Brad Bates hasn't even been around a full school year and he's already been peppered with the Men's Lacrosse question. This is not new. The most predictable thing about any online chat with former AD Gene DeFilippo was a question about Men's Lacrosse. There is a group of supporters who won't rest until BC brings back a Lacrosse team. I've always been indifferent towards the movement and the sport but as I see Bates face the same line of questioning, I've come to the realization that BC Men's Lacrosse is more popular dead than it ever was alive.
First let me clarify for those who don't follow the sport: BC still has a Men's Lacrosse team. They play BU, Northeastern, UConn, and UNH. They travel to Florida and Texas. They wear Under Armour gear and have their own twitter feed, but you won't find an official mention of them on BCeagles.com. This is because we don't have a varsity (i.e. scholarship), NCAA sanctioned team. Our guys are technically club and play in the MCLA. We have a team and it is thriving, even as it is on the periphery of BC sports.
For a long time no one really cared about Men's Lacrosse at BC. We had some decent teams and some passionate Alumni, but the sport was never a priority. Lacrosse -- although firmly entrenched in New England -- was still a regional, preppy game. It didn't do much for the school on a national level. When Gene cut the program in 2002, there was some outrage from the Lax Alums, but most people following the situation understood that Title IX compliance was probably the biggest factor in its demise. BC Wrestling and Water Polo had their supporters too when they got cut during the same process.
Unlike the other budget and politics victims, Lax won't really go away. The Alumni still do their part. The media keeps mentioning how BC would be the perfect Lacrosse school. And of course the fans won't let our AD forget that we don't have a Varsity program. This persistence is making BC Men's Lacrosse more relevant than they ever were in the old days.
I feel for the guys currently representing BC on the field. They deserve financial support and the chance to compete at the sport's highest level. But I don't think anything is going to change. In order for Lacrosse to return, BC would either have to cut other active men's teams or create more women's teams to offset the reborn Men's program. But the only reason why there remains a sliver of hope is the passion still being shown for our Men's program. The fans may be a minority, but they are vocal. And then there is the actual team. Bates recently said that sports is the biggest marketing vehicle the school has. If the Men's team can become a MCLA power, that will get noticed by the right people. Michigan turned their MCLA run into a move to DI NCAA lacrosse.
I don't know what the future holds for men's team. I can't fake some sort of passion for the game, but I do have begrudging respect for the ardent supporters. They are annoying but at least they care about something. I do have one suggestion for them if they are serious about a full return of BC Lacrosse: change the narrative. Stop pestering Bates with questions about reinstating the sport. Instead use the chats and town halls to ask him what he thinks of the club team. If he plans on attending the games. If he'll go to the MCLA playoffs. Get media interest on the team. Get an article in BC Magazine. See if you can get local media to do stories. And it shouldn't be about "boo hoo" BC needs a lacrosse team. It should be about how great our team is. Positive attention and national success will push the right buttons. That is the next step.