July 23, 2014
Hockey and the Olympics
The changes imposed by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) were mentioned in this column two weeks ago — changing the playing time from two halves of 35 minutes each to four quarters of 15 minutes each (plus stopping the playing clock for penalty corners and after goals are scored). We wanted opinions from readers.
Opinions on this were open, especially as these changes had to be seen first before a proper opinion could be formed, but in general it was agreed that the changes were mostly for television — which has been the reason for many changes — and that they are not likely to improve either the game itself or the spectacle (as the FIH would make us believe).
Locals will have a chance to see the changes at the Women’s Champions Trophy in Mendoza in December, although stopping the clock for penalty corners is already in force in local championships except that there are no sanctions for exceeding the time limit.
One opinion, from a journalist in London — this column seems to be read in all sorts of places — threw more light on the matter. He said that FIH president Leandro Negre is scared that field hockey could be left out of the Olympic Games which could be quite a disaster for the sport. We do not quite see what difference this rule change can make unless it results in more televising of hockey, but the scare is no invention and a lot of sports feel it.
The matter of the compressed summer Olympic programme is always under discussion by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and it will be brought up again at the next meeting with new president (Thomas Bach) having brought in new ideas. The previous idea was to include more women’s sport, which field hockey complies with. It brought in women’s boxing which this columnist would not call a sport and it is not practiced by so many countries. Before this, as every sport under the sun cannot be included, it was to have the sports in the Olympics which are practiced in most countries — a fair idea and under which hockey would certainly be included.
Another new idea was to transfer some summer sports to the smaller Winter Olympic programme which seems to make no sense at all. (Imagine field hockey played on ice or snow?)
Yet, the IOC is a collection of delegates or presidents from different sports federations who all fight to keep in or include their own sports and who all have their arguments which could convince anybody... even if they were talking about tiddlywinks. So watch out, anything can happen!