My take on the early start of the season/NCAA lacrosse
I write this blog on Tuesday afternoon from my Baltimore office. We had the most significant snowfall of the season, around 6”inches on the ground has cancelled school for my 5th and 2nd grader. The powdery snowfall gave them a great opportunity to catch up on some good sledding. As I look out my window and then over the calendar it sure feels as if we are still in throws of old man winter. Yet I flip through my twitter feed and am noticing that some NCAA teams are heading into their FOURTH game of the season this coming weekend. That is truly crazy! Almost every Division I team plays 13 or 14 games all hoping to wrap up on Memorial Day weekend. Yeah that Memorial Day, the one that comes up every year in almost in June yet teams are getting ready to play game four? How does the math work out on that? Nine or 10 games left to play, plus maybe a weekend conference tourney and we are only in Feb? Several teams will have close to half their schedule done in the brutal cold by March 10 or so.
I have seen more outcries on this through social media in the past two days than ever before. Seen some really influential lacrosse personalities like Quint Kessenich, Paul Carcaterra, and a great article in the Baltimore Sun from Mike Preston. A writer who has been around covering sports for a very long time.
I’ve got to say I don’t like it, either. NCAA lacrosse is the pinnacle of the greatest sport in the world. Yeah, we have an MLL but I tell these young athletes every spring, “enjoy it nothing will ever be the same regardless of what level you achieve after college, nothing”. NCAA lacrosse is a celebration of the sport and it shouldn’t happen in the ice cold, in snow storms, in football teams indoor facilities, and with massive piles of snow stealing the balls. Sure, if we went back to the schedules we had ten years ago we would still play two to three games in the less than ideal weather but not seven or eight. I sat through a wonderful game last Tuesday night between Hopkins and Towson, I dressed for skiing and was literally shivering the whole fourth quarter somewhat uncontrollably. That game on a warmer spring evening would have probably drawn well better and been considerably more enjoyable for all. To me though there is something the NCAA coaches very likely never think about is that the whole sport below them follows suit. They are the leaders, they are the pinnacle. All these clubs and youth leagues see the NCAA teams start and it seems they feel they need to start early as well or they feel they are doing something wrong. My sons are 11 and 8 and their first practices are THIS weekend. Was that happening ten years ago? No way!
Clearly there are conference scheduling and conference tournament issues that did not exist ten years ago. The one thing I don’t know is if the NCAA regulates that start of the season as they do in NCAA basketball.” Midnight madness” on college campuses kicks off the first day (night) teams can practice and it’s a great celebration. Why does it seem some D1 lax teams start Jan 8 and some Feb 1? Couldn’t the NCAA at least regulate the start of practice which should “control” when teams play their first games? Beyond that I don’t hold any coaches responsible, especially if its not regulated. Ten years ago, I cannot remember a single D1 coach losing his job, now what has there been 8-10 in that time? Salaries have exploded, tv coverage has exploded, camps/tournamants/teams have exploded so why not get out after the new year and get it going? Why not take a full week to get ready for big games rather than play mid week? I mean it’s all understandable. I just think whether the teams playing another two mid week games, push back the final four, whatever the solution I sure hope the guys can collectively find a solution for the good of the fans and the kids out there competing