Field Hockey Rules. Obstruction, a repair to the wording of the Explanation

Rules of Hockey: Obstruction – the wording.

I think there is unsatisfactory wording in the explanation of application of the Obstruction Rule – the Rule Proper is not too bad “Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ballif the meaning of ‘obstruct’ is understood and the word ‘attempting’ is not given a bizarre interpretation (two big ‘ifs’).

The problems begin immediately, in the first clause, and I will here deal only with this clause.

Players obstruct if they-

shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with the stick or any part of the body
(My underlining)

(in this instance, unlike the case of ‘legitimate evasive action’, ‘legitimate’ here above, obviously does mean ‘legal’, but probably not ‘genuine’ and clearly not ‘necessary’. ‘Legitimate’ is not a good choice of word for the Rule because it is ambiguous – I leave it out)

Why is the word “from” used? “from a legitimate tackle” It is generally the case that a legitimate (legal) tackle cannot be made or even attempted (Rule 9.13) if the ball is being shielded by a ball-holder from an opponent; so the ball is not being shielded from a legitimate tackle, a legal tackle cannot be made, is in fact being prevented, and illegally so, the ball being shielded with just that purpose.

This is clearer:-

Players obstruct if they:-

shield the ball with the stick or any part of the body to prevent or delay an opponent playing at the ball.

Replacing shield the ball from…” , which makes no sense when combined with the rest of the clause, with shield the ball … prevent… , (there is no need to mention a tackle at all, the Rule Proper does not), the suggested changes make sense of what is supposed to be an Explanation of application of the Rule – which does not at present make sense – and they would be sufficient as a repair to enable a basic understanding of the Rule. The word ‘from’ could be retained if it is felt to be necessary to the syntax.

Thus: – Players obstruct if they:-  shield the ball with the stick or any part of the body to prevent or delay an opponent from playing at the ball. but its inclusion adds nothing to the meaning of the sentence.





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