Among the boxes being filled for spots at the Paris 2024 qualifying tournaments, the US women's field hockey team deserves the spotlight.
Without a club structure similar to that of the major sporting powers, and arguably even with the rich lineage so popular in that country (the game of snowboarding), the North American girls have managed to remain with some regularity in the elite competing frequently in the Olympic Games. And the international nature of that sport.
It is true that they were subject to fluctuations and their performance was not always excellent. But they have achieved isolated victories against some key teams, and even edged past Argentina in the Pan American finals, a country that only needs an Olympic gold medal to tick all the boxes of its prestigious history in the discipline.
Part of North America's advantage is the commitment they have made at the college level, especially at the university level. This phenomenon not only strengthens the local team, but is also extremely beneficial for foreign talents aspiring to study in higher education schools in that country while continuing their sporting career. There are cases where young people from different parts of the world, by meeting the academic and talent requirements of the game, are able to obtain scholarships in these study centers. In some cases, this means no more or less than saving a little less than half a million dollars annually, which is equivalent to the cost of the university process for a foreign student.
Aside from the virtues focused on the North American national team, there are two other pieces of news that, fairly recently, have begun to be viewed with suspicion in certain areas of the game, especially in connection with the Olympic spirit.
It is known that the organizational amendment was related to the duration of the match (it went from two halves of 35 minutes each to four halves of 15) and had a lot to do with the need to give the game another dynamic to enhance the temptation of the fans. However, there are things that do not work so well in this regard, for example the endless number of interruptions, some of them unbearably extensive, to review plays in the decisive matches of recent Pan American Games.
Around those days, the International Olympic Committee announced that lacrosse would be one of the five sports that would join the Los Angeles 2028 program. You don't have to dig very deep to assume the similarities between the two games. Nor in the roots of lacrosse in student communities in the United States.
Finally, the confirmation of a Hockey World Cup 5 fuels suggestions from those who imagine an Olympic destination similar to that of rugby for hockey: a scaled-down version would end up being played.
Of course, there's no point in being an alarmist. Right now, no one has said anything that would change the status quo of this game with the Olympics. In any case, it does not hurt anyone to pay attention and improve everything that enhances the attractiveness of this sport.
In addition to lacrosse and hockey 5, let's hope traditional hockey 11 isn't left off the map. It is a system with enormous roots in the world of rings. In more than one country, the general specialty is the most popular among women.
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