Australian journalist Ashely Morrison is once again the one breaking the news from FIH with an article entitled “Who’s left” on his sports blog Not the Footy Show. It talks about the administration and management of the game we all love and hold dear. And the breaking news he outs is that the FIH will have to go and look for a new CEO because New Zealand’s Jason McCracken is either throwing in the towel or has been pushed out after only 11 months on the job. There are no official statements as of yet so it’s a bit of a guessing game today… And with him, the FIH has lost most of it’s senior administrators in just one year, more or less since the appointment of Dr. Narinder Batra (India) as president of the FIH. The directors of sales, media and sports have preceded the CEO and immediately following the CEO the FIH also lost its director of events, the one responsible for launching the new and ambitious Hockey Pro League.
Well Batra…. So the question today is, will the president of the FIH, Batra, finally stand up and reassure the world of hockey this chaos will be resolved soon… or not?
So far the good man has not done a lot to inspire a lot of confidence wether he will be up to the task. Yes, he has done a lot for Indian hockey with the launch of the HIL some years ago. And he has brought the world of hockey some new sponsors from his home country. But has he built something able to last for more than a couple of years? Until now we, outside of the inner circle of his India, have not seen any proof of this. The HIL will not be played this year and most doubt it will make a come back. Star Sports has backed down from it’s 8 year contract as the global media partner since India told the FIH “out of the blue” they would not be competing in the yet to be launched HPL. And Batra himself just got appointed to another high level position in his home country India where he became the president of the national Olympic association. So one cant’t but wonder where his priorities lie?
Entertainment or sport?
The majority of people following hockey (and therefore the same goes for most of the media) hardly even know there is such a thing as the FIH, don’t know nor care for Batra. They are only interested in who scored the last goal for their team or country. So I doubt it will mean a lot to most of hockey followers. But the events from these last couple of years could and probably will have a significant impact on the international evolution of our sport. Little over a year ago I already wrote a piece on this blog about the choices made, shaping the future of our game of hockey and the choice between entertainment or sport. It seems the choice has been made and entertainment has won at the expense of sport.
So my question, one year after the FIH has launched it’s Hockey Revolution remains: Who’s right? The purists who are worried about the non-stop flow of changes to the game of hockey. The ones who believe you will put the entire sport of hockey in danger if you disregard the foundation of the game for us in western Europe: domestic club hockey. Or the ones who push hockey towards more entertainment and focus on the game played by national teams… only the future will tell.
But this post Olympic year has been anything but dull or uneventful. That’s for sure. Let’s hope 2018 will bring our game of hockey some more stability and good news…