Tuesday, March 05, 2013

How its death might save Men's Lacrosse

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.


mod34b said...

ATL, you say: " Lacrosse -- although firmly entrenched in New England -- was still a regional, preppy game"

1. The hotbed for Lax is is Long Island and Maryland. Yes, LAX is played throughout New England, but the epicenter is south of NE. Lax is the fastest growing team sport in the US. Even ND (Indiana) has an excellent team. UVA v ND drew over 10,000 fans last year ( SEE THIS

2. It is not a "preppy" sport. Go down to LI. Check out some Nassau County high schools; check out Ward Melville High School. Not preppy. Think more Methy than Preppy. Sure preps play. Preppy-ish towns on LI - Manhasset and Cold Spring Harbor, for example - excel in Lax. But it is well beyond a preppy sport, and ahs been for decades.

3. "For a long time no one really cared about Men's Lacrosse at BC" BC Lax ALWAYS generated more interest than BC BASEBALL. Baseball was always a joke and still is an embarrassment to BC.

FakeShalomTfree said...

I'll stop short of calling baseball an embarrassment to BC, but we have a far better chance at being competitive on the national level at lax than we do at baseball. Just take a look at UMass!

Massachusetts is no where near the lacrosse hotbed as Maryland or Long Island, but the sport has grown considerably in recent years and there is plenty of home-grown talent to choose from

Laxman said...

The big difference today from when the team was cut was how much more popular the game has become in NE. There are high quality HS teams that compete on a national level. No Mass and Ct. lag behind L.I., Upstate NY and Maryland but the number of quality players coming out of HS in NE is growing rapidly.

The NCAA has held the Final Four at Foxboro twice now and it was decently attended, especially in light of how far it is from the traditional lax hotbeds.
I think you have a far greater chance of supporting another D1 program in NE than you do football (Umass).

I like your ideas about how to approach Bates in general. What I would be very interested in seeing is if students actually go to the games. Even though our team struggled we actually drew some nice crowds to Alumni for Saturday night games against teams like Holy Cross, UMass and Providence when I played. If the students are supporting the team and the alumni are supporting the team how long until the administration comes around?

JBQ said...

It's all about Title IX and its ridiculous hold on society. Political correctness is the "biggest duck in the room". A small group of radical feminists demand scholarships while thousands of men have to compete for them. Women's Lacrosse is a contradiction in terms. Just imagine women playing for the Jimmy Brown Syracuse team of long ago. The NCAA is actually contributing to the moral breakdown in society by encouraging radical feminism. Cheerleading could have been considered a sport. Is it any wonder that the NCAA would look the other way on major violations and then "backhand" St. Mary's for giving Aussies a place to stay on recruiting trips?

mod34b said...

JBQ, may I be the first to say you are a jackass!

you're welcome.

eagleboston said...

Didn't Michigan have some great lacrosse teams? Stiffler starred for his high school team in "American Pie."

FakeShalomTfree said...

And Stiffler would also go back and coach his HS lax team in "American Wedding"

CatabEagle said...

First, JBQ I can't disagree with you more on the title 9 issue and your interpretation of radical feminism.

Second, Mod34b, Ward Melville is a without question an affluent school. The med income in E.Setauket is over 100k, and the average home price is in the 750k range (with some homes over $10,000,000) not to mention it is the home of the most successful hedge fund of the last 30 years. The students that come from there could certainly be considered "preppy."

Second, I don't see why LAX should hold any great university support than other two major men's club sports Men's Crew and Men's Rugby. Crew and Rugby are Olympic sports with growing popularity throughout the country, and would offer the same cache as Lax (games generally played by upper income/prep school types). I just don't see the need for our school to spend any more money on Lax at the expense of our other athletic programs. If I could choose one, I'd say crew would be our best cost/benefit. We already have the boat house, the students don't need scholarships (on average), and it raises our international appeal if we are successful at Henley, etc..

Wave one sports said...

I really enjoy reading your blog and waiting for your next update. I appreciate all the work you put into this site, helping out others with your services.

custom team uniforms