Sport is competition but different sports also compete with each other for participants, spectators and revenue. Several sports have become better spectacles by rule changes as evidenced by the attendances at those that have looked at innovation; T20 Cricket is a case in point. The motive for change may not always be money or popularity. It may simply be because lawmakers realise they can improve the game.
There are few rules as contentious in team sport as the offside rule. The fitness levels of professional sportsmen have increased the difficulty of identifying whether someone has strayed into an offside position before a ball is played. There is an argument that offside has little validity and should be scrapped so that officials can concentrate on other infringements. It is something that hockey decided to do back in 1998 after a two year experiment and it seems to have made little negative impact on the game, even if some tactics changed.
Hockey’s rules date back to the 19th century. It is a game that has become more and more popular in recent decades and the fact that offside was abolished, making the game more attacking, has probably helped. Hockey is the second most popular team participation sport in the world, close behind soccer. It is played in various continents, including South America and Australia, as well as in the Sub Continent within Asia and several countries within Europe; all the national sides where the game is popular compete in both Olympic and other world level competitions for both men and women.
The rules are fairly simple and newcomers to the game will soon be able to grasp them. It is a game, one of the very few, that can only be played right handed so that opponents are not blocked from the ball. Hockey was the likely girl’s team game in schools as opposed to soccer or rugby at boy’s schools during the winter. There are many senior clubs throughout the UK providing an opportunity for anyone interested in starting to learn the game or continuing on from their school or college days. Each club has its own hockey kit which identifies players on one side from the other.
The game in the UK is well structured with both national and regional leagues. Although the game originated on grass fields, it is now largely played on artificial turf. The smooth surface of well laid artificial turf allows the skill levels to be improved and the quality of the game at international level has never been higher.
At grass roots level, clubs play purely for fun and raise the funds required for their kits and travelling expenses from social events and raffles, etc. At the highest level, the game is full of players seeking international recognition, and similar to other popular sports the pinnacle is world competition.