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2017 by Sillio for Authentic Athletix

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Professional Lacrosse at a CrossRoads

November 22, 2018

 

 

Lacrosse was a gift to us from the Creator, to be played for his enjoyment and as a medicine game for healing the people. The Haudenosaunee people know that all creatures, no matter how big or small, are significant and have a contribution to make to the overall cycle of life. …. Our grandfathers tell us that when lacrosse originated it was played for healing and the enjoyment of our creator. Regardless of how unworthy you may feel an individual is, that person may have the qualities that could be a great help to you some day. …. Before each game, players are reminded of the reason for their participation. Lacrosse is played for the enjoyment of OUR CREATOR. Lacrosse should not be played for money, fame, or personal gain; you should be humble and of a good mind when you take your lacrosse stick in hand…. We acknowledge the creator and give thanks to the four protectors and all life sustainers. Now, the creator has endowed upon all human life, a game called dehonchigwiis (lacrosse) for all to enjoy. The young men who participate in the creator’s game will generate a gift of healing that we may have peace of mind.

 

By Chief Paul Waterman, genhen

 

As the holidays approach, lacrosse finds itself at an unprecedented crossroads. The game’s greatest athletes are squaring off with powerful businessmen for financial control of the professional game, both indoors and out. As lacrosse enthusiasts watch from the sidelines, we must wonder if they are disgracing the game by not honoring the Creator. These crossroads threaten the growth of our game.

 

It’s great that after so many years, young men and women alike can make a comfortable living in the lacrosse industry. This was a pipedream to us dinosaurs, but even still, we recognize the need to proceed with caution. With the sort of money that has become only common place in lacrosse, we must guard against the sort of greed that could breed destruction.

 

Lacrosse has matured into a national and international sport. The most recent world championships saw teams representing 48 nations, Greece, Jamaica, Uganda, Belgium, South Korea among them. Here, youth lacrosse is now the fastest growing sport in the nation for both boys and girls.

 

Yet, all that has been gained could be lost if the difficulties confronting both outdoor and indoor professional lacrosse are not quickly resolved.

 

But, the bottom line is that the sport of lacrosse is not big enough to support two outdoor professional leagues. What happens if the PLL puts the MLL out of business and then itself doesn’t succeed? What happens to the game then?

 

If P.T. Barnum and Jim Brown ever somehow conceived a child, it would be Paul Rabil. He has the entrepreneurial ingenuity of the great American circus master and the athletic prowess of the dominant running back. He is the best lacrosse player in the world, but what he has done for the game with his stick and his cleats is only paralleled by what he’s done with his Instagram and YouTube accounts. He selflessly donates his time to growing and teaching the sport and has even had a whole line of lacrosse products named after him, “The Rabil.”

 

Major League Lacrosse (MLL) was founded in the 1990s as the entrepreneurial brainchild of Dave Marrow and Cortland State’s own Jake Steinfeld. It is the premier outdoor lacrosse professional league, but still has struggled to establish a genuine footprint on the landscape of professional sports. Somewhat tragically, a lot of these difficulties are the product of poor decisions and leadership by past leaders.

 

Nevertheless, the league’s new commissioner, Sandy Brown, has brought energy, ideas, foresight and player friendly changes. If given time, these changes will lead the league to prosper.

 

The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), a new professional sport traveling enterprise created and developed by Paul Rabil, provides a challenge to the MLL’s rebirth. To be sure, the PLL incorporates many great concepts and may continue the spread of the sport nationwide. And, given Mr. Rabil’s tremendous track record for success, it would be foolish to bet against him in any arena.

 

But, the bottom line is that the sport of lacrosse is not big enough to support two outdoor professional leagues. What happens if the PLL puts the MLL out of business and then itself doesn’t succeed? What happens to the game then?

 

Mr. Brown and Mr. Rabil need to work together for the good of lacrosse, and to honor the Creator. To combine Rabil’s ingenuity and passion with Brown and the MLL’s foundation and track record would be to create a joint venture that would benefit the entire lacrosse community.

 

The old expression of my grandfather couldn’t be more applicable, “Half of the doughnut hole is better than the hole of the donut.” We can only hope that they both put the game of lacrosse ahead of the dollar and self-promotion, because together what they can accomplish could only further the sport’s growth and development.

Indoor Professional Lacrosse

 

If the owners and players can’t agree on a new collective bargaining agreement (and fast) then the upcoming season and the league’s very existence will be in jeopardy.

 

Professional indoor lacrosse is also at a critical juncture. If the owners and players can’t agree on a new collective bargaining agreement (and fast) then the upcoming season and the league’s very existence will be in jeopardy. The players want transparency, a larger percentage of the revenue, and better working conditions. The owners want to keep their revenue to recoup many years of losses. The bottom line is the NLL is facing the same issues that have historically divided management and players in all major professional sports since the beginning of the 20th century.

The positive is that the NLL is finally starting to gain traction in North America. It now has a solid fan base and has added new franchises and signed new TV deals. It is finally generating revenue and is growing in popularity.

 

But here again, now that money is being made, the owners and the players are struggling to find common ground. Sure, management deserves a larger percentage for taking a second tier sport and guiding it to prosperity; owners deserve credit for that. But, the players who, sometimes twice a weekend, put their bodies on the line in a fast, violent and skilled game also deserve credit. They deserve to be partners in the business and enjoy the fruits of their labors and the players who have come before them. It is now incumbent upon these parties to figure out how to strike a fair deal so that we can continue to enjoy the growth of the game and honor the Creator.

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