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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

Friday, November 21, 2008

Save The Tatas

This is not lacrosse related, but she is from Iowa. This is my friend Jessyca. She modeled for Save the Tatas.
Previous - Next

Thursday, November 20, 2008

SoBe & The Long Island Lizards

As I've stated before, I'm a fan of the Long Island Lizards lacrosse team. It also happens that I am a fan of SoBe, the beverage company. Their products are bottled by Pepsi in most areas. I recommend the Lean Green Tea.
These pics show some of the history the Lizards have with SoBe.

I don't know if this pic is related to the Lizards at all, but the name made me kind of think so...

Improving Lacrosse on a National Level - Part 1

Part of bringing lacrosse to Des Moines, Iowa is making the national lax scene more visible. Sure the NCAA Championships are highly attended, but are they highly watched? What I am saying is, the championships are pretty much held on the east coast in traditional hotbed areas like Boston and Maryland. The games are broadcast on ESPN, but does anyone outside of the east coast or Colorado even watch the games? Obviously people like me do, but then again I have Mediacom's college sports pack so I watch a lot of regular season games too.

Along with the exposure problems the NCAA lacrosse faces, the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association suffers from a nearly complete lack of visibility. Pretty much any casual fan is unaware of the league's existence. Their championships were televised on CSTV (channel 171 in Des Moines) this year, but were not advertised at all. All of the local area college teams linked in my sidebar play in the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference or the Upper Midwest Lacrosse League. Most of the people I know who went to Iowa or ISU are completely unaware that lacrosse teams even exist there (but, they were unaware of the hockey teams too, so...).

Major League Lacrosse, the only professional outdoor lacrosse league in North America, is pretty much unknown to everybody. With its ninth season coming next spring, the fledgling league is still struggling to establish itself. It has slowly been building itself from an exclusively east coast league by expanding to four western cities in 2006. When Chicago, Los Angeles, San Fransico, and Denver joined the league, the new teams set new attendance records. Now they are looking to add even more western cities and relocate poor performing teams on the east coast. It is a step in the right direction at least...

The other pro league, the National Lacrosse League, has been around longer and has had its own expansion over the years. Unfortunately, the league has had a few teams go kaput as well. Now the league has more secure sponsorship, a higher quality of player, and a more visible presence. Many of the teams are owned by NHL owners and can piggyback on the rink leases of the hockey teams, which saves money. Others, notably Chicago, are in otherwise empty state-of-the-art facilities and receive decent deals as the marquee tenants.

Perhaps by examining the top levels of lacrosse, the lower levels can flourish. Improving the existing games to ensure their longevity may inspire more states to enact youth lacrosse programs. As many adults in states like Iowa have no clue about lacrosse, their kids tend to not be exposed to the sport either. However, more and more kids are getting interested in the game due to its semi-underground status; it is almost the modern equivalent of skateboarding. Flashy marketing by companies like Warrior help reinforce this image. While this approach is somewhat successful, getting potential coaches interested is the key to creating successful youth programs. This series looks at how this might happen.

Continue to Part 2

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Upcoming Local Sports

It's that time of year again - Des Moines' pro (and junior league) winter sports teams are getting into full swing.

The Chops and Bucs have already started playing. The pigs are have started the season stronger than the Stars ever did and have proved to be far more entertaining than the green and gold were. Fights and goals abound. I love it. I have yet to hit the Madhouse on Hickman this year, but I plan to catch at least one Bucs game before Christmas. It just depends on how my schedule works out. Maybe my attendance will bring them out of their slump...
The Energy are about ready to take the court at Wells Fargo Arena. Better fill up on turkey because the purple and orange hit the hardwood on the day after Thanksgiving. As a rule, I am not a big fan of basketball. I am a 5' 10" white guy; "White Men Can't Jump" perfectly describes me on the court.

On the high school level, the Oak Leafs look to defend their back-to-back hockey championships and the Capitals look to get into the mix. Both teams are highly regarded in the Midwest High School Hockey League and feature a ton of local talent from many area schools. Don't forgot about the annual Turkey Cup between the two teams on Tuesday, November 25.

Outside of Des Moines, the Iowa State and Iowa hockey teams are rolling along too. The Cyclones are off to a great start in their new Reebok jerseys and crappy "I-State" logo. The "Black" Hawks have started lousy, but the "Gold" Hawks are on a roll.
I know they are outside of Iowa, but the Swarm's 2009 NLL season is just around the corner as well. The blue bugs have the potential to rock the east, but must look out for the Rochester Knighthawks and their latest acquisition, Gary Gait.

Links to each teams 2008 schedules: Iowa Chops
Des Moines Buccaneers
Iowa Energy
Des Moines Oak Leafs
Des Moines Capitals
Cyclone Hockey
Hawkeye (Gold) Hockey
Hawkeye (Black) Hockey
Minnesota Swarm

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Poll - Best Lax Brands!!!!

I've added a new poll to the sidebar asking for your lacrosse equipment preferences. Select the brand (or brands) that you think make the best equipment. If your company is not listed, select "Other" and post the name in the comments section below. If you like the sticks at one company and the pads at another, select them both and post your preferences in the comments below. If you don't play lacrosse, but love the look of somebody's gear or love their ads - well, you get the idea.
This poll will run to the end of January 2009.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Where Things Stand

I hope you enjoyed the two Hawkeye interviews. That is all I have been able to get done for now. Unfortunately, I have not heard back from anybody at ISU, Neb, UNO, Creighton, or any of the other schools. I know that this is just after midterm time and Thanksgiving break is coming up, so I will hold off on bothering them for the time being. As I hear back from anybody, I will write up and post the interviews. The bad part is that the two guys who responded were not even from Iowa! Every one of the Iowa-based schools has native Iowans on its roster. You'd think that they would help out a bit...
Prior to those interviews, I posted some lengthy blogs about the various types of lacrosse being played in North America. I know that part of that was lifted straight from Wikipedia, but I did that for the convenience of the people who are completely new to the sport. I wanted to have everything in one east-to-access location. Hopefully the pictures included kind of helped tell the story. Speaking of which, have you responded to the polls? Let me know what you like to play (or even would like to play if you had the option) by selecting an item on the sidebar poll.

By now you may have noticed the Great Atlantic Lacrosse and Eurosport Soccer links on my page. Maybe you noticed the Great Atlantic Lacrosse hyperlinks when the company is mentioned in one of my blogs. In case you are wondering what those are about, I honestly support that company. I have ordered from Sports Endeavors (the parent company of Great Atlantic Lacrosse and Eurosport Soccer) several times over the last few years and have been extremely satisfied. After signing up with Club Lax at Great Atlantic Lacrosse, I received an offer to place the company's links on my site. Yes, I do get a small commission if you click the link and complete a transaction. However, anyone that knows me realizes that I only endorse companies I believe in. In other words, I would not put a link to Great Atlantic Lacrosse up here if I thought they were anything less than spectacular.

So, where do we go from here? Wherever we can. First and foremost, we need more people to get involved. If you have an inkling somebody may be even remotely interested, get them to this site and/or to the Des Moines Lacrosse League site. I think there should be no problem having high school age kids play with adult right now since most of those boys are bigger than us anyway. Although we will be playing the "male" version of lax, I am not opposed to interested women joining in. Let me hear what you want by voting in the polls and posting comments. This site is set up for anonymous users to post, so feel free.

At some point we need to get some fields picked out. We should be able to play wherever, but we may have to reserve fields and/or get permits and whatnot. I want to get an idea of how many players we may have before getting too involved in that though so I will have a better idea of our needs. Along with that, we will need goals. Chumash, as you read earlier, uses a special goal, so its use would be quite limited. However, if that is the route we would most likely go, then it may be worthwhile to build/buy one. Otherwise, we would need a couple of lacrosse goals. For the time being, practice or "backyard" goals would be sufficient. The only problem is that they start around $100 or more and making them does not look much cheaper. At this point, I am unsure of where the cash will come from...

On that same note, if/when we get enough players for a GPLL team or even rec league, we may need a sponsor or two. A few local businesses sponsor teams in the adult hockey league, so if we could get something similar for lax, that would be great. I am not positive about how business sponsorships would work, but team/jersey deals are highly likely and I would definitely pimp them on this site. Reversible practice jerseys are a big thing in lacrosse and are usually fairly inexpensive ($8.99 each for Club Lax orders of 25 or more at Great Atlantic Lacrosse). That is a "play it by ear" scenario right now and we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

I will continue trying to recruit people to play lacrosse in the Des Moines area. I will keep trying to interview players at local college clubs. I will keep searching for info on the West Des Moines/Waukee high school lacrosse club. Above all, I will keep posting everything I can that is even remotely related to lacrosse in Des Moines. In the meantime, check out the Warrior Nation.

Tribe 7