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Rabil Research

03/18/2009, 4:24pm PDT
By Paul Rabil
Hey there Stealth Fans (and the rest of you lacrosse guru’s out there who may come across this),

Tough times right now for us Stealth players and fans. Not only is the economy around us hurting, but our play on the field right now and our record as a result is hurting…Time to sulk? I think not. Fortunately, one thing that I have been exposed to throughout my lacrosse life, with the exception of one spectacular year in 2005, has been being on a team that has won and lost, but eventually won. People often forget that although we see a lot Johns Hopkins on Memorial Day Weekend, it is never the easiest road to the show. I was fortunate enough to be on a team that made back-to-back championship appearances in 2007 and 2008, however in 2007 we started out 4-4, and in 2008 we started out 3-5 (keep in mind that these records are based on 13 game regular seasons, with little make-up time)…Anyways, maybe this first paragraph is more for therapy and encouragement, but if there is one thing that this team doesn’t lack, it’s definitely the talent and the desire to win. So keep your NLL tickers going as no matter what happens, we will continue to work hard and try to get back on track….

…(30 minutes later)…

The last paragraph got me thinking about the season, but really not driving me to put much more on paper. What is this a writer’s block?...I don’t even know if it’s possible to have a writers block, A., because I’m not a writer, and B., because I’m not sure what that even means?...So I dealt with it. And by doing that, I mean I hopped on good-ole Google and researched some box/field lacrosse (for all of you lacrosse enthusiasts, who are more or less, the only ones reading these blogs)…Here’s what I came up with, a little Rabil Research, call it.

Believe it or not, I think I actually got some decent research done, at least something to chew on…I learned a bit. I’m going to look at the sport of lacrosse from a birds-eye view and try to draw some comparison and critique between Lacrosse as it has been broken into two genres, field and box.

Lacrosse:

Okay, I’m going to try and be as non-biased as possible here, even though we all know that I grew up playing field lacrosse. BUT, when we first Google any lacrosse item, the first explanation always comes in the field version. Let’s face it, the Eastern and Northern Native American tribes that were the first to play, played on a field…it was actually pretty hectic, the game could be played on a field many miles in length and width and sometimes game would last for days at a time. As much as I try to dig further into this, I can’t figure out for certain how many goals were set up, if any, or if the original game was more a keep away/king of the mountain style. Either way, being the oldest team sport in America, there is tremendous tradition behind the first field game of lacrosse as it was said to be played “for the Creator”, thus lacrosse being forever known as “The Creator’s Game”.

Box Lacrosse:

Obviously I’m going to skip the instructions/basics of the game as we should all be so knowledgeable...The facts that stuck out at me the most:
1.    Canadian born game. In the 1930’s, Hockey owners came together to brainstorm how to make some money in the offseason while using their Indoor venues. This strategy formulated the box game, and basically supplanted field lacrosse in Canada for the time being (Note: I got a chance to see Brodie’s Hill Academy come down to Baltimore and beat both Gilman and McDonough in two scrimmages this past weekend. If there’s a Canadian field player to learn from, he’s your guy).
2.    BUT! Interestingly enough, out of this creation came the FIRST lacrosse professional league in 1931, called the International Lacrosse League (Lasting 2 seasons).
3.    Since then we have seen the growth of the CLA, the WLA and NLL really grow and nourish the sports greatness. I’ve been fortunate enough to play in some great venues, with hopefully many more to come.

Field Lacrosse:
Some notes:
1.    We all know the growth and success of the field game relies on the NCAA. Because of this, let’s dive into it…The first collegiate program was established back in 1877, be it New York University.
2.    The NCAA did not adopt a tournament for lacrosse until 1971, where teams have been undisputedly dubbed “NCAA Champions”…since then, Johns Hopkins and Syracuse have accounted for 19 of the 38 titles…yikes.
3.    Professional field lacrosse: The MLL, beginning in June of 2001 and fighting strong today (I’m a huge fan of Pro Sports, so this is all good).

Conclusion:
So, do the field and box game split the cake here in terms of tradition? Rationale behind this would be the first professional league being in the box game, dated 1931…and the first collegiate field lacrosse team, dated 1877. The answer…no.
I don’t do ties, so the tie breaker must resort to international competition. And no, I’m not going to “cop out” and say which version of international competition came first…I’m taking this puppy to the big stage.

Lacrosse at the 1904 Summer Olympics:
Yes, OLYMPICS. The field game takes the cake here. It was celebrated as a medal contest in the 1904 and 1908 Summer Olympics. But don’t get testy, if we want to make this a battle between the United States and Canada, then we will draw even again because the WINNER of the 1904 Olympics was the Canadian-based Shamrock Lacrosse Team outlasting the St. Louis Amateur Athletic Association in the US.

See? Everyone wins. And for those that stuck around to see me discuss apples and oranges, cheers.

Paul

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