The game of field hockey has resisted major head injuries and attempts to regulate the sport -- until recently.
On October 3, 2004, a field hockey player in Mumbai, India died of a head injury after being struck in the head from a follow-through of an opponent's drive.
In early 2007, a third vote was taken by the National Federation of State High School Associations to mandate goggles or other protective eyewear in the game of field hockey for American public schools.
And for the third time, thanks to an overwhelming outcry from the American field hockey community, the vote failed.
The measure would have mandated eyewear similar to what is called for amongst the private schools in the Independent School League of Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia; all public schools in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire; and the field hockey program at South Berwick Marshwood (Maine). It will take an uproar from cyberspace and from the American field hockey community to stop the mandatory statute from changing the domestic game forever.
It is up to players, coaches, and administrators to make the most of this reprieve, since exactly five votes can nullify the will of more than 1,800 high schools and 300 universities, plus handicap our athletes on the world hockey scene. After all, college coaches who attract foreign players can simply choose to skip domestic recruiting altogether.
Hence, TopOfTheCircle.com has embarked on a multimedia campaign of head injury reduction called "Right To Right Is Right."
Having seen hundreds of field hockey games over the past two decades, it is obvious that the game is faster and more aggressive than it has ever been. Broken noses, concussions, black eyes, and broken jaws have become part of the game.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Two things can be done to stop the majority of head injuries in the United States. One is the improvement of competition surfaces. High schools and universities across America have adopted artificial pitches, allowing the field hockey players to play much freer, knowing they won't have to worry about bad bounces and raised balls. But more can be done.
The second thing that can cut down on head and facial injuries is to eliminate the possibility of stick-to-head injuries by teaching players to tackle correctly.
To that end, we have an array of information and multimedia to offer to the field hockey community. We need everyone -- everyone -- in on this, from the fourth-grade team at a public school to the third-varsity programs prep schools to USFHA club teams to keep mandatory eyewear and/or headgear out of the sport.
* A motivation on how to tackle any problem in the right way
* Our look at head injuries in field hockey
* Former Team USA men's coach Shiv Jagday's essay on tackling from the left is still relevant more than a decade after it was first penned
* A series of stories on the spread of artificial pitches across the United States
* What's at stake? The imposition of goggles could have been made in 2005
* Who's at fault on a head injury? Ask an umpire
* Medical doctors have been pushing eyewear mandates, often for personal profit
* Kim Susko lost her senior year in college to a head injury, but has made the indoor and outdoor national teams. Despite that, she remains anti-goggle
* The performance of Team Avon in the 2005 National Futures Tournament shows what happens when players are allowed to play freely
* When goggles are appropriate
* The crux of the "Right to Right" campaign: don't tackle from the left
* Add visual reminders to your practice regimen
* Read an extraordinary 15-part series on BlogOfTheCircle, forming an incontrovertable argument against eyewear * (click here to get to the beginning; use right clicks on the blog for the following day's segment)
* A 15-segment series on BlogOfTheCircle, examining the many double-standards of the Journal of Athletic Training in their argument for full-face helmets and hockey gloves on field hockey players* (click here to get to the beginning; use right clicks on the blog for the following day's segment)
DOWNLOADABLE FREE RESOURCES
* A QuickTime VR illustration what a ballcarrier sees when the stick is swung
* Downloadable flipbooks for your fourth-generation iPod or iPod Photo
* Digital PSAs for to view and/or include in your training tapes
NOTE: The Right To Right Is Right program is designed to help players, coaches, and administrator in maintaining a safe and injury-free environment for all field hockey participants. However, participants in any sport should be aware of the inherent risk of injury.