Sunday, April 15, 2012

The provocative question: Will Lacrosse ever go mainstream?

The current issue of The Atlantic has an article entitled, "Will Lacrosse Ever Go Mainstream" You can read it here. It has a nice historical quality and a pretty good analytic component. The Atlantic, a wonderful magazine, is late to the party, in my opinion. Men's DI teams are growing (finally) and NCAA DI Athletic Directors are adding teams at a heady pace. You can be sure that these additions are not because of the desire to provide opportunities for boys seeking an outlet for aggression in college. Let me be very clear about this: Athletic Directors want more revenue and University Administrators want more donations to their schools. Lacrosse is merely the latest vehicle by which those needs can be met.

Have you ever asked yourself why NCAA DI Schools keep their Football programs when the vast majority of schools lose money at Football?  Well, ask yourself! There are two compelling answers. 1) A winning Football team provides an opportunity for University officials to receive alumni donations to the school after a big Football win. Thus, Administrators have a Fall sport that gives them money. A pretty large number of Basketball programs produce significant alumni donations as well. Spring sports? Not a chance! College Administrators know better than anyone that College Baseball produces little, if any, alumni cash. 2) Conference Media Packages. Television Media contracts between TV Networks and major Athletic conferences are soaring. One need look no farther than B1G (the former Big Ten) or the ACC and see how much money is being generated by schools packaging up the sports broadcasting rights for their conference. Think the recent flurry of conference realignments is to keep a school's athletic travel expenses down? Think again! College Presidents LOVE them some Media money. As to the broadcasters, they want more product. They've already got Fall product, and they've got Winter product, and they want SPRING PRODUCT! Prithee, tell me what Spring Product they want. You're right! The Broadcasters want more Lacrosse. It's my bet that college Presidents will find a way to give the Broadcasters what they want – and I've got history and human greed on my side! Update: See my post on the Ivy League Lacrosse contract here.

Lacrosse? It has helmets and hitting like Football. It has sticks like Hockey. It has coordination like Basketball. It has seduced the Administrations of colleges across the country. Yuck. There is no love of the game. There is no understanding of the historic traditions of the Iroquois. It's all about money and it's happening. Que sera, sera. It could be worse. They could have chosen Track and Field as the new anointed sport. That's the one I got my college athletic scholarship in. I liked it, but it has all the drama of a sewing bee!

Men's DI Lacrosse college coaches are getting amazing salary increases. That's because college administrators want results. They want results because they smell money. If you think that college Presidents are primarily interested in student achievement, or academic prowess, or Nobel Prizes - well, think again. They are interested in growing their enterprise, though they have, in my opinion, the strategic sense of Slugs. Still, the collective mind of the academic hive has settled on Lacrosse as their new and future revenue source. It's happening and it's gonna keep on happening.

What does this mean for lacrosse players? Life will be good! A much greater percentage of Lacrosse players will be offered scholarships than Football or Basketball players. That's a good thing, eh? Just don't think it will lead to a high-paying professional career. Administrators don't give a Rat's rear end about Lacrosse players. They're making a bet that alumni will donate based on Lax results. If you've got the skills, grab that offer! Just remember to use them the way they're using you.  

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