At this year's Olympic Games, twelve men's and twelve women's teams are competing for medals in the sport of field hockey. Men's field hockey debuted as part of the Olympics way back in 1908, while women's field hockey didn't earn a spot in the rotation of sports until 1980, when the Games were held in Moscow.
An interesting mix of ice hockey and soccer, field hockey is played 11 v. 11 for two 35-minute halves, with the objective of hitting or "flicking" the ball into the opponent's goal with sticks. Much of the terminology and rules of the game are reminiscent of soccer, however kicking of the ball is not permitted. In many parts of the world, the sport is simply referred to as "hockey." But in countries where a sport like ice hockey is the norm, it takes on the name of "field hockey."
The Olympic field hockey is set up in a two tournament format - one for the women and one for the men. Each gender has been divided into two pools of six teams, with the top two teams in each pool moving on the semifinals for a heads up match to determine who will face off in the gold medal match.
In all, 192 men and 192 women will participate in field hockey at the London 2012 Games.
All of the field hockey games this year are being played at London's Riverbank Arena, which wasn't completed until the beginning of this year. Riverbank Arena boasts a blue pitch (playing area), and it's the first time in history that Olympic field hockey is being played on anything other than a green pitch.
On Tuesday, the United States women's team pulled off a stunner, beating favored Argentina 1-0. It marked only the second time that the U.S. had ever beaten Argentina in major competitions.
Today's Google Doodle is the 6th since the Game began on Friday. Google is celebrating a different sport each day with their Doodles.[Image courtesy London2012 site]