Thursday, May 22, 2014


If you're wondering where the Dillon Gym ping-pong tournament stands, it's down to the final two.

And Jim Barlow isn't one of them.

Barlow, TigerBlog's pick to win it all, fell in the semifinals to his assistant coach, Steve Totten. It takes a lot of courage to beat the boss, by the way.

Since TigerBlog picked Barlow to win the tournament, he's heard from several other people who said that they agreed with that pick, even though none of them had ever seen Barlow play the game. It just seemed to a bunch of people to be right up Barlow's alley.

And in fairness, he came close. The Totten-Barlow match apparently was the best one of the tournament so far, as Totten came from behind in Game 3 to pull it out.

Looking ahead, Totten now faces a tall challenge in the final.

Tall, as in Mike Pallister, the assistant field hockey coach. Pallister stands about 6-7, which makes TB wonder if being that big is an advantage or disadvantage in ping pong.

TigerBlog has seen Pallister drive a field hockey ball, and he does so with a ton of power. Pallister is from Australia, where he played field hockey at the highest levels.

In Australia, there are basically the same number of male players and female players, at least according to Wikipedia, which wouldn't lie about a thing like that.

In the United States the sports is played almost exclusively by female players. Probably 99% of the field hockey players in this country are female.

TigerBlog wonders why that is.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that it is played at the same time of year as football, which has probably the same kind of participation ratio as field hockey, only reversed.

There is a U.S. men's national field hockey team, which has qualified for the Olympics twice - in 1932 and 1996 - both times because it received an automatic bid as the host nation.

The women's national team is establishing itself as a much more significant player on the international stage, something that shouldn't be surprising, given the much larger pool of players available on the female side.

Princeton continues to be a huge part of the women's national team.

Princeton had four players involved with the U.S. Olympic team in 2012 - Kathleen Sharkey, Michelle Cesan and the Reinprecht sisters, Julia and Katie.

The Reinprechts and Sharkey recently played together in Scotland with the U.S. team at the Champions Challenge in Scotland. Next up for them is the World Cup, which begins May 31 in the Hague.

There are 18 players on the U.S. team, and three of them are Princetonians. That's a pretty good ratio.

The four Princeton players who have been part of the national team program were the cornerstones of the Tigers' 2012 NCAA championship team. That championship was a defining moment for the Princeton program, as it ended an 11-year run by the ACC for the national title.

There obviously is no NCAA men's field hockey competition, as there simpley aren't enough players to make it happen.

Maybe it's just the evolution of sports in this country, as opposed to the rest of the world. The men just don't play it here. TigerBlog never has.

In this country, it's a sport for women, and some of the best women's players have also played for Princeton.

As for men who coach in this country, they often tend to be international players, like Pallister. TB wonders what men's club field hockey looks like in Australia or on the highest levels in the world. He figures it's pretty fast-paced and athletic.

And so it will be the Australian against the assistant men's soccer coach in the Dillon ping-pong final. That figures to be fast-paced and athletic as well.

For TigerBlog, it's just another wrong prediction.


Anonymous said...

I think the lack of Field Hockey players isn't due to a lack of interested participants, but rather a lack of opportunities available. It's sort of a chicken and egg problem. My guess is that the NCAA, in its attempt to evenly balance men's and women's sports, purposefully omitted men's field hockey, which in turn led high schools to do so as well.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure the US had a men's field hockey team at the '52 Helsinki and '60 Melbourne Olympics. Players were mostly ex-college lacrosse players, some from the old Mt. Washington Lacrosse Club of Baltimore. They played in the fall in an informal league on the East Coast

Ken Perry '50

Anonymous said...

I believe the US had a men's field hockey team at the '52 Helsinki and '60 Melbourne Olympics. A friend, ex-Hopkins lacrosse player, was on the teams.The members were mostly ex-college lacrosse players, many from the Mt. Washington Lacrosse Club of Baltimore. They played in an informal, fall league on the East Coast. Some of the players on other teams came from Washington embassies.
Ken Perry '50

Ken Perry '50 said...

Second comment:

Surprised you did not mention the
Table Tennis Team which won the women's title at the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association championships on April 6, including first and third individual places.