the International League.

This story, in and of itself, may have little importance outside of the city of Rochester, the city of 200,000 that borders Lake Ontario. But it is part of a larger collapse of professional team sports in the city which is, frankly, troubling.

Even before COVID-19, there were teams fleeing the city. In 2016, the Western New York Flash, having won the National Women’s Soccer League title, moved south and became the North Carolina Courage. This occurred after one embarrassing scenario when the team’s usual home ground was unavailable for a late-season playoff contest and the game was played at a baseball stadium.

A year later, the city’s indoor lacrosse team, the Knighthawks, were moved to Halifax, leaving the team without a National Lacrosse League team. A new Knighthawks franchise is scheduled to play in the upcoming season.

Back in 2018, the Rochester Rhinos, a soccer team with a great history, having won a U.S. Open Cup against more seasoned professionals, ceased operations. The Rhinos franchise is scheduled to start play again in the United Soccer Leagues sometime in 2021 once stable financing is in place.

What’s going on here?

I think what has been happening on the baseball side of things is that the new consolidation of the minor leagues under the control of the 30 major-league teams has given an excuse to look around for “a better deal.”

And, regrettably, a big portion of this includes race.

The New York Yankees, in recent days, has pulled out of Trenton, N.J., which is now 52 percent African-American; it has been about 42 percent about 20 years ago. And Rochester, which was 61 percent white in 1990, is now 58 percent African-American and Latino.

I’d venture to say that the people running professional sports are not covering themselves in glory here.