When we sent our last newsletter out following GB forward Sam Ward’s injury, we never expected the deluge of responses that followed.
It is why we are responding to readers’ viewpoints and publishing a five-page special on safety in hockey. The full package will only be available in print or digital in our next issue, if you subscribe by Tuesday.
But our reporting is not to be seen as a scaremongering exercise.
Far from it. We are simply acting on readers’ correspondence and growing concerns, namely that hockey is becoming too dangerous in some quarters of the game.
Speaking to coaches, players and readers over the last few weeks, it is a clear talking point which must be debated and potentially acted upon.
Despite Sam’s injury occurring in a circle attack and regarded as a “freak accident”, the subsequent emails we received centre upon varied areas of the game which many want tightening up – or even banned.
One leading coach and Olympian tells us that the reverse stick at junior level is becoming too dangerous, a ‘coconut shy’ for the next accident waiting to happen.
We will publish many of the letters we have received. Our coverage will also focus on how hockey can learn from protection in cricket, highlights how many head injuries are potentially going unreported at club level, while readers reason over whether there should be a PC ban altogether. Meanwhile England Hockey will respond to topics on concussion, face masks in open play and how clubs should be reporting head injuries.
Over the years I have covered campaigns or investigations in sport, I have never been involved in a story with so much feedback. One that was never intended to go far beyond simply reporting Sam’s injury and the hope that he will recover to play the game he loves.
But the outpouring of support for the GB forward has been laced with reader reaction towards the non-elite end of the sport. Our December issue’s main topic – safety in hockey – is now a must-read for clubs, parents and grass roots players alike.
Rod Gilmour, editor