Although the women found gold in the 2011 Pan American Games, it has evaded them in the Olympics.
Summer is here.
And with Summer 2012 beginning, the Olympics are only a few short months away.
The U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team is entering international competition red-hot off of a gold medal finish last year in the Pan-American Games. Using the momentum, they are in search of their first-ever gold medal at the Olympics.
Surprisingly, the United States has never won a gold or silver medal at the Olympics for women’s field hockey. Since 1983, the women’s national team has been competing on the international stage, yet they have never won the gold.
Although they did earn a bronze medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics, it was the closest these women have ever come to gold.
So, why has the U.S. squad struggled on the international stage?
Field hockey isn't traditionally a popular sport in the U.S.
Across the world, field hockey is a major sport—except in the U.S.
The modern game of field hockey was invented in England and is played all over Europe. But in the U.S., the game is relatively unknown.
Other countries' strong traditions of field hockey lead to strong teams—unfortunately the United States' field hockey tradition has a relatively short past.
The U.S. Women's team did not enter the international stage until 1983, and first competed in the Olympics in 1984.
For the women’s field hockey team, their tradition isn’t that of a highly successfully team.
Well, not yet.
Abby Wambach has become a huge part of the female sports culture.
The sports culture in the United States has always followed rigid lines.
Baseball has always been America’s pastime, while basketball and football gained popularity through the 1960s and 1970s.
Not surprisingly, these three are some of the most popular sports today. Field hockey just doesn't fall into the overall mainstream sports culture.
Even in Europe and Asia, field hockey has yet to make that jump into a widely-known sport.
Without a strong culture pushing the sport, will top athletes invest their talents in it?
The Superbowl is one of the most viewed sporting events every year.
The Superbowl, the World Series and the Finals have all helped push our nation into a three-sport country.
It’s hard to find a network that doesn’t mention football, baseball, or basketball.
These sports, paired with soccer, hockey, and racing make up the “Big 6” of media sports coverage.
When was the last time ESPN covered a live field hockey match that was taking place in the States?
Field hockey is left with almost zero exposure and little following or support and the U.S. Women’s team struggles to be seen by a nationwide audience.
The Red Sox got behind their fans in 2004, something women's field hockey never could.
A fan base can make or break a season.
The 2004 Red Sox, down three games to the Yankees, got behind their crowd and successfully broke the “Curse of the Bambino”.
When teams are backed by a group supporting them, success can seem to last longer and failures don’t hurt as bad.
The women’s national team has had a very limited following.
The sport isn’t well known throughout the U.S. and thus suffers in respects to fans. They'll need a major fan following in order for them to gain that momentum.
Katie O'Donnell leads a talented U.S. Field Hockey Team.
Many Americans believe hockey is played on ice. Well, they are right. But it is also played on land.
Field hockey is played in certain areas of the U.S. more than others.
Because field hockey is such a niche sport, many tremendous female athletes aren’t exposed to it.
This means that the sport has a disadvantage from a competition standpoint.
In the U.S., field hockey is far from being the most popular female sport.
With basketball, softball, and soccer leading the way for women’s athletics, field hockey is left with a smaller pool of strong athletes to choose from.
Fewer athletes means less talent, and that makes success very hard to find.
But this year, as the sport continues to grow in the U.S., optimism is high.
And so is the the level of talent on the young team.