Last fall, a Divison One contest played by elite athletes was halted because it conflicted with a pre-game fireworks display for another sport. The game was never replayed or finished. The game halted was a field hockey game between Kent State and Temple, the fireworks display was before a football game. I love football, it is a skill game played by well trained athletes. It has excitement, pageantry, and tradition. I played it in high school and college, and like most young athletes it became a passion for me. I still enjoy and support the game.
However, in the last 50 years young women have had a chance to participate and benefit from competitive athletics, and they deserve the same attention, effort and infrastructure commensurate with their feats on the field. So it is with field hockey, although played internationally by both genders, is a sport dominated by female athletes in the United States.
As many of you know my wife and I donated the field that bears our name at Lafayette College. The story is my daughter who was playing at the University of Maryland was to play Lafayette in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Maryland. Lafayette had a grass field and had to practice at Lehigh. During the game, I overheard a Patriot League coach say in the stands, “Lafayette will never have turf field, because they don’t care enough about women’s sports.”
At that moment we decided to literally change the ground they played on. It was not an easy journey. One senior college official discouraged me from adding a scoreboard and stands, “since no one came to the games anyway.” So we built it and they came. Field Hockey for the last 20 years has an unrivaled record at Lafayette.
Despite the League championships and NCAA appearances, the team got little print even in the local papers, or school newspaper. At the time, the Easton Express invited people to blog in the their online paper. The blog was born. Since then the Express has dropped the blogs, and I moved to another platform.
There are still obstacles from time to time. Like most institutions, the college wants to control it’s own message and has a platform to do it. However, this blog is independent of the goleopards platform, and for that reason, I sometimes go in a different direction, such as my championing athletic scholarships at the college, or the Patriot Leagues intransigence in requiring instant replay like other Division one schools. If the team plays badly, I will say they played badly. You will never see written here, ” the team closed the 4-0 gap in the last five seconds but it was not enough.”
But I honor the effort of these amazing student athletes by refraining from criticizing individual team members, but celebrating their accomplishments. I believe it is THIER game after all, they should know, and be proud when they do well, and they will know when they haven’t measured up.
I still believe their accomplishments should be celebrated more, and attendance at games should be promoted, by providing information to fans on a timely basis. I believe. the fan experience should be the best possible, from comfortable seating to accommodating venues. At the present time, Lafayette field hockey generates the highest fan attendance in the League. They play in a hotbed of high school field hockey, but still do not get the attention they deserve! Publishing of team information on upcoming games, and new recruits is sparse. Hopefully, that will change in the future… in the meantime…. I will be happy to fill that gap.
That’s why I write. GO PARDS