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Saturday, November 22, 2008

MCLA - Part 2

I know that the NCAA was listed first, but I wanted to start here. The biggest hurdle the MCLA faces is the fact they are a club-level lacrosse league. Club level sports generally suffer from a lack of exposure on the national level and are primarily unfunded or at least underfunded teams. Some are not even allowed to use "official" school logos on their sites or gear.

Another problem affecting the MCLA is the randomness of its divisional assignments. Nebraska and Iowa State are both Big 12 schools and are close in proximity, but they play in separate lacrosse conferences. The GRLC is a mess of a conference with teams in Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Illinois, and Indiana.

At least the UMLL concentrates its teams in the general northern (or Upper!) Midwestern states of Minnesota, NW Wisconsin, and North Dakota. Iowa State is the odd man out. It would definitely make more sense to have the Cyclones in the same conference as their nearby Big 12 opponents or even the other Iowa schools.

In addition, some teams are receive considerable more funding than others. Brigham Young has long been known as a team with spectacular sponsorships rivaling some NCAA Division I programs. Currently, they receive their uniforms, sticks, pads, and gloves from Harrow. Riddell gives them helmets.

Michigan receives the same level of Adidas (previously Nike) sponsorship as the NCAA varsity programs, which includes uniforms, practice wear, apparel, and shoes. Warrior provides them with their sticks and equipment. Rumor has it that the Wolverines want to move to NCAA Division 1 soon...

So, how can this club division be fixed? The first answer is to move the better funded clubs to the NCAA (which will be discussed in the next article). This would be complicated and would require some transition time (among other things), but could be done. Another option would be to realign the conferences to ensure geographical close competition on a regular basis. Highlighting regional and traditional rivalries would enhance the experience and give fans more to cheer for.

Securing better and more expansive sponsorship deals would be a good endeavor. At the very least, the MCLA division one programs should have some sort of helmet deal to ensure that every player on a given team is wearing a matching helmet. Even having every player wear the same color lid would help, but not many can afford to drop $200+ on a new helmet. When schools like Iowa State wear red helmets, they face this issue more than schools adorned in black, like Iowa. Glove deals seem easier to come by, plus, many schools wear black or white gloves which provides more flexibility. If the schools lack a sponsor, they usually offer some sort of supplier discount. Adam Stillman explained that Iowa benefits from such a deal in his interview.Providing more media exposure would help. Campus papers should work to promote the club teams. Players should work with local youth programs and groups to set up camps and clinics. By working with the young, they ensure the teams' futures. The MCLA would also benefit from better advertising of the national championship. Will any of this happen? Only time will tell.

Continue to Part 3

Tribe 7