Let’s not get hyped up about hype

The Hockey Paper - - FEATURE OPINION -

In the scheme of things, Eng­land Hockey’s mar­ket­ing depart­ment didn’t need to worry about fur­ther pro­mot­ing Eng­land women’s first ma­jor in­ter­na­tional in the UK since the Rio Games.

The ‘sold out’ signs for their Olympic re­match with the Dutch went up on­line just one hour af­ter go­ing on gen­eral sale.

But hype is hype and when we have to wait so long to see our stars, why not give the match as much ex­po­sure as pos­si­ble?

So, on Valen­tine’s Day, Eng­land Hockey re­leased a tweet en­ti­tled ‘Break­ing hearts since 2013’ along­side the ‘Clash of the Cham­pi­ons’ slo­gan re­fer­ring to the June clash.

The na­tional gov­ern­ing body prob­a­bly didn’t in­tend to pro­voke the dis­cord which sub­se­quently opened up on­line.

There were those who called the pro­mo­tion ‘crass’ and ‘dis­re­spect­ful’. Oth­ers saw it as a bit of fun. Move along, no news here. Af­ter all, haven’t we got to fo­cus on an English do­mes­tic club ac­tu­ally do­ing well in Europe?

A day af­ter the Valen­tine’s Day­furore, Bay­ern Mu­nich mocked Arse­nal on Twit­ter and every­one had a chor­tle.

Ac­com­pa­nied with two im­ages of the 5-1 score line fol­low­ing an­other Cham­pi­ons League ham­mer­ing, the Ger­man giants said: “Same again next year,” along­side a wav­ing emoji.

A big sport with an even wider au­di­ence, yet no con­tro­versy. On a daily scale, there are plenty more newslines to be had when it comes to football. No such luck with hockey, of course.

Nearly 20 years ago, then 18-year-old Eng­land in­ter­na­tional Lu­cilla Wright was caught up in a controversial ad­ver­tise­ment in a lo­cal mag­a­zine. ‘8:30, my place’ ran the ad, with Wright pic­tured ly­ing provoca­tively on a bed. It was a bid to pick up ticket sales ahead of an up­com­ing clash with Aus­tralia.

The train of thought from the as­so­ci­a­tion’s mar­ket­ing depart­ment at the time was that Aus­tralia would play in all-in-one ly­cra kit, yet the pro­mo­tional gim­mick caught the at­ten­tion of na­tional news­pa­pers for mostly the wrong rea­son.

Then, four years ago, an Ar­gen­tine hockey player who was filmed – as part of a gov­ern­men­tal video – do­ing step-ups on a Bri­tish war me­mo­rial on the Falk­land Is­lands was dropped from the coun­try’s squad ahead of the Lon­don Olympics for “sport­ing rea­sons”.

These two episodes are, of course, far re­moved from last week’s pro­mo­tion.

The only con­se­quences for Eng­land will surely come on the pitch. For Dutch Hockey has re­mained silent on the is­sue.

So ex­pect the im­age – as Nick Irvine points out in his col­umn this week – to be pinned up in the Lee Val­ley away dress­ing room come June. Game on.

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