Former Houston Dynamo forward Brian Ching has already been in the news once today for criticizing Eddie Johnson, but given his role as Managing Director of the NWSL’s Houston Dash, a tweet from the former U.S. international has provided another bit of news. Though the idea of cooling breaks seems to have been met with a positive reception by the league’s fan base, the Dash executive questioned the need for the league’s new policy.
The comments came after Wednesday’s announcement the women’s first division had implemented a procedure that would allow for 30th and 75th minute breaks should the heat index at a match reach 89 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured one hour before kickoff.
Referencing seven years’ playing experience with the Dynamo, Ching questioned the need for the procedure, which saw Wednesday’s meeting between the Dash and league-leading Seattle Reign fall under the guidelines.
It’s strange to see a league executive speak out against what’s supposed to be a safety measure, though there are some valid criticisms of the league’s decision. Whether 89 degrees is the right threshold has been the strongest.
Ching’s comments, however, reference something different. There’s a clear “two miles in the snow” feel to his tweet, with his “back in the day” appeal implying soccer was just fine the way it was. The World Cup puts some new-fangled idea in people’s heads, and all of a sudden the rest of us have to follow?
Of course, it’s not great logic, nor should we expect Twitter to be filled with thought out, cogent appeals. Still, there’s a closed-mindedness to this that becomes unsettling when we’re talking about issues to player safety. “Back in the day” doesn’t work regarding two-footed tackles, concussion protocol, or dehydration issues, particularly when the view’s coming from one of the league’s decision-makers. Whether Ching walked barefoot through his snow is irrelevant.
Perhaps the NWSL’s threshold is too low. Maybe the league can listen to dissent and raise the bar. But again, that’s not what Ching’s tweet is about. To him, what was good enough for 2007 Brian is good enough for the 2014 NWSL. While that isn’t the worst argument ever, it’s a mindset that would keep the game from evolving in the face of new information.
For somebody who’s setting policy at a club-wide level, it’s a discouraging point of view.