OH CANADA ! Why no broadcasting / live streaming of field hockey from Pan Am Games Toronto 2015 ?

Posted in Argentine Hockey, English Hockey, on line marketing, Pan Am Games on July 23rd, 2015 by John Coxon

(Please note –  I have no official association professionally or otherwise with any hockey club or organisation and the views below are my own )

Hockey - made for television!

Hockey – made for television!

For field hockey to grow & have profile/status  I feel it deserves live streaming of all major events as standard is vital but sadly that still remains the dream. The Pan Am Games, for fans of hockey, has much wider importance than for those in the New World because with the Rio Olympics now imminent , the Pan Ams are both a ticket for international teams to qualify but also of great interest for teams and their fans in Europe and the Southern Hemisphere who welcome the opportunity to see where the higher world ranked teams , like Argentina and USA are up to development wise  but why when so many around the world would like to watch live games is this how the game is currently represented ? Like this sadly :-

Blank Screen - no broadcasts

Blank Screen – no broadcasts

Like many professional photographers and journalists I empathise with so called minority sports like field hockey and where I can , use the internet and social media prolifically to offer what support I can in images and words.  To do this adequately live coverage /live streamed broadcasts are essential.  The recent World Hockey League in Valencia and Antwerp was covered by mainstream broadcaster SkySports ( where the sports governing body had paid for coverage) and crucially also available free and live streamed via Star TV India enabling those without the means to go Pay Per View to watch the games and help raise the profile of the game but fans of the game had to rely on people like myself and many others  sharing links to the alternative streaming.  The Star India TV website was not an easy to navigate one and I found it a real challenge to find live feeds there confounded by confusion about time zones.

argentine TYc

For the Pan Am Games only Argentina’s TyC sports TV has provided limited live streamed coverage via its web site where their national sides have been involved but this with sound but no commentary and for those trying to access and watch games outside of Argentina many found that the broadcasts were subject to regional restrictions.

Tyc - hard to navigate site !

Tyc – hard to navigate site !

Those with the savvy could , as I was able to do with some difficulty for the games featuring teams from Argentina,  use the trusted “Hola “ Google Chrome extension which overcomes regional barriers by enabling you to appear to be browsing from the country where there are no regional restrictions in play.

Promising but deceptively selective !

Promising but deceptively selective !

Even without language issues I found it frustratingly difficult to find the relevant live feed on the Tyc website and had to rely on fans Tweeting me direct urls

Relatively simple & affordable technology is available as an alternative to cover  * live stream games -mainstream broadcasters are not essential.

Relatively simple & affordable technology is available as an alternative to cover * live stream games -mainstream broadcasters are not essential.

But, as with Star TV, in addition to time differences both theirs and the Tyc websites proved very challenging to find the actual source of the live feeds .  Naturally, without the broadcasting rights, individual hockey governing bodies around the world would not be able to make public , nor be seen to be privy to helping fans get around restrictions by for example Tweeting alternative live feed URLS although individual fans are not constrained in that regard. ( Most if not all international hockey organisations do a valiant job, particularly on Twitter, announcing  games and then providing updates via live tweet commentary which also helps fans and supporters of the games to have at least some access to what is going on)

Even semi final between hosts & USA not televised due to rights issues.  (image source PAGH website )

Even semi final between hosts & USA not televised due to rights issues. (image source PAGH website )

 

ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, MONEY , MONEY  NOT SPORT ?

The issue is that of the trend in the way broadcasting rights are sold en masse and to me it appears very odd that the sports global governing body, the International hockey Federation (FIH) and the Pan Am Games Hockey Federation were both disenfranchised by this blanket broadcasting rights deal on offer even though in fact no provision was in place, it appears, to have field hockey games covered by TV cameras at all in Toronto.  In effect, bizarrely it seem to me,  the game somehow   does not own its own image rights and therefore is unable to license rights to view its brand and thus both gain income from it and help raise the profile of the game  and help it reach new audiences.  That does not appear to have been an issue for the International Triathlon Union who are world leaders in covering their sport proactively.

The Pan Am Hockey organisation published an explanation of the issues in detail and  they have it transpires valiantly tried to overcome them without success.

“ This company ( 3rd party to who all rights were sold) has no real interest in the Games themselves, in the competitions or in the sports fans; they are a financial institution needing a return on their investment and they categorically refused to let the continental sport organizations stream the competitions not covered by TV, unless they purchase the broadcast rights for every single country where the stream would be accessible…

In other terms, they prefer to protect their rights to nothing (since there is no feed produced) rather than cooperate with the continental sport organizations in the interest of sport and sports fans…”

WHO SOLD SPORT OUT ?

(I am left puzzled in asking the question who in fact owns the rights for events like the Pan Am Games and thus who agreed, for profit I would hazard a guess , to allow all rights to all sports featured at the events( sports whether actually  televised or not) to be sold outright to a third party with no other interest  than in financial gain ??)

IS HOCKEY MARKETABLE ?

 

Field Hockey has an ever growing number of active participants globally and the standard of the game is ever improving and has  included changing some of the rules to make it more attractive for spectators and a wider public whose attention it may  thus far have escaped. So the brand itself is in a much better place than ever before. In the UK for example it is second only to football in the number of active participants it has and yet here it still struggles to attract adequate  investment from sponsors .

 

Globally, this broadcasting fiasco in Toronto, is a global symptom of a marketing reality of major sports events like Olympics  where sports like Hockey with genuine sporting values are not the focus of global highly ethical brands but to an extent victims of opportunistic global brands  milking a good thing & paying for the kudos of appearing ethical ! It  no fault of the sport or its governance . The Pan Am Games throws up key issues which can only be addressed by the sport being even more proactive in marketing and broadcasting including securing rights to its own brand.

Live streaming not terrestrial TV is the future of all sports both as public  access to them  is increasingly on line through phones and a range of other hand held devices.

As with the London Olympics, where spectator numbers for hockey outstripped all other competitive team games , hockey has proved already that it is a marketable and potentially far more popular sport than current broadcaster interest suggests.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT (It is not without irony that the UK ,Europe ,Americas and elsewhere are under very real threat from an obesity epidemic  a combination of poor diet, junk food preferences and lack of physical activity and sports like field hockey  offer role models to aspire to be like  plus bringing a range of health benefits to those involved in it at all levels. The inclusion of both Coca Cola and Mc Donalds as major sponsors of the London Olympics  really indicates the power of wealthy conglomerates  and perhaps their cynicism  . In both cases, with those brands aware that their products  cannot be radically altered to make them more healthy without losing considerable sales, investing heavily in sport sponsorship  enables them, by dint of association, to appear to be helping fund healthier options ! )

HOCKEY – THE BRAND

Hockey is a pacey dramatic sport to view on TV these days

Hockey is a pacey dramatic sport to view on TV these days

 

Field hockey as is an exciting and ethical  brand  where played at the highest level, attractive to watch and more than worthy of more funding and sponsor investment . Hockey  does not have an image problem in the same way for example that football does.

 

Hockey  embodies at all levels including international, the spirit of traditional sporting values and is free from doping scandals, corruption scandals at governing body level and free of racism and simulation and other forms of cheating to gain advantage and players who social behaviour brings the sport into disrepute.  Governing bodies internationally , along with the hockey community have made great strides in the last decade or so  to raise the profile of the game and to attract better inward investment  in a variety of ways including making very effective use of social media  but , for it to enjoy the profile it deserves it is regular  live broadcasts of major events that it desperately needs to broaden its audience to the extent I really do feel it deserves.

 

It appears that before the Pan Am Games urgent attention was given to trying to resolve these issues including investigating hiring a company to be present videoing the games , a considerable expense where 48 games in total were involved.  Essentially , rights for sports that do enjoy more media attention already were handsomely covered for live broadcasting and hockey would have had to bid very large sums to secure rights which was beyond the games current  means.

 

For more on this sad state of affairs read the Pan Am Hockey website article on the issue  http://www.panamhockey.org/en/news-374-no-television-coverage-or-streaming-for-hockey

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Las Leonas News -Injury Heartbreak for Carlita

Posted in Argentine Hockey, women in sport on June 25th, 2015 by John Coxon

Carla Rebecchi returned from the World Hockey League in Valencia nursing a serious knee injury which looks likely to put her out of the game for up to three months but will Las Leonas’s now regular use of an innovative portable hyperbaric chamber to aid player recovery also help speed her return to full fitness ? Let’s hope so. las leonas shirt

With a number of talented young débutantes now in the Argentina ( Las Leonas )  squad following the post Olympics departure of a number of experienced players including the amazing Luciana Aymar, getting as much  international experience as possible is of course vital.  But so is the reassuring security and continuity provided by training and playing with  inspirational long-serving key senior  players that remain like Carla.

Carla Rebecchi

As  the promising new squad have weathered the test of the World Hockey League tournament in Valencia recently it is no doubt a  hard blow to find  that their inspirational multi-capped attacking forward, Carla Rebecchi has sustained a serious knee injury which means she will take no part in the next biggie for the team , the Pan American Games, July 13th -25 th. This year it is  to be held in Torronto where they will be hoping to recapture the title from the USA.

But as if , in the match for third and fourth place unluckily failing to beat  the Germans ( in the penalty shoot-out when the two sides drew 1-1 at the end of regular time,) wasn’t hard enough to take ,   ominously the joint leading tournament scorer , ( along with GB’s Sophie Bray), Carla Rebecchi suffered a knee problem that saw her unable to finish the game and her departure, as such a talented attacking forward ,  may have been  critical in the team failing to put that  game to bed in normal time.

carlita

 

This Tuesday past, on arrival back in Argentina with the team, Carla underwent  tests  in the capital to assess the extent of the knee  injury. The Confederación Argentina de Hockey (CAH)  medical staff confirmed later in a  press release  that the Carla has “an osteochondral condition in the loading area of ​​the medial condyle”. ( That essentially is a serious tear in the cartilage of her left knee.)

According to the team doctor  Dr. Javier Lovera, for this kind of  injury to heal requires complete rest from  sports for between  1-3 months depending on how the healing process progresses. As a result Carla will be have no prospect of being  fit to take part in the up and coming Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Please note – This part of my report includes my own translation from a  CAH press release 23/6/2015  in Spanish . The original text  can be found here

REPOSO DEPORTIVO PARA CARLA REBECCHI

 

Although it is not possible to predict the actual length of time that Carla is going to have to take to make a full recovery this process will very likely be accelerated because   the team doctor and physios have been making regular use of innovative recovery technology which co-incidentally also speeds recovery particularly well with muscle ligament  injuries.

Back in December 2014 the CAH announced that they were the first international  hockey team to implement and make regular  use of a dedicated (highly portable )  hyperbaric chamber mainly to assist players recovery after matches  and first used during the Champions Trophy at Mendoza to aid the squad’s recovery and performance  and as an valuable  addition to the more usual  treatment for the players  with regenerative tasks like ice baths, massage therapy sessions and working with their five dedicated physiotherapists on site.

(“Hyperbaric medicine is based inducing a large increase of the blood oxygen level (Hyperoxia). The oxygen increase is obtained by dissolving this gas in blood plasma, breathing it in high concentrations at an above-normal atmospheric pressure, in chambers specially designed for this purpose. Basically, this process has an anti-inflammatory action and helps tissue regeneration, providing a whole series of benefits to the body and reducing the damage caused by Hypoxia (lack of Oxygen)”      More details of how this process works and benefits to  players can be found in this press release ( place your cursor on the text, right click and select translate into English is you don’t read Spanish !)

EL NOVEDOSO DISPOSITIVO CON EL QUE SE RECUPERAN LAS LEONAS.

You may also like to visit the website of the company who produce and market this innovative medical equipment  used with the Argentina  players  here  REVITALAIR.COM

………………………

Las Leonas's #27 defender Noel Barrioneuvo with myself , champion's Trophy press room 2010!

Las Leonas #27 defender Noel Barrioneuvo with myself , Champion’s Trophy press room 2010! ( Image courtesy of my friend & colleague FIH photographer Dr Wolfgang Sternberger )

 

You may recall that the Las Leonas #27 and drag flick specialist Noey Barrioneuvo suffered a similar injury in the Spring of 2012 in the run up to the Olympics but still travelled to the Riverbank with the squad  when they took part in the four nations Pre-Olympic Invitational . There she watched all the games and supported the team while following specific treatment and an individualised therapy and training programme.

carlarebecchi[1]_1

 

NEXT UP FOR LAS LEONAS  – PAN AMERICAN GAMES JULY 13TH IN CANADA 

SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT  

No doubt, because  the coaching and technical staff appreciate the value of senior players being  there to encourage and inspire the talented younger players who are relatively new to the squad , Carla will, I believe ( earnestly hope !)  travel with the squad to Toronto. Of course we are also  used to Carla taking the role of spokesperson for the team for post game interviews / press conferences because of her command of  English & ease with the media.

The Pan Am tournament requires a named squad of 16 (not the 18 required for Valencia) and from that squad Carla but also Sofia Toccalino will not play.  Coach Santiago Capurro confirmed his squad for Toronto earlier todaySofia along with Mariela Scarone, will train with the squad at the Centro Nacional De Alto Rendimiento Deportivo (CENARD) in the Argentine capital  Buenos Aires as reserves.  The squad will resume intensive training together there on July 1st and then fly  to Canada  on the  8th.

Habif2

Argentina will play in  Group A with Mexico their first opponents Monday 13th July . Later they tackle the hosts on the 15th . The first round ends on Friday 17th when Las Leonas will  take on the Dominican Republic .  (Group B  consists of Chile, Cuba, Uruguay and an ever improving United States in what should no doubt  be a two horse race.

The formidable in nets Belen Succi.

The formidable in nets Belen Succi!

The full squad will be as follows :-

1. Belen Succi (GK)

2. Florence Mutio (GK)

3. Maria del Pilar Romang

4. Noel Barrionuevo

5.  Agustina Habif

6.  Julia Gomes Fantasia

7.  Florence Habif

8. Macarena Rodríguez

9. Rocio Sanchez Moccia

10. Paula Ortiz

11. Josefina Sruoga

12. Jimena Cedres

13. Luciana Molina

14.  Agustina Albertarrio

15. Martina Cavallero

16. Delfina Merino

Reserves –

17.  Sofia Toccalino

18. Mariela Scarone

 

(my source for squad news and Pan Am Games details is Prensa CAH- originally published on the CAH website  in Spanish 24/06/2015)

ADDENDUM   – Common hockey Injuries ?

Considering the additional demands of the modern game at the highest level in just the last decade or so  particularly in terms of levels of physical fitness and the sheer pace  demanded throughout each game plus usually rigorous virtually full time training most days of the week this inevitably places additional considerable strain on the athletes bodies, especially perhaps the joints. In addition ,  of course the need for players in teams who play the attack minded game  to twist and turn and suddenly accelerate from a standing start (and this on a solid unforgiving surface)  it is remarkable that the number of tear  injuries isn’t far more.

In fact most serious injuries at this level and throughout the game at all levels  are the result of being struck by the ball but the range of potential injuries is actually  broad as this useful factual article from Australian Consultant Physiotherapist John Miller details  for us :-

“Common field hockey injuries 

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