I have been to a LOT of lacrosse games this year. Between coaching a youth team, attending local high school games and occasionally covering them, covering college games, and now attending MLL games here and there, I’m going to say I’ve been to somewhere between 30 and 40 games this season and watched countless more on TV. I’m not trying to brag, this is just how I am lucky(?) enough to live right now.
Anyway, I recently watched a highly contested high school game between two teams ranked top five nationally that I realized fans love to make certain calls. Fans yelling at refs is nothing new or noteworthy, but in lacrosse, it’s the same things getting yelled regardless of level, location, size of the crowd, anything. And more often than not, fans actually keep track of these during the game, heckling refs about the four offsides calls or six wards they missed already. So I thought let’s rank these favorite things we hear from that overzealous LaxDad all the time. Here are, in order of what LaxDad yells most often, the seven most common screams from the stands:
7.) HE’S EARLY! - Of course the FOGOs get their own special little yell for their own special little job. Also in this category is “HE’S LEANING ON IT”. A faceoff simply cannot be taken without the LaxDad peanut gallery (not on the field and several rows of seats away) letting the referee (literally within steps of the play) know that he missed an obvious jump of the whistle.
A faceoff where both players were in total compliance with the rules has, by my experience this season, never happened. Early, leaning, kicking the stick, withholding, whatever. It’s always something. I know the old “if you’re not cheating you’re not trying,” finds its way into every sport, and in the case of lacrosse that happens to be on faceoffs more than anything. But let’s be real, the cheating that’s going on in that battle is cheating that nobody sees except the two guys fighting for the ball. And by the way, let’s get nerdy for a second and remind the fans out there that you’ll see the players move before the sound of the whistle reaches you up there in the cheap seats. If you don’t know why, you aren’t smart enough to heckle a referee about a faceoff from that distance.
6.) THAT’S A WARD! - This seems to be most common in high school lacrosse lately. If a player carries the ball one handed for more than about ten yards and absorbs a check along the way, the fans will be looking for a ward. It’s as if the defender need only slap the free hand to get the call. You see this most often when a defender is lifting the bottom hand of the offensive player (a good play) and the offensive player moves his arm up to free his hand from the defender’s stick (a good and legal play). Any motion whatsoever and LaxDad is making that ward call. If you don’t want him to call a ward on you, play with both hands on the stick at all times. Even that might not be enough.
5.) HE’S GOTTA GET STICK - This one didn’t used to be as common. Maybe defenders trying to bring back the good old days of throwing takeaway checks has breathed life into a classic. If a defenseman throws a stick check and the sound of metal on metal doesn’t echo throughout the stadium, shattering panes of glass as it does, than LaxDad is weighing in. Every check is a slash, and he wants the defender in the box for at least a minute and several hours of community service after the game.
Truth be told, that defenseman can be on the gloves of the player with the ball, it’s completely legal to do so as long as he isn’t taking Paul Bunyan like swings. I know it’s been a while since I played competitively, but as a defenseman I can also tell you that refs will give you some latitude and a warning before they flag you. I’m a big proponent of making defensemen takeaway artists again. Makes the position a little more sexy, and a nice takeaway check can be just as much of a highlight play as a behind the back finish.
4.) THAT’S UP HIGH - The beauty of this one is the versatility. Stick check anywhere around the shoulders? That’s up high. Guy winds up on his back in a ground ball scrum? That’s up high. Body check of literally any kind whatsoever? That’s up high. LaxDad sees a game where all players are simply floating helmets and shoulder pads, floating along, waiting to get run into by an angry, vengeful opponent who seeks only to hand out concussions and cheap shots. Lacrosse has done a good job of trying to make calls that cut down on this sort of thing. I guess we owe it all to LaxDad.
3.) HE’S IN THE CREASE - Let’s get this out of the way right now, #SaveTheDive. Now that I’ve removed my ability to unbiased, the call for an attackman in the crease is a virtual guarantee any time an attackman scores in close and isn’t standing up when it’s over. Player gets fed and then decked from behind into the goal? HE’S IN REF! Player gets underneath a defenseman and scores while clearly out of the crease but is in it when LaxDad notices the ball went in the goal? “HE’S IN, YOU MISSED ANOTHER ONE”. I blame the removal of the dive for this obnoxious LaxDad chirping. Times were better then. No one ever yelled “HE’S IN!!” at the Gait brothers.
2,) THEY’RE OFF! - This one has a really good case for the top spot. The screaming for an offsides call is ultra commonplace. It happens at every level, and the offending LaxDad is wrong 99% of the time. The 1% of the time LaxDad is right is a time when it’s so obvious that the whole building sees it and it gets called, although LaxDad is typically upset the ref didn’t call it sooner for some reason. Did a pole go over midfield? LaxDad says you’re offsides. Clearing with four shorties? You’re offsides. God help you if two poles wind up in the offensive end somehow, the stands would spontaneously combust. Refs count forward, not back. Meaning if they count six guys in the offensive half of the field, there’s no offsides, it doesn’t matter if there’s only two behind them. LaxDad tends to just look at the defensive end, see two poles standing there with the goalie, and you know the rest.
1.) SHOT CLOCK! - I’m amazed at how quickly this one took off. I heard a shot clock yell at a youth league game that doesn’t even have keep-it-in stall warnings. At the college level, if the offense simply gets it around once before initiating, the fans want that 30 second timer on. It’s really pretty incredible how dedicated some fans are to it. I was at Yale/Bucknell, where Bucknell deliberately played slowly to limit Yale’s possessions. Completely legitimate strategy, and it worked as Bucknell got the win. There was a LaxDad who, I’m not kidding, yelled out every ten seconds that the Bucknell offense had the ball how much time had elapsed. “TWENTY SECONDS NOW REF!”.........”THAT’S THIRTY!”.........”FORTY SECONDS REF!!”.........”FIFTY SECONDS!”......”IT’S A MINUTE AND THEY AREN’T DOIN ANYTHING REF!”. For most of the fourth quarter this went on.
This LaxDad would look at the clock when Bucknell got the ball and just wait for his milestones to pass so he could yell. He bought a ticket to do this. As if the referees were incapable of monitoring the clock without the aid of LaxDad. I’m surprised the refs didn’t look to the stands at games end and nod politely, thanking LaxDad for his invaluable service of counting to ten over and over again. The shot clock rule maybe could use some refinement, and the subjectivity means it’s always going to be a little funky from game to game, but it’s good enough to get the job done now.
HONORABLE MENTION: CHECK HIS STICK! - You don’t hear this one at college games and most high school games anymore, but it’s all over the youth level. A player simply cannot run through a stick check according to LaxDad. The only explanation is that his pocket his illegal. Stick checks just don’t get called for in lacrosse anymore. The refs check them in between quarters and for timeouts, which adds up to as many as 15 a game if both teams use all three first and second half timeouts. They’ll catch the bad ones. Calm it down, LaxDad.