When you think about it, it’s pretty crazy how hyped people are for the PLL when we still know so little about it. We know the players committed to playing, we know it’ll be on the NBC suite of networks, and we know the headquarters is in Los Angeles. And of course the touring model. There’s still so much to be revealed. Just thinking about it got me thinking about my wish list for a pro lacrosse league.
Keep it simple - Okay, if you want to adapt, MINIMAL adaptation of college rules for a pro game. Personally I still see it as a major problem that lacrosse is played by different rules at the high school, college, and pro level. And it’s not like basketball, where the three point line and shot clock just move a bit. Shot clock vs no clock, clearing rules, two point lines, etc etc. It’s too varied. More than that, the rules that the MLL had its inception all just felt like gimmicks. A 45 second shot clock, a three long stick limit, and a two point line were things that no one was asking for. They even eliminated the restraining box because….they eliminated the restraining box. The two point line has survived this long, although obviously the long stick cap was removed and shot clock became 60 seconds. But let’s not reinvent the wheel here. The on field product in pro lacrosse is so good because the GUYS PLAYING IT ARE REALLY GOOD PLAYERS. They don’t need special rules in place to make sure goals get scored. They can handle that on their own. A team not hitting 25 goals doesn’t mean the game was slow and needs to be sped up. So PLL, keep it simple. Let’s use that 80 second shot clock that starts on possession. Don’t get wacky with two point lines and removed restraining boxes. Let the players create the excitement, not the rules. This is a chance to establish a bit of uniformity between levels in lacrosse, so lets do it.
Players in the broadcast booth - Alright, this one’s a little outside the box. The PLL is using the touring model, meaning all six teams worth of players will be in the same place for a weekend. How about while Team A and Team B play a game, a player from one of the four other teams is on the as part of the game broadcast team with the NBC crew? Team Rabil is playing Team Schreiber, and Kyle Hartzell from Team Harrison is part of the broadcast. I’d love to hear some of these guys offer their analysis of the games and frankly, most broadcasts to this point feature guys behind a microphone who’s knowledge of the sport and players comes across as extremely limited (the mispronounced names in a broadcast of a recent Yale/Team USA scrimmage were shameful, and I’m talking about some easy ones like Baptiste, not even Buczek). Point is, these guys have personality and know the game as well or better than anyone, let them get in on broadcast a bit and share that with fans. I’d say let’s even have them as the color commentators for games, but baby steps.
Mic these guys up - Regardless of sport, fans love being invited in to being a part of the action. NFL players mic’d for sound, the look inside a huddle in an NBA game or the bench in an NHL game when guys are chirping at each other, it’s fun to be that close to the sports we love. Bring that to lacrosse. To this point, PLL has made it sound like there will be cameras all over the place, including on goalies. I’ll also advocate for putting mic’s on goalies. A seasoned fan will love to hear the call outs from a goalie to their defense, and it will provide a jumping off point for broadcast crews to explain what’s happening to new fans. Tell me you wouldn’t love to have Scotty Rodgers mic’d up for this sequence, ending when he did this to Jules Heningburg with one hand: (GIF)
.@ScottyRodg42 made 17 saves on 27 shots in earning the @CocaColaCo Player of the Game including this 1-handed robbery on Jules Heningburg in the @MachineMLL 13-11 win over the @Florida_Launch. Full game, postgame interviews, & highlights at https://t.co/oJkK8CQ2nw & the LSN app pic.twitter.com/1nZAbTcgO7— Lax Sports Network (@LaxSportsNet) July 8, 2018
Or Adam Ghitelman when he did this:
I can think of dozens of times I’ve wanted to hear more of what’s on the field. Like what Tucker Durkin sounds like when he’s doing this:
LSN - Justin Guterding and Tucker Durkin Battle
Ohio Machine rookie Justin Guterding and Florida Launch All-Star & Team USA defenseman Tucker Durkin have been having an absolute battle tonight. WATCH FREE at laxsn.com or download the LSN app here bit.ly/2JoEgJEPosted by Lax Sports Network on Saturday, July 7, 2018
The list goes on. Make these moments even more accessible.
Allow those sweet celebrations - Please PLL, don’t follow in the steps of baseball and football. MLB is out here with unwritten rules that change every other week about what you can and can’t do when you make an incredible play. If you take 10 seconds to get to first base on a home run it’s ok, but ELEVEN SECONDS? Now you get a four seamer in the ribs. Whatever the lacrosse equivalent of bat flipping is, don’t discourage it. The NFL finally relaxed a bit and we’re seeing more fun end zone celebrations this year, but we had a stretch there where if you danced too hard you got fined. Again, these players have personality, they’re playing a game they love, let them express themselves. Sure it was cool that Barry Sanders just hands the ball to the ref. You know what else would be cool? Barry Sanders doing cartwheels. If (when) Jordan Wolf beats his man from X and scores a diving goal, then goes full Joe Horn and pulls a flip phone from behind the net and pretends to call someone, you damn well let him. Keep that flag in the pocket.
Diversify - There are plenty of athletes out there who have an interest in this thing. When the league was announced, Brian Westbrook said he wanted a lacrosse stick. Le’Veon Bell said, albeit jokingly, that he should have played lacrosse (he now has a whole lot of free time). Steve Nash, Hilary Knight, and plenty of other famous athletes were all about this news when it dropped. So why stop there, with just getting some well wishes? You can sign me up right now for video of Brian Westbrook and Matt Rambo talking about the best cheesesteak in Philly and then doing some shooting. Let Kyle Harrison shoot hoops with Steve Nash (and get a real game of one on one). Jules Heningburg and Kylie Ohlmiller made a great video for Heningburg’s YouTube channel around Halloween, get the women’s lacrosse scene involved. There are enough athletes and celebrities out there with their own followings that are avenues to new fans. And Los Angeles is a great place to start.
Keep the old timers involved - In a recent podcast, Chris and I got to talk to Sandy Brown, the MLL commissioner. One thing Sandy said was that the MLL planned to make a stronger effort to keep retired players and former MLL players involved in the league. It took the MLL way too long to get to that point; the PLL shouldn’t make the same mistake. Embrace guys who were there are the beginning of pro lacrosse in any form and are still very active in the sport (sup Powell bros). When some guys are done playing I’m sure they’re ready to start a new phase in their lives with less lacrosse, but for most, I’d bet they want to stay involved with the game they love and were lucky enough to play professionally. Keep these guys involved.
Go Global - OK this is definitely WAY down the line. But something like 48 nations competed in the World Games. Lacrosse isn’t just growing in the United States, it’s growing around the world. And you know what’s cooler than a US Tour model? A GLOBAL TOUR. WORLD DOMINATION. Seriously I know this is probably something that will take a long time for the sport and the league to be ready for. But I’m just going to go ahead and pencil in “Global PLL Tour” to my calendar for summer 2020.
PENALTY CHAIRS. This idea was dope and I don’t care what anyone says.