Foreign players on American rosters is the real travel ball

November 19, 2021

The foreign factor - The Final Four of Division I college field hockey begins this Friday, Nov. 19, featuring Liberty versus Michigan in one semifinal and Northwestern versus Harvard in the other. Liberty head coach Nikki Parsley and senior defender Darby Brennan earned their chops at Milford High School. Michigan assistant Ryan Langford is married to Maren Ford, a Cape kid and no joke of a player at Princeton. Northwestern features Alia Marshall, a Cape kid. And so I rolled down the roster at Harvard seeing if I could make a connection. There were 10 foreign players on the Crimson squad including six from England as well as a South African, Belgian, Irishwoman and Dutchwoman. I’m so not xenophobic – I thought the word began with a Z – but I was curious to look further. Liberty has five foreign players on the roster, Michigan has seven foreign players, and Northwestern has six foreign players. Talk about travel ball. Just an interesting system which doesn’t stop at sports. Many desired graduate school programs recruit foreign students, not because there are not enough qualified American applicants and not because these foreign students aren’t awesome and capable, but it has something/everything to do with money in and expenditures out. There is a thin membrane (not a real brain) between understanding how social systems work and becoming a wack job conspiracy theorist.

World by the tail - Young people and most people who have the world by the tail sometimes make stupid decisions, then engage in idiotic behaviors that can bring that tethered world to a crash landing into the walls of their own house. Duke basketball’s Michael Savarino, grandson of coach Mike Krzyzewski, was cited for DWI – he’s underage as well – while Paolo Banchero, projected No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, was cited for aiding and abetting DWI. It’s sort of like giving your car keys to your drunk friend so your drunk-butt self doesn’t get a DWI if you get stopped. Coach K is the grandpa and the coach, and I feel for him and both young men. Perhaps DWI/Dumb While Intoxicated trumps sober dumb every day of the week. 

Owning players - A part of me doesn’t understand why paid professional players aren’t free agents after every season. How does a franchise own a player or own his rights? I know contract law and all that, but if there were only one-year contracts, then the entire deck could be reshuffled after each season. Strange behaviors result when an athlete is forced to play in a place he doesn’t want to stay, and we have produced a new chapter in the Abnormal Psychology textbook. “Mentally Ill Millionaires.”  

Home on the scoreboard - A young man outside the fence at the Cape versus Polytech field hockey game at DE Turf emerged from the dark side and asked me, “Which one is the home team?” I thought “neutral venue,” so answered “Cape is in blue and white and Polytech is in black.” He grew annoyed, like I worked for him or something, “No, which team is home?” We were about to go to Abbott and Costello. “Home on the scoreboard. Which team is on the left and has three goals?” I told him, “Buy a ticket and find out!”

Snippets - Cape boys’ basketball last had a winning season in 2017-18, the year the wheels came off the wagon, when the Vikings finished the regular season 18-2 and were the No. 1 seed in the state tournament. The last three seasons, Cape has been 4-9, 6-13 and 8-12 for a combined 18-34. There are more than 50 girls out for Cape winter track, sometimes called indoor track. The word gets out: It’s a fun way to fitness whether you stay with track or go to another sport in the spring or fall. Cape has a 50-year tradition of winter track going back to the early ’70s when Marge Hickman, coach Tom’s wife, knitted blue/gold caps with a tassel on top for all those brave enough to race in parking lots and hallways, and at the Philadelphia Civic Center and the Spectrum. Head coaches Ellis Gaulden for boys and Tim Bamforth of the girls each report 50 athletes “out for indoors.” I once trained a high hurdler named Derrick in the Little Big House who flew over the hurdle like Renaldo Nehemiah, kept going, removed his Hickman hat on the fly and reverse-dunked like Darryl Dawkins, aka Chocolate Thunder, a name given to him by Stevie Wonder. No Cape track means no Fredman; they are the crew that named me. Go on now, git!  


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