NEW DELHI, Oct 12, 2010 (AFP) - Prime time television coverage in Australia could have influenced the bizarre scheduling of the Commonwealth Games hockey, former Aussie great Rechelle Hawkes said Tuesday.
Hawkes, who led the Hockeyroos with distinction for eight years, said athlete safety should take priority over whether a match is beamed live to prime time audience.
"The scheduling may have been done to suit television audiences off the east coast (of Australia)," she told AFP. "But you must take into account athlete safety over TV coverage.
"Safety of the player should be paramount. In these conditions the players could get very sick. It (scheduling) could be because the timings are conducive to the audiences in countries like Australia.
"Games can always be telecast later. The message that I want to give out is that we should look after our players first."
The hockey competition, one of the truly world class events in the Games, has seen many of the matches being played in temperatures often hitting the 40 degree mark.
Back-to-back matches, coupled with the heat, has reduced the sport to one of endurance rather than skill, prompting stiff criticism from players and coaches.
Hawkes, who has three Olympic golds (1988, 1996, and 2000) and two in the World Cups, apart from the title triumph in the 1998 Commonwealth Games, said the scheduling had been unfair to some teams.
"To have games in the middle of the day when the sun is at hottest is inhuman. Some teams have played more games in the morning than others, which is downright unfair.
"Australian women have had three afternoon games, one at 8:30 in the morning and a semis at 11. They have not got a single evening game. "This makes the playing field uneven. When you play back-to-back matches in this sort of heat and humidity, you don't get time to recover.
"The event should have been scheduled in a way that the majority of games were played in the evening," said the former player who is here as an expert TV commentator.