College Sports

Mike Jensen: Temple women sound off about the field hockey game they didn’t finish –- because of fireworks for football team

Cristen Barnett, a senior on Temple's field hockey team, remembers the end of Saturday's game through a veil of confusion.

"It was said that the fire marshal needed us evacuated," Barnett said after Monday's practice back at 13th and Girard. "So my first thought was that we're in danger, we need to be safe, get in a safe zone. But then finding out that was for fireworks for a football game ..."

The game was at Kent State, but the opponent was Maine. Both teams were told to stop after a first overtime, that there wasn't time to finish their game.

For fireworks.

"I think it's a very disappointing message," Barnett said of Kent State's move. "It's telling us that these fireworks and setting up for a football game are more important than finishing a Division I contest, a contest we've been working since last January for ... months that we put into this, in the spring and the offseason and then over the summer, we come back here. Those are the games we fight for and work for. We're in the gym, weight-lifting. To have that pulled from us ... "

That hard work, she said, the message sent from this game – "why are we doing it?"

Every television station in the city was at Temple's practice field on Tuesday for the first time Temple players were speaking about their game with 24th-ranked Maine that was rendered off the books.

"Hold on, hold on, hold on," one of the television photographers said as Lucy Reed, another Owls senior, got ready to talk. Reed laughed at the whole scene. She got it.

Most people out there get it. You don't stop a college sporting event for pregame fireworks. There is no precedent for such a thing, because ... how could there be?

After they'd already been embarrassed, Kent State officials got together and said more or less the right thing in a statement, apologizing to Temple and Maine, admitting the wrong decision was made, that they failed their own standards.

Fine. What administrators are paid for is being able to see around corners.

Don't try to support the decision in the name of football being king ... Football is pretty important at Temple, and Temple athletic director Pat Kraft, himself a former college football player, labeled the whole thing "simply unacceptable." (The field hockey game wasn't played on the football field. It was adjacent to it.)

You don't schedule a game if you don't think it can be completed. Stopping a game for daytime pregame fireworks ... whaaaat?

Some wonder whether a Title IX violation was committed here. Maybe a men's soccer game would have been just as likely to have been shut down. But a men's soccer game wasn't shut down. It was a field hockey game. You have to deal with the facts in front of you, not theoreticals. (One Title IX attorney I talked to on Tuesday wondered if a violation could be easily proven, given all the variables.)

Separate from the law, there is the message.

"What an appalling message to send to our daughters – that their sport, their grit, their drive matters less than a celebration of their male counterparts," U.S. Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) wrote on Twitter. "This is why we must continue to protect Title IX and support women's equality, on and off the field."

In the short-term, maybe there isn't much to do to help Temple or Maine players. You can't overcome a Title IX violation in a shootout.

Should there be repercussions for Kent State administrators? That's for that school to figure out. They've been embarrassed, nationally.

According to a source, Kent State's president did email Temple's president, but there has been no communication from Kent State's athletic administration beyond the public statement.

Temple would like to get the game officially counted by the NCAA, to help the Owls computer ranking. (Games need a winner to be counted by the NCAA.) There is some talk about that happening.

"Everyone that's a part of it is proud to have handled it the way we have," Reed said of the teams themselves.

Feel cheated?

"Yeah, I think it's frustrating – I think that's the best adjective to use," Reed said.

For fireworks.

"Once we figured that out, it was a little more frustrating," Reed said.

She stuck with that as the best adjective to use.

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