TIME FOR ALL TO STAND UP

It is always easy to take pot shots at organizations such as the FIH. A recent column by ‘The Hack’ alluded to the difficulty faced in organizing things on a global scale, especially when volunteers are doing a lot of the work. And ‘herding cats’ is a pretty good metaphor for the job the FIH faces.


That’s not to say the FIH should be above criticism, far from it. It should be encouraged. Open, free and vigorous debate about the issues that confront the sport is the only way that the FIH can truly gauge the thoughts and feelings of the Hockey community. Focus groups, questionnaires and marketing studies can tell you one thing. But as the fallout from the last US Presidential election so starkly points out people are far more likely in such a scenario to tell you what they think you want to hear, rather than what they really want to say. These metrics are not to be excluded for that, but rather their influence tempered somewhat.


And that leads us to the Hockey community. Hockey would be in a fight for the second most popular team sport in the world. Soccer would be the undisputed king. Basketball and Baseball may very well have overtaken us as second peg. But you would not know that given the media coverage the sport has to endure. And we use the word ‘endure’ purposely.


As pleasing as it is to see the FIH making attempts to procure the sort of coverage that the game deserves it will all come to nothing unless the Hockey community engages with it. No ratings will mean no coverage and potentially millions of dollars, euros, pound and rupee will be lost to the game. And one thing the FIH cannot guarantee is how many people will turn on the TV or their computer and engage. That responsibility rests solely with us; players, supporters and lovers of the game.


It will be no good bleating about what the FIH does or doesn’t do if we do not play our part. And for all the best wishes for the game that the FIH has the weakest link is us, the Hockey Community. We can only speak from the perspective of the country and society we live in. Many in the Hockey world will have a total and completely different perspective than us, and neither will be ‘right’. From our perspective one thing stood out.


Over the last two weeks we have had several discussions with teammates and opponents about the broader picture of the game. It was disappointing. Not because they did not have thoughts on the direction of the game. Plenty of them were thrown up. What was disappointing was that even two weeks after the announcement of the teams for the new Hockey Pro League not one person knew it had been on the cards, let alone was going ahead, nor that their country had been selected for both men’s and women’s leagues. They knew nothing of the World League in London. But they did know about the CEO of the FIH catching a helicopter from Lausanne to London for a press release. The general consensus? Is that where our fees go?


Perception is reality and that is something the FIH will also have to come to terms with.


The Reverse Stick      Thursday June 29 2017

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