The Fans of HockeyWorld Hockey NewsJamie Dwyer Hates Own Goal Rule in Hockey: Do you also?

Jamie Dwyer - Kookaburras / Australian Hockey Player (Photo Credit: Raghu Prasad R V)

Five-time World Player of the Year, Olympic Gold medalist and Australian co-captain Jamie Dwyer has announced this week on twitter that he hates Own Goal rule in hockey.

Wow! A pretty emphatic statement if ever I (Adam Clifford) saw one. I can’t imagine many defenders or goalkeepers are keen on this rule, but if the world’s best striker also isn’t on board then alarm bells should be ringing for the FIH rules committee.

Dwyer is of course referring to what the FIH termed a “mandatory experiment” in which if the ball touches or is played by a player of the defending team in the shooting circle, and then travels over the goal line without first leaving the circle, then it will be counted as an “own goal” against the defending team. FIH approved this rule effective on January 1, 2013.

In a statement to Continential Associations and National Federations, FIH emphasised that:
“This is described as a “Mandatory Experimental Rule” so that it applies at all levels of hockey but, because it is a significant change, it will be monitored closely. After a period of review, the FIH Rules Committee will decide whether or not it becomes a permanent change to the Rules.” (June 27, 2012).

This decision was made by the FIH rules committee and as Dwyer alludes to, international players were not consulted.

It appears to me that FIH have attempted to do two things; 1) make the job of umpires easier and 2) encourage more goals to lift the supposed excitement of the sport. But to the detriment of player safety with the experimental rule encouraging direct play into crowded areas of the circle. Forgive me for being cynical but isn’t that the exact same senario that FIH attempted to avoid when they introduced the ‘outside five’ circle-edged free hits?

It seems we have taken a step forward and two steps back as I now watch hockey of all levels crash the ball into the circle. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I have recently watched international players storm with possession to the baseline and just aimlessly crash the ball across goal, hoping for a fortunate deflection. Call me old fashioned what what ever happened to encouraging attacking skill and teamwork? There seems little honour in scoring an own goal. In fact, the celebrations of sides fortunate to gain an advantage in this manner have been somewhat comical. Unsure whether to cheer or who to congratulate. Spectators and supporters have followed suit. Why then do we celebrate mediocrity.

It seems to me to be a question of quantity of goals versus quality of goals. I for one would much rather see quality goals deciding games. Dwyer agrees with me and so too, apparently, do 80% of international players. I mean, what next? Do we remove the attacking circle altogether and just say players can shoot from anywhere? Do we increase the size of the goals? Get rid of goalkeepers altogether? These measures would all increase the scoring of goals but the core fascination with hockey is because fans of this wonderful sport understand how difficult it is to score. In essence, they appreciate the skill involved to create such a feat. The own goal may take some of the ‘guess work’ out for umpires and it unquestionably will result in more goals being scored. But like a golfer’s card, more isn’t necessarily better!

Adam Clifford

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