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© JOHN W. SMITH


Walsh discusses the negatives of wearing goggles in terms of both injuries and competitive- ness: "Our sport is significantly based on decision making, and when you introduce something like goggles that lower decision making abilities, you can make very bad decisions."


“We are not aware of any evidence that eye protection is necessary in other circumstances,” FIH Head of Sport Roger Webb said, regarding face protection, other than masks during short corners. “Instead, we are aware of concerns that it has the potential to encourage dangerous play because the wearer


feels protected.”


Walsh takes his opposition a step further: "I think we've become the laughing stock of the international hockey world, quite seriously. The change it will bring may be detrimental."


The Board's decision to go against the continu- ally unanimous "nay for goggles" vote by the Rules Committee is uncommon, but not without precedent, says Hopkins. Similar rule changes were supported by the SMAC in wrestling (regarding dividing weight classes) and diving (regarding pool depth).


Hopkins understands


USA Field Hockey's opposition to the rule, but considers it a small sacrifice when it comes to keeping children playing the sport safe, and emphasizes the difference between professional level coaching and pitches and high school


instructors and facilities: "We're playing on fields, sometimes no better than cow pastures," he says. "We no longer can


© ANIKA GOODHUE


do the college or profes- sional model. It doesn't work for us. We work on behalf of these children, no one else."


The SMAC, made up of doctors, trainers, and individual state high school association rep- resentatives (not a field hockey connoisseur, nor goggle manufacturer in the bunch) held firm that goggles can prevent the sort of catastrophic eye


17


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