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Friday, October 16, 2009

Box Lax - Coming Together

I have almost everybody's money for the inaugural box lacrosse season. A couple of people contacted me yesterday so i know their cash is coming in. A couple more are question marks. Aside from the people I talked to yesterday, the league still has room for a few more field players. If you are interested, contact me ASAP and complete the registration info. If you have mailed your payment and have not contacted me or been contacted by me, it is essential that you let me know it has been sent. I plan to turn off the Paypal on Sunday night and will return all late registrations once the league is full...
For everybody that has paid: I plan to email the preliminary schedule and possibly the rosters by the end of the weekend. I have to do some tweaking due to winter break for the college kids, but the number of games will remain unchanged. The rosters are still beign finalized for the Demons & Valley. We are trying to decide if we should split the high schoolers and adults between the teams or not. Feedback?

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Prediction Might Be Closer Than I Realized

Last winter, not long after I started this blog, I wrote a series about mainstream sports companies moving to lacrosse. Most of this was speculation about the next brand that could move into lax, but I also talked about some established brands. By now everybody knows that Reebok, Nike, and Adidas have successfully debuted their equipment.

With an exclusive NLL deal, Reebok gets fairly constant feedback and their gear is held in high regard. Having sampled some via Valley team members, I have to say that their lax gear is as good as, if not better than, their hockey equipment.

All of Nike's gear is produced by STX. This gives Nike an immediate competitive advantage as they did not waste time on research and development and were able to immediately jump into the game. Their products made their official onfield debut during the 2009 NCAA championships on a few players at Cornell, Hopkins, and Syracuse. All three schools have endorsement deals with both Nike and STX. Expect this trend to continue. Rumors are also swirling that the G22 line will be axed by STX to make Nike their premier line.

Adidas launched a subpar line to negative reviews. Strong movements on the contract and endorsement side of things helped bring Adidas to the forefront. To match these moves, the company has increased the look and quality of their gear with the new John Grant Jr line. Much like Nike, expect Adidas gear on NCAA teams sooner rather than later.

Now I want to move back to one of the companies I focused on during my speculation - Easton. I gave a few reasons why Easton is poised to move into lacrosse. Perhaps most encouraging is their extremely popular hockey pads, gloves, and equipment. Their extensive knowledge and innovative use of aluminum alloys and composite materials in their arrow, baseball and softball bats, and hockey sticks also indicates a strong potential to produce quality lacrosse equipment.
What I did not realize at the time of my writing was the fact the Easton is sort of involved in lacrosse already. Ok, technically Easton is not involved, but its corporate sibling is. Through the investment group, Fenway Partners, corporate acquisitions brought Easton Sports, Bell Sports, and Riddell Sports Group together in 2006. Riddell is a renown producer of quality lacrosse helmets and maker of pads and gloves under the Onyx name (formerly Riddell and Shamrock). while the pads are less than popular, the helmets are used by many NCAA and MCLA teams, and were formerly worn by team USA (Warrior now has the national team's contract).

What does this mean? Considering the movement of the major players to lax, it only makes sense for Easton to join them. Combining the lax resources of Riddell/Onyx with the hockey experience of Easton would be the most practical move. Doing so would give Easton a couple of options. First they could build upon their strong baseball and hockey reputation to make themselves a premium lacrosse brand out of the gate - similar to Reebok's approach. Second, they could continue to utilize the Onyx brand as a lower-priced entry point for beginners. The relationship would be more defined that that of Nike/STX, Warrior/Brine, and Adidas/Reebok. This might give Easton a clear advantage in terms of brand perception.

Easton is also in a unique position to revolutionize the lacrosse helmet market. Their hockey helmet has only been available to the general public for little over a year and has already become one of the top sellers. Its primary rival, the Mission Intake, is no longer being produced and the current crop of Reebok, CCM, and Bauer lids are far less inspired. Strengthening their ability to take the helmet market by force is the deeper corporate portfolio. In addition to Riddell, Easton would have access to Bell's technologies. Bell is the top manufacturer for extreme sports helmets. It is not hard to imagine a slew of new models from this company taking on Cascade more successfully than its current offerings.

Will an Easton rebrand happen? Most likely. It is just a matter of when, not if.

Tribe 7