Pulling for your country in the the Olympics sometimes means pretending to care about a sport you know nothing about. It’s easy to root for a team in basketball or soccer, but what about field hockey or synchronized swimming?
To help you pretend like you know something about the more obscure Olympic sports, we’ll be bringing you guides for
idiots novices so you can fake your way through a conversation or pretend like you know what’s happening while you watch. Previously: rugby sevens, handball and canoeing. Today: field hockey.
What the hell is it?
Field hockey isn’t that unfamiliar to Americans. More than 60,000 high school girls play, and it’s also an NCAA sport. But did you know men also play? Not so much in the U.S., but it's more common in India, Pakistan and Europe, among other places.
It’s sort of like ice hockey, except you can’t hit people and you’re not allowed to be lefthanded.
Why should you care?
USA! USA! The American women are ranked fifth in the world, which means a medal isn’t out of the question. They haven’t medaled since they hosted the Olympics in 1984.
If you’re a bit more sadistic, maybe you’ll watch to see if anyone is bloodied by a stray stick.
Is the U.S. any good?
Like I said, the women’s team is pretty solid, having achieved its highest-ever spot in the world rankings. They disappointed at the 2012 Olympics with a 12th-place finish, but came in fourth at the 2014 World Cup.
The men’s program is nearly non-existent.
Rio disaster threat level
On a scale of “unfinished infrastructure” to “favela inferno,” what are the odds this is event is a spectacular failure?
Unidentified floating trash
The stadium for field hockey looks pretty nice. But this is an outdoor event, so watch out for those pesky mosquitoes.
Who’s the favorite?
Germany won the men’s gold in 2012 and the Netherlands topped the women’s tournament. Both teams will be favored to repeat, which is kind of boring, honestly. Root for the U.S. to pull the upset.