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Tewaaraton Watch List Released

The initial "Watch List" highlights 50 players, and that may be too many at this point in the season.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Tewaaraton Foundation released its initial "Watch List" for the 2014 Tewaaraton Award. Unlike in previous seasons, the Tewaaraton Foundation limited its initial run of players vying for the award to 50 players, showing a degree of restraint that the nominating committee has missed in prior years. Here are the 50 initial candidates that the Tewaaraton Foundation highlighted:

Men’s Watch List

Niko Amato, Maryland - Sr., G
Wesley Berg, Denver - Jr., A
Connor Buczek, Cornell - Jr., M
Brian Cannon, Dickinson - Sr., A
Mike Chanenchuk, Maryland - Sr., M
Mark Cockerton, Virginia - Sr., A
Thomas DeNapoli, Towson - Sr., A
David Dickson, Bucknell - Jr., A
Dylan Donahue, Syracuse - Soph., A
Matt Donovan, Cornell - Jr., A
Michael Ehrhardt, Maryland - Sr., D
Rob Emery, Virginia - Sr., M
Brian Feeney, Penn - Sr., G
Joe Fletcher, Loyola - Sr., D
Brendan Fowler, Duke - Sr., F/O
John Glesener, Army - Jr., A
Matt Harris, Syracuse - Sr., LSM
Austin Kaut, Penn State - Sr., G
Matt Kavanagh, Notre Dame - Soph., A
Jesse King, Ohio State - Jr., M
Chris LaPierre, Virginia - Sr., M
Dylan Levings, Yale - Sr., F/O
Nate Lewnes, UMBC - Soph., A
Sam Llinares, Hofstra - Soph., A
John LoCascio, Villanova - Sr., LSM/D
Zack Losco, Penn - Sr., M
Alex Love, Hobart - Sr., A
Mike MacDonald, Princeton - Jr., A
Brandon Mangan, Yale - Sr., A
Kevin Massa, Bryant - Jr., F/O
Kieran McArdle, St. John's - Sr., A
Ben McIntosh, Drexel - Sr., M
Scott McWilliams, Virginia - Sr., D
Jeremy Noble, Denver - Sr., M
Stephen O'Hara, Notre Dame - Sr., D
Matt Poillon, Lehigh - Jr., G
Kevin Rice, Syracuse - Jr., A
Joey Sankey, North Carolina - Jr., A
Bobby Schmitt, Bellarmine - Jr., LSM/D
Tom Schreiber, Princeton - Sr., M
Joe Slavik, Cortland - Sr., M
Ty Souders, Lehigh - Sr., D
Randy Staats, Syracuse - Jr., A/M
Wells Stanwick, Hopkins - Jr., A
Shane Sturgis, Penn State - Sr., A
Lyle Thompson, Albany - Jr., A
Miles Thompson, Albany - Sr., A
Ty Thompson, Albany - Sr., A
Chad Tutton, North Carolina - Jr., M
Andrew Wagner, Mercyhurst - Sr., D
Justin Ward, Loyola - Sr., A
Jordan Wolf, Duke - Sr., A

Notable omissions and questionable inclusions mean less to me than this fact: Why is the Tewaaraton Foundation taking the drastic step of highlighting 50 -- !!! -- players in its initial watch list? The entire purpose of the Tewaaraton Award -- according to the Tewaaraton Foundation's press release -- is to recognize and honor "the top male . . . lacrosse player in the United States." The Tewaaraton Award doesn't recognize the very good; the Tewaaraton Award recognizes the best. Are there truly 50 players -- at this point in the season where most teams have only played a game or two -- that have established themselves -- this season and in prior years -- as having the potential to be the best in the game in 2014? An affirmative answer to that question is highly tenuous. The USILA's postseason All-America list does an incredible job at highlighting both the exceptional and the very good; I'm not sure that the Tewaaraton Foundation needs to -- in its monthly "Watch List" updates -- highlight the very good. If the award is built around honoring the best, it likely needs to conform its "Watch List" procedures to its guidelines for selecting finalists and the eventual winner:

Guidelines for Finalists and Recipient Selections
  • Finalists will be the best five players chosen without regard to institution
  • Finalists will be selected based on individual performance and a player’s contribution to the success of their team.
  • Finalists are chosen based on current year’s regular season performance (date of selection is at the conclusion of regular season and before playoffs).
  • Recipients are chosen based on current year’s regular season and playoff performance.
  • Sportsmanship can play a role in the selection process and it is important that the recipient upholds the mission and values of the Tewaaraton Award.

The very nature of the Tewaaraton Award is elitist: It promotes and recognizes only the extraordinary. It's okay to embrace that fact; there are other mechanisms in the college lacrosse universe that appropriately recognize the very good through the game's three levels of play. Much of the Tewaaraton Foundation's arguably unnecessary depth in its "Watch Lists" is due to the fact that its "Watch Lists" are released too early in the season. The resolution to this dissonance is to push the release date of the Tewaaraton Foundation's "Watch Lists" deeper into the season -- have the first release around mid-March and limited to 15-20 players; push out an update in mid- to late-April with a similar number of candidates, adding or cutting nominees as necessary -- and create a field of potential honorees that comports with reality.