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 sometimes 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.
In an effort to keep OHSLA games enjoyable for all, we offer the following guidelines for spectator conduct:
- Do not use profanity. Lacrosse is a family sport and nobody wants to hear expletives when more acceptable words will do. Encourage your team in a positive manner.
- Be politically correct. There is no need to call into question someone's race, religion, sexual orientation, and/or parentage, or comment on someone’s appearance. We want people to appreciate our game, not resent attending because of a few inconsiderate and very vocal fans.
- Remember the children. No matter what you want to believe about role models, the children are watching and listening. They hear what you say and see what you do. Be aware of their presence when you sit in the stands and be a good example. Many of these youngsters are our next generation of OHSLA players. Let’s make sure that they learn proper lacrosse sportsmanship.
- Do not yell at the officials. Referees are trained observers of the game and most likely know the rules better than you do. In most cases they have a better view of the play than you do. Officials are human, however, and they will make mistakes. If you see a blown call by an official, let it go. Nobody yells at the coaches for a missed substitution. You shouldn’t yell at a ref for a missed call either. It won’t change the call, and it will most likely lead to further crowd abuse of the officials."No one has ever played a perfect game, coached a perfect game, or refereed a perfect game, yet all honor the game by competing for the love of lacrosse. They respect and honor each other by the bond formed by the game. We hope that all spectators and fans will respect and honor the game by displaying respect and sportsmanship toward all players, coaches and referees. For the Creators game!"
- Jim Carboneau, President, Men’s Division Officials Council
HONOR THE GAME! Thanks for your cooperation!