Kent State Apologizes . . .

The National Field Hockey Coaches Association condemned Saturday’s events:

“The optics and the messaging to every field hockey program and to every field hockey player are that while they matter, they don’t matter more than pre-game football festivities,” the statement reads. “We see this as a terrible message being communicated to female student-athletes in this year of 2019. This decision was extremely damaging not only for the participating athletes, their coaches, and their families but for all female student-athletes.” 

The NFHCA statement asks Kent State University to “do some soul searching and take responsibility for the lack of judgment and poor-decision making.” 

Monday evening, following Saturday morning’s events, Kent State Athletic Director Joel Nielson issued this apology:

In hindsight, a different decision should have been made to ultimately ensure the game reached its conclusion. We hold ourselves to a very high standard, and in this situation, we failed,” the statement reads in part. 

“I realize that my statement does not undo the negative impact on the student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans who deserve to see their teams compete in a full contest. Also, we let down the field hockey community and its supporters as a whole.”

You’re right, Joel. It doesn’t take back the blatant slap in the face to women field hockey players and female athletes everywhere. Hopefully, though, this incident will serve as a clarion call to all female athletes and those who support fair and equitable treatment of girls’ and women’s sports. The fact that it took over 48 hours and massive backlash from multiple national media sources to produce this apology alone says enough. Every time your daughter’s practice is rescheduled because the football team “needs the field”, speak up. Every time your daughter’s team gets the less desirable field or rink, let the administrators know. Every time you see an inequity – in coaching, refereeing, locker rooms, uniforms – stand up, make a fuss and compel those in authority to do what is RIGHT. I’m 56 years old, I have five daughters, and I wish I had made more of a fuss over the years because heaven knows they shouldn’t still be dealing with this in 2019! (And, by the way, NCAA, where are you???)

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Helen A. “Nellie” Drew is an expert in sports law, including professional and amateur sports issues ranging from NCAA compliance and Title IX matters to facility construction, discipline of professional athletes, collective bargaining and franchise issues. Drew formerly served as an officer and in-house counsel to the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League, after previously working as outside counsel to the Sabres and the NHL. Among her more interesting experiences were assisting former USSR superstar Alexander Mogilny in obtaining asylum status in the U.S. and working on multiple NHL expansions, including San Jose, Ottawa, Florida and Tampa Bay.
Drew teaches a variety of courses that incorporate topics such as drug testing in professional sports and professional player contract negotiation and arbitration. She is especially interested in the evolving research and litigation concerning concussions in both amateur and professional sports.

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