NCAA: field hockey refs constantly make up rules | The Triangle

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NCAA: field hockey refs constantly make up rules

Mar. 31, 2014
NCAA field hockey referee Jessie Thomas, left, looks on in confusion during a game between Drexel University and Temple University last season. Thomas has instituted a few absolutely mind-boggling rules during her long career as an official of the sport.
NCAA field hockey referee Jessie Thomas, left, looks on in confusion during a game between Drexel University and Temple University last season. Thomas has instituted a few absolutely mind-boggling rules during her long career as an official of the sport.

In a new report released March 21 by the NCAA, it has been announced that the sport of field hockey actually does not have an official rulebook and the referees are just encouraged to make shit up as they go along. The most important part of the statement read, “There are only three rules in field hockey: 11 players per team; no whacking each other with the sticks; and a goal is a goal. The rest is entirely up to the officials.”

In a sport that is so utterly confusing to the casual fan, this news came as no surprise to many who have been attending field hockey games for years.

“This is a stunning yet incredibly predictable announcement,” area woman Toni Hall said. “I have been a big Drexel fan for years, but I have absolutely no clue what’s going on out on the turf. There’s a lot of running, whacking and shooting — which is all very enjoyable to watch — but it always seemed like there’s no particular set of rules.”

In the 2013 season, the Drexel field hockey team finished with a 13-7 overall record, ultimately losing in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament to Northeastern University. Throughout the season, the Dragons were constantly confused and bewildered by some of the calls that went against them, but it is understood in the field hockey world that you must accept the referee’s explanation and move on.

Whistles at random times and inexplicable goal wave-offs are commonplace, and those usually result in incoherent mumblings of direction from the zebras.

“Many times throughout my career, a referee would come over and try to explain something and basically speak to me in tongues,” senior forward Eliza DeDomino explained. “Then she would simply walk away and the game would continue. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I would shrug it off and score a goal; it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

Some of the understood rules in place, such as the fact that no player can use the backhand side of their sticks or kick the ball in order to possess it, came about in 1969, when a referee by the name of Jessie Thomas slipped in the parking lot before a game and smacked her head on the concrete. She then proceeded to enforce the aforementioned rules with no opposition from the confused teams or fans in attendance.

But Thomas was not the first trailblazer for silly field hockey rules. The creator of the sport, Dr. Sven L. Abernathy, came up with the rules for a penalty corner when he accidentally tipped over an atrium of lizards and thought, “Well, that’s pretty neat,” as he watched them scurry across his bedroom floor.

“Dr. Abernathy is absolutely a pioneer,” Drexel head coach Precious Stelezak said. “His creativity and utter insanity have shaped the game into whatever the hell it is today.”

There has been no official statement from the Drexel athletic department regarding whether or not the team will change its style of play in reaction to this announcement. However, many experts around the country suggest that programs should not change anything, considering that the rules could change at any moment.

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