As lacrosse continues its meteoric rise in popularity, more and more people are discovering the sport, becoming fans, and attending games. As a result of this popularity, the OHSLA has seen an incredible rise in the number of boy’s high school teams, with an increase of over 50 Varsity and Junior Varsity teams over the past seven years. With this increase in teams comes an increase of spectators, both parents and schoolmates.
The OHSLA is happy to see this increase in fan support. Nothing is more exciting than watching a good OHSLA game when the grandstands are full of enthusiastic spectators. Since lacrosse is a relatively new sport for many of these spectators, however, some do not have a complete understanding of the rules, nor do they know the proper spectator etiquette for watching lacrosse.
Because of lacrosse’s fast pace and physical play, many people liken it to watching ice hockey, and their sideline behavior reflects this. Excited fans often yell, “Hit him” as the opposing midfielder runs up field with the ball, or they scream at the referees if they do not agree with a penalty call, much as they would at a football game, or any other sport that has overt physicality. In actuality, lacrosse is a finesse game that allows physical contact. It is considered by many to be a gentleman’s game, and the behavior both on the field and on the sidelines should reflect this.
The coaches, players, parents, and officials of the OHSLA form a great little community, and we should treat everyone in this community with respect. Sportsmanship is key. All too often, we hear fans engaged in a form of support that we do not condone, such as harassing officials, or taunting players. In fact, such behavior can cost your team a game, in the form of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
When it comes to sports, I’ll put my knowledge and passion up against anyone.
Well, almost anyone.
I worked at ESPN for seven years and there are literally hundreds of people working there who have forgotten more about sports than I will ever know.
But I’ll still say I’m ahead of the curve.
Except when it comes to lacrosse.
That’s one game I know VERY little about.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from a fraternity brother who said he was coming to town for a national college lacrosse tournament.
And he was bringing his 19-year old son.
Who was playing in the event.
Wow do I feel old.
My fraternity brother has a son old enough to be in a fraternity.
What’s next, my daughter is going to high school.
Oh wait, that’s next year. Ouch.
So I headed up to the event, where the top schools from all over the country were here to determine the national champs.
If you’ve never seen the game of lacrosse, it’s kind of like if soccer, hockey, rugby, football and basketball had a baby.
We watched the game from the sideline, where we were literally feet away from all of the speed, hard hits and amazing athletic ability that has helped this sport grow in popularity.
But I must’ve asked more questions than a game of trivial pursuit.
How many periods do they play? How long are they? Why are those guys not crossing that line? Ouch, doesn’t that hurt?
I’m sure I asked at least 50 more questions just like those, but I guess that means I was enjoying myself.
Which I definitely was.
But the thing that blew me away was the tone of the game.
Physically, it looked like they were trying to kill each other.
But verbally, it was like supper at Buckingham Palace.
The players called the referee, “Sir”.
A missed shot was, “Unlucky”.
And when something went really right, you heard, “Well done.”
There were no temper tantrums. Everybody gave 100%, 100% of the time and there was not a curse word to be found.
It was kind of disturbing, but very refreshing.
At one point things really got out of hand when a player called an official, “dude”.
The dude immediately responded with “that’s all I want to hear from you.”
Only two or three of the 32 schools there offered scholarships to their players.
Everyone else was on their own.
I heard one of the parents say that the trip cost their team more than $15,000.
Alex Rodriguez gets more than that EVERY inning, whether he plays or not.
Unfortunately my friend’s son’s team got blown out, but you wouldn’t know it by the reaction of their fans.
They scored a late goal to make the game a little less lopsided, at which point you heard a loud roar of "WELL DONE” from the bleachers.
It’s almost as if they were playing for the love of the game.
What a concept.
In an effort to keep OHSLA games enjoyable for all, we offer the following guidelines for spectator conduct:
HONOR THE GAME! Thanks for your cooperation!