What if they held a field hockey game and everybody came except for "The Stripes?" It's happened.

What if there was a field hockey game and only one official showed up? That's happened, too.

What if one chapter got so small that first-year "cadet" officials had to make difficult calls in a close match? Hey, that's occurred as well.

It is said that there are about 22 officials for every 100 varsity field hockey team across the United States. That compares with more than 150 lacrosse officials for every 100 programs.

In some places, the umpiring culture is great; collegiality dictates that players and coaches respect the officiating, mostly because the umpire is, more often that not, yards closer to the play than most coaches and spectators.

In other places, coaches, by virtue of vocal disrespect towards umpires as well as not encouraging umpiring as a viable vocation after an alumna's playing career is over, are contributing to the decay of the very sport of which they are a part.

We take a look at the problem as well as one series of very innovative solutions.

* In our look at city field hockey a few years ago, we saw bizarre umpiring in our nation's capital

* Field hockey umpiring got so byzantine in 2003 that this site called for USFHA control over the sport

* Amongst the ways that one umpiring group has been able to function and grow is through the use of technology to assign games, plus a lot of thinking outside the box