Does changing a sport change its core?

Floorball has been getting more exposure in recent years. A lot of it is due to an increase in awareness that the sport exists. It’s seeing more consistent exposure through highlighting the marquee events the sport has. The World Floorball Championships are a big focus for the sport, but the biggest event so far has been the World Games. Floorball was included in the 2017 games in Poland, and will be in the 2022 Games in the United States. All of this is focused on paving the way for Floorball to be included in the Olympics.

Floorball has a lot going for it making it a great sporting event, but there are some challenges ahead as the sport continues to develop.

One of the largest challenges to the sport is the size of the field. A standard Floorball field is 40×20 meters (132-66ft approx.). The size of that space make it increasingly challenging for developing countries to regularly play on a regulation field. On top of that finding a facility to house that space is equally challenging, especially in the North America.

A field that size would take up the entire gym space at most recreational facilities, and would be far too big for most school gyms. Some might argue that a solution is making the field smaller while playing with less players. While I’m an advocate of this, because you use what you have. However, at the highest levels of the sport, does this ruin the product? Could it possibly help?

A great component to the sport is that it is malleable through a learning curve, available space, and development of the players. However, if developing countries are to have a chance competing at the top levels they have to be comfortable playing on the traditional field. It’s one thing to play basketball on a high school court, but different when you transition to college or pros. Things are just different from space on the court to distance to the basket. The same rings true with Floorball. While in the U.S. program, leagues, and clubs can develop, if they don’t regularly play on a traditional field they will always be at a slight disadvantage.

Part of the question Floorball faces as it develops is, does it need to change, and if so how does it change? The IFF is looking to make some changes to the sport as it progresses, obviously looking to fit the needs of events like the World Games and Olympics. There is talk about shortening the match time from 20 to 15min periods. One potential change I could see would be to shorten the field and have less players. (note: I don’t know of any proposal or conversation from the IFF about this, just my opinion).

However, as mentioned before does changing this sport change its core? There’s NBA basketball, and International Basketball. NHL and International Hockey. These sports are playing a similar game, but there are differences to the game, including size of the playing surface, and thus style of play.

I’ve tried to think about this from both sides. On one hand you have organizations, clubs, and leagues who have been developing Floorball into its current form for decades. While change can be tough and usually not greeted well it can help. I’m not sure what changes would be needed if any. I like the current format as it is. I think the sport has all the ingredients to shine as a power sport.

However, on the flip side, as someone who is working to develop the sport at the beginning stages and build players to compete internationally it’s tough to train and have the necessary equipment and space to do so. There is ample access to high school or college space, but that tends to be smaller than what is needed. That’s not the sports problem, but creates initial hurdles in player development. Who knows where things will go, but I hope changes that are made benefit the sport for everyone in the long-run.