Field Hockey Rules: Intersubjectivity

There are several meanings given to the term intersubjectivity which are outlined in the following Wikipedia article.

It begins.  In its weakest sense, intersubjectivity refers to agreement. There is intersubjectivity between people if they agree on a given set of meanings or a definition of the situation. It has been defined as “the sharing of subjective states by two or more individuals.

There is, for example, agreement among the followers of several religions that humans have a spirit or soul and that there is a heaven, and also a hell, where the soul may be sent for eternity after physical death by a God; although there are many things the same religions do not agree about at all: such as which has the only God. Such agreement is generally referred to within a single religion as a universal or overwhelming consensus (or divine revelation), meaning that the holders of consensus views will dismiss and brush aside as irrelevant, any objection by individuals or even quite large groups of people. (The establishment of Protestantism, the name itself meaning ‘protesting’, is an object lesson in the self-destruction of so called Christians, as in the following centuries Catholics and Protestants, in turn dominant, set about murdering each other as fast as possible, notably in England, Ireland, France and Germany, but in other European countries too.)

There are many historical examples of individual objectors to widespread intersubjectivity (faith) being punished for dissent, even executed for it, as heretics, so the imposition of consensus, which should be a contradiction in terms and an impossibility, was and is very much a reality. Noam Chomsky has much to say about the imposition of consensus as far ‘the media’ and big multi-national corporations are concerned. No-one can be unaware of the outrage of muti-national corporations -banks etc. – over the democratic vote that the UK leave the European Union and how they have worked – with media help – to persuade voters that the result of a majority vote was or is unconstitutional and unfair and that the large minority are being badly treated. We are treated to the hilarious spectacle of one set of politicians accusing another of lying to voters before the referendum – when everyone should know that both sides ’embroidered’ or concealed facts – and are still doing so. The same kind of tactics are being used in the on-going debate about ‘global warming’, this produces total confusion, because there is no accepted authority that can be believed (it is not even clear which bodies are the authorities), with the result that most people distance themselves from all discussion of the subject. Discussion of the dangerously played ball is treated in the same way by those who participate in hockey related activities because the Rule is so subjectively applied that it has become just a matter of personal interpretation or opinion.

One of the best known examples of an imposed consensus is to do with a previous religious doctrine that the earth is the centre of the universe and therefore the sun and stars revolve around it. When Copernicus knew he was near to his death he published his observations and conclusions concerning the revolution of the earth and other planets around the sun, but two hundred years after his death many astronomers still placed the earth at the centre of the universe and insisted the sun traveled around it. One notable exception was another scientist, whose observations supported the views of Copernicus, by the name of Galileo Galilei. Galilei did publish his views and because of them was summoned to appear before the Inquisitors of the Roman Catholic Church and forced to recant. He was then placed in house arrest for the remainder of his life.

I have recently been exposed to an argument based on nothing more than a declared intersubjectvity or a supposed consensus. My life and freedom of movement are not under threat because of it, but my sanity may well be, as fighting against an irrational consensus feels to me much as I imagine arguing with a thickly padded brick wall might feel. This is a battle that has been going on for more than thirty years, and as Galileo was able to write two books during his house arrest, (but was not of course able continue to write and publish his arguments for the concept of a solar system to replace a central earth system), I have some idea how he must have felt. I can publish my comments about the Rules of Hockey and the application of them, but share with Galileo, being cast as a lone dissenter who is fighting what is declared to be a lost battle against the ‘common sense’ of ‘everyone else’.

Except that is not true. Many people agree with much of what I have written and have said so to me. The frustrating thing is, that in spite of that, they still follow what they themselves admit to be a bizarre consensus. The latest example arose from comment (which I have set out below and, more fully, again in a later article) made to this video which I posted to YouTube some months ago. The comment concerns in particular the last incident shown on the video clip. The first incident is very obviously a deliberate foul by the ESP player in possession of the ball. For which he wanted a penalty corner awarded, but was eventually given a free ball as the defender’s feet were outside the circle. The still from the video below shows, the different later incident in the same match, the moment the MAL player (the comment made was about), deliberately lifted the ball over the opponent’s tackle attempt and into his leg. There was no intention to make a pass or any attempt made to take the ball around the defender.


Michal Margolien

The defender should be responsible for their feet (last section of the video), especially since there was an attacker right behind them.

You are saying that if a defender fails to defend a forcing offence (yes forcing is still an offence if ‘other Rules’ are contravened) and is hit with the ball then the defender should be penalised. That cannot be so, it is illogical. The attacker was in clear contravention of what is given in Explanation of application to Rule 9.9.; that is the attacker committed a dangerous play offence – and it looks to me as if he did so deliberately.

I must add that if it is considered that a defender is obliged to defend his feet and legs (which should not in any case be ‘attacked’ with the ball), then the player in possession of the ball is obliged, by the same reasoning, to have the skill to make a pass without hitting his opponent with the ball. It is unreasonable and unfair to demand a difficult skill from a defender but not to require basic competence from an attacker who is in possession of the ball.

Michal Margolien
I do understand your reasoning and I like it 🙂 However, this is how hockey umpiring is interpreted and umpired these days and is being consistently blown (aka players expect it).


Michal, I would prefer that you offered argument against my reasoning other than declaring “that is how it is interpreted these days”. Why do we have bizarre interpretation; that is interpretation that does not logically interpret the wording given in the Rule and Explanation of Application? Convince me to change my mind, give me reason to do so.

Michal Margolien
As long as this is the vast majority consensus interpretation with the HRB, umpire managers, umpires and the hockey world in general, this issue is not that important to me in my life to fight for it but I cross my fingers for you.


ZigZag Hockey.

(part) It has always annoyed or amused me to hear the fatuous excuse ‘player expectation’, as it has usually come from those who frequently and loudly declare that players do not know the Rules of Hockey. Okay, that may be so, but how can players know the Rules of Hockey if umpires are applying something else? They can only learn what is in the rule-book and then become aware that this is not adhered to.

Michael agrees with me, supports my reasoning and wishes me luck, but he does not intend to do anything other than follow the dominant intersubjectivity, so for how long is this “vast majority consensus interpretation” to exist, if it is not, as it should be, challenged by umpires? The Australian international player Simon Orchard recently criticized umpiring practice and although an umpire himself (as I was for over thirty years) was roundly condemned by the very people who should have supported him – other umpires.

There is of course a minority consensus, the one between the FIH Rules Committee and the FIH Executive about what is printed in the Rules of Hockey, but it seems that when it comes to the interpretation of words and the application of the published Rules, there are FIH Committee Members who have opinions concerning ‘common practice’ and other opinions, which conflict with their views about common practice and about the use and understanding of the English language.

In the 16th Century not many people were much bothered about whether the Earth went around the Sun or the Sun around the Earth. They certainly were not prepared to put themselves at risk of imprisonment or death by challenging the consensus imposed by a powerful church. People have not changed much in this regard in the last five hundred years (but religions have been replaced to a large extent by other entities). I just happen to be one of those individuals who would prefer not to have opinion imposed on me and declared by others to be my own (or that it should be my own just because ‘the vast majority’ are said, by a few proponents, to agree with it) – the current arguments about global warming come to mind again – one side shouting “Imminent danger” and “scientific concensus” and the other “Fraudulent manipulation of data”.

I think it essential that an umpire be able to distinguish between an objective and a subjective opinion and be able to make an honest subjective decision (based on evidence and the required criteria for an offence) when required to do so in a hockey match; that is a decision based on the actions seen and a literal interpretation of the wording of the Rules of Hockey, whatever other people may think about that interpretation. But of course most don’t think or make decisions at all, it’s done for them, and the criteria is not subjective, but objective:  the ball hit a leg so that ‘use’ of the body must be penalised without regard for subjective criterion (intention or advantage gained), because that is ‘the interpretation’ and what players expect (an irrelevance based on circular reasoning ). Umpires themselves should rid the game of such clueless application, not connive in the imposition of it.

Since writing this article I have come to consider the wider term ‘meme’ to be a suitable replacement for ‘intersubjectivity’ in the context of the regulation of hockey; see:-



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