Field hockey, often assumed to be a completely female sport, remains and was a male sport in its beginnings in England.
Field hockey is played with two opposing teams of 11 players each who use sticks curved at the ends with one side flat, the only side that can touch the ball. Players use these sticks to hit a small hard ball into their opponent's goal. A game, usually played on grass, is comprised of two 35 minute halves with a break of 5 to 10 minutes in between. The game clock always runs except in the case of injury.
The goalkeeper, the only player allowed to use parts of their body instead of just their stick to stop the ball, deserves much of the credit in a good game. Because of minimal padding, goalkeepers have some agility, but endure plenty of battery. Through many games, though only on the high school level, I noticed that goalkeepers sometimes received blame instead of recognition. It seems they only got praise for game-deciding saves but not crucial saves within a lost game or during a rush when a score from the opposing team was eventually made.
Since field hockey lacks as much commercialization as some other sports in the U.S., it usually only has nationwide visibility during the Olympics or World Cup, but hardly even then. Most local visibility is in middle- and high school and university competition, with mostly female players. Due to its lack of prominence on a more professional level, I idolized NHL players instead, most of who are male. Field hockey is quite competitive and physical, but not to the point of inflicting serious injuries. I thought it was a soft sport until I started playing myself.
I began playing field hockey in eighth grade at Burnet Junior High School (when it was still around) because I got to wear the cutest pleated skirts, a crummy reason. For four years, I played left wing and right center and got just one yellow card I had to wear pinned to my skirt for the rest of the game. Two things I learned that often should be applied more often, even in NHL games are: never pass the ball or puck in front of your own goal, and if you're tripped, don't wait for a call- just get up, get up! (unless of course, you're injured.)