As the sport of lacrosse looks to grow throughout the nation, one great way to do this is through television. Yesterday, ESPN announced their coverage for the 2011 NCAA season and there is one thing that ESPN has made clear.
For some reason, the "Worldwide leader in sports" has picked Johns Hopkins University to be the spokesperson for the 2011 season. The Blue Jays are on one of the three big networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) nine times, not counting the three other times they will be shown on ESPN3.com.
In my mind, if you want the sport to grow, the only way to do that is to show the best and most exciting games the sport has to offer from week to week. I think a cool idea would be for at least one game of the year, have the fans vote on what they want to watch. Which game would they choose if they had a pick.
Noone can argue that in week two of the ’11 season, a better game to watch will be Stony Brook versus University of Virginia, a rematch of last years NCAA quarterfinal in which UVA escaped with a 10-9 victory. Instead, we as fans of the sport and paying cable customers will be subjected to watch Hopkins take on Siena, a game that seems to be on every year now. That is no offense to Siena, a team that went 12-5 last year and has one heck of a player in Bryan Neufeld.
It also isnt a knock on Hopkins, although their 7-8 record last season doesn’t cut it for so much ESPN air time. I do know that Hopkins plays in one of the largest lacrosse hotbeds in the nation and their fanbase is a large group. I understand ratings and why ESPN chose so many of their games. Just like the Dallas Cowboys having so many Sunday Night and Monday Night Football games.
But the Manhattan Jaspers at Homewood taking on the Blue Jays on Wednesday March 9? Come on.
I do understand there are contractual agreements and issues between certain networks in the markets of some of the schools that don’t have as much ESPN air time. For example, Sunday March 6th’s matchup between Virginia and Syracuse, which in my mind will once again be the game of the year, is not shown on any of the ESPN networks. While I am not 100 percent positive why it is not shown, I do know that sometimes Time Warner Cable has rights to certain games. Again, in this situation, I am not positive if that is the case. In terms of last years game, it was shown ESPN3.com and aired on ESPN U on a tape delay.In a time where lacrosse is growing faster then ever and the expansion of the sport both at the porfessional and collegiate level are moving westward, one would think think the lacrosse fans of America would get a chance to see Denver or Ohio State play a game or two on television. What lacrosse fan wouldn’t want to see Denver play? They went 12-5 last year, finished ranked ninth in the country and return one of the better attack duo’s in the nation in Alex Demopoulos and Mark Matthews, who combined for 75 goals and 110 points last year. Not to mention the man leading the team is one of the biggest names in the sport; Bill Tierney.
For this argument I will settle my case on Sunday February 27. Please, from one lacrosse fan to another, can we get Stony Brook versus Denver matchup on there?
And how about last years almost Cinderella story, Army? They knocked off the top ranked Orange in double overtime before losing in the quarterfinals to Cornell. The Black Knights also return two of the best players in the country in attackman Jeremy Boltus and goalie Tom Palesky.
And no Penn State? A program that has been on the brink of being nationally acknowledged and now has a coach in Jeff Tamrboni to take them there. I know I would like to see a game of theirs at some point during the season.
But that is all just wishful thinking.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of games that will myself and many lacrosse fans happy. Saturday March 12 is sure to be a lacrosse fans dream. The Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic in Baltimore gives every fan the chance to roll out of bed at 11, catch a Big East showdown between Syracuse and Georgetown, grab some lunch then catch two of the best attackmen in the country (Rob Pannell and Steele Stanwick) go head to head. And, if you are lucky enough to have ESPN3.com you can also catch Maryland at Towson in between both those games and then Hopkins/UMBC to finish out the lacrosse fantasy of a day.
When all is said and done, it will be an exciting season and ESPN does offer the newcomer lacrosse fan a chance to see some great players, teams and coaches.