Extend the College Lacrosse season...Please:

Before college players begin to weigh the value of their scholarships, let’s be clear, the aim here is not to run players into the ground. We know from personal experience, at the end of the season, many players are running on fumes.  However, we genuinely believe, if any sport should go till mid-June, it shouldn’t be baseball; it should be lacrosse. 

Anyone who has attended one of the first four or five games of the college season knows this. And if they don’t, they do subconsciously. This in not an opinion; it’s a question of human nature. The schedule presently is not in rhythm with human biorhythms.

Not to get too scientific but biorhythms are kind of important; they are naturally recurring signals telling a person how to behave at a time of day, night or year, as in Hey, it's dark—go to sleep. Hey, it's light—get up.  These biorhythms affect sports: Hey, it's freezing outside—let's go inside; hey, it's warm out—let's go outside. Sports operate by them.

For example, Football begins at the end of summer, when people generally welcome a chill in the air and ends in the frigid cold when everyone wants to go inside. Basketball and hockey work this way too. They arrive when people want to be inside and finish when people want to go outside.  It's a natural pattern.

A sport is played when the best weather conditions exist for the game.  This is true for every sport—every sport, that is, but lacrosse.  No, Lacrosse is an outlier in this regard and not in a positive way. Lacrosse begins in February when nobody wants to be outside and ends a few weeks after everyone is comfortable outdoors. Worse yet, lacrosse is rarely played in what would be considered optimal conditions for the sport.

Proof of this are shorts in the uniforms. Conventional wisdom would say if people wear shorts when they play the sport, then the games should be played when people wear shorts…but it isn't.  We know this because according to www.caniwearshorts.info shorts cannot be worn until it is 70 degrees.  Can I wear shorts is hard to take seriously; however, you must choose a temperature and most would agree 70 degrees works.

The problem is, in the Mid-Atlantic, where most of the traditional lacrosse "hotbeds" are, and every National Championship has been played, the average high does not exceed 70 degrees until May!  Fact is the only time lacrosse is played in optimal conditions is during the playoffs, or better put the time in the season when there are the least number of games.

Many readers will consider this analysis soft and therefore shouldn't be taken seriously. But first think of this: basketball and hockey are always played in optimal conditions, and football and baseball are for most of their seasons (baseball explained below).  To illustrate the magnitude of this, we needed a location to use as a measuring stick for evaluating the weather of a lacrosse season.

We chose Baltimore because 19 of this year's final TOP 20 teams were in Maryland or north of it.  Next, we had to guesstimate what most people would consider the ideal temperature for a lacrosse game. We decided 60 degrees and up was reasonable, especially considering the shorts issue. 

If you agree with this, and live in Baltimore or anywhere north of it, then according to the average daily highs your lacrosse season has a whopping 3 to 6 weeks of ideal weather.  Yes, 3 to 6 weeks of glorious weather to enjoy the sport, watch it and play it, in the weather everyone envisions when they think of a lacrosse game. Do you see where this is going?

Compare this to football using the same metrics: let's say 50 degrees is the ideal temperature for a football game. This is reasonable.  If you agree with this and live in Ann Arbor Michigan, then you get 9 to 12 weeks of ideal football weather; in SEC country fans get the whole season.  Good for football, but obviously basketball has it beat: college basketball guarantees 19 weeks every year. To make matters worse—well—let's not.

Let’s focus on the positive, but still recognize the scholastic lacrosse season does not align with the weather, thus extending the season is reasonable.  So why doesn’t anyone mention this? They do.  It’s a regular topic of conversation among college coaches.  Most of them are of the same mind, the season should be extended, and it would have been by now were it not for the sticking point: The Memorial Day weekend tradition.

Much like College football’s affinity for the New Year’s Day tradition, College lacrosse is stuck on Memorial Day weekend.  Sadly, this tradition has blinded people from recognizing how everyone, student-athletes, coaches, fans, television and the sport itself, would benefit from extending the season. In fact, the number and scope of the benefits is beyond measure, so let’s just start with the college players.

  • less class missed due to mid-week travel
  • less games per week  
  • More flexible schedule for coaches, allowing players more days off
  • Avoid having to take finals during the play-offs
  • Not having to wear shorts in freezing temperatures
  • Opportunity to attend your own graduation
  • Opportunity to push the start of the season back

The over-arching theme is better pacing for the school year, as far as games and practices. But the one reason that  should stick out most of all, is the last, pushing the start of the season back.

Yes, the NCAA rules and the competitive nature of coaches may make this darn near impossible but if somehow everyone could collectively come to a “gentleman’s agreement” and push competition back everyone would benefit to the nth degree. For lacrosse, at the beginning of the season, less games mean more of a following.  

Bottom line, if the beginning of the season is pushed back two weeks and two weeks are added on to it like College baseball, then College Lacrosse could finally begin to solve the riddle that puzzles everyone involved in the sport.

Part II: Solving the College Lacrosse Riddle ~ Why is Attendance so  Poor at College lacrosse games?

Again, coming soon to a computer near you! Follow us on Twitter, or be a friend on Facebook, so we can let you know the moment Part II comes off the presses:).

Baseball Explanation:  college baseball teams begin their seasons playing tournaments in warm weather locales and their season is two and half weeks longer.  

Here, though, is the biggest reason why baseball is played in ideal weather: College lacrosse is "The Show" for lacrosse, where as with baseball it is the MLB, and their games are in ideal weather all the time, if not, they don't play them. 

Damien Begley

Writer, Player, Stringer, Fan, proud Head Coach of the DC Champion Wilson Tigers, self-described lacrosse enthusiast who ultimately can be held responsible for anything you read, see or hear on this site. To reach emmett@laxlore.com

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