This fall, I've flipped over field hockey. I used to rate it somewhere between NASCAR and pro wrestling as sports that didn't interest me one bit.
Then my daughter started playing field hockey for Einstein High School. I was hooked. That's one of the great things that kids do when they play different sports: They make fans of their moms and dads. You don't think all those adults would be standing around soccer fields cheering every Saturday if their kids weren't playing, do you?
Anyway, sitting in the stands and rooting for the Titans has made this dad, who was raised on football, baseball and basketball, realize a few things about field hockey.
The game is much faster and tougher than I thought, especially on the high school varsity level. Field hockey is not for the faint of heart. Sticks are flying, the ball's buzzing, and the girls are sprinting up and down the field. In fact, I wonder why, with all those sticks and that hard-as-a-rock rubber ball, the girls don't wear some kind of eye protection as they do in lacrosse.
I also wonder why more American boys don't play the game. Field hockey has been an Olympic sport for men since 1908. Women's field hockey didn't become an Olympic sport until 1980. Guys from Australia, the Netherlands, India, Pakistan and a host of other countries play real rock-'em, sock-'em field hockey. Don't worry, the guys don't have to wear skirts!
Now, I am not saying that the game is perfect. There are too many whistles for my liking. The long grass on some fields can really slow the game. And goals are as hard to get as in World Cup soccer.
Still, it's nice to have a game that kids don't have to start when they are 6 or 7 years old to feel that they can play. Because field hockey is not super-popular like soccer, plenty of girls play on high school teams even though they didn't pick up a stick until ninth grade. At some schools, field hockey is a great way to get into high school sports.
So, if you are tired of soccer or think that softball is too slow, or if you are just on the lookout for another sport, check out high school field hockey. It's playoff time, so some of the best high school teams are playing for championships.
You'll be surprised by how exciting field hockey can be. I know I was.
Correction: Last week, I said that George W. Bush, when he co-owned the Texas Rangers, traded Sammy Sosa to the Chicago Cubs. Sosa was traded to the Chicago White Sox.
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's Friday sports column and is the author of sports novels for kids.