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We're a week away from the second year of the professional field lacrosse battle between Major League Lacrosse and the Premier Lacrosse League.

 

MLL starts it's condensed season on July 18th at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. Games to be aired on ESPN+ and ESPN2.

 

Meanwhile the PLL will hold a Champion Series at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah beginning on July 25th. Games will air on NBC, NBC SportsNet and NBC Sports Gold.

 

 

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MLL may already be at a disadvantage despite starting a week ahead of the PLL. Only 3 MLL games will be on ESPN2. Both games scheduled for July 19 and the championship game on the 26th. Most of the PLL's games will be on NBCSN.

 

Pro Lacrosse is a niche sport to most. Getting as many eyes as possible on the product seems like a must. Having your games predominantly on a subscription streaming service may come back to bite MLL. With that said I have no idea what the numbers are of people subscribed to ESPN+ vs the numbers of homes that have NBCSN.  

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Well, you said it yourself... Pro lacrosse is a niche sport and putting it on a streaming service like ESPN+ is the best option they could have in the MLL.

 

The PLL's deal with NBC helps in that there's four games on traditional television (including the Championship game). Contrast to MLL having only three games on ESPN2.. not even ESPN, it's ESPN2.

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I've watched both games from the sidelines as a photographer, and I can't really say which I prefer. 

 

PLL by far does a better job marketing, though. Every time the whistle blows, there is at least one camera crew on the field doing an interview, getting a live reaction, etc. The players have really bought in to Rabil's strategy, and it's working. It doesn't quite have the carnival atmosphere I would love to see from it (i.e. All-Star Game vibes), but it's a good presentation, and it's portable, which is the biggest thing. The only real problem I had was that I didn't find myself very invested, because there was no "hometown team"

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57 minutes ago, nash61 said:

The only real problem I had was that I didn't find myself very invested, because there was no "hometown team"

I think the touring model may have been a good call on PLL's part. MLL already had it's flags planted in most of the lacrosse hotbeds across the country. The way I see it,  MLL is limited to the 6 cities where it's teams are located. Where as PLL has the freedom to explore and develop areas outside of the traditional lacrosse belt. One of the biggest selling points Paul Rabil has been stating about his league is that PLL wants the game to grow. You can't grow being limited to just the northeast and Denver. I follow the PLL on facebook, and I've been surprised by the amount of people from the west coast, midwest, the south, & even overseas that were hoping the PLL tour came to a city near them. There's an untapped market for lacrosse that the PLL is actively trying to reach out to. 

 

Besides, I don't think the touring model will be long term. If PLL outlives MLL, I can definitely picture the PLL shifting to a traditional home team model.

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1 hour ago, nash61 said:

The only real problem I had was that I didn't find myself very invested [in the PLL], because there was no "hometown team"

 

I can definitely understand that. No matter how great the PLL's production is, and even no matter how great its talent is, the fact that its teams are not associated with cities makes the whole thing feel less important, even slightly cheesy.

 

I know that I was a lot more interested in Paul Rabil when he was a member of the New York Lizards or the Boston Cannons than I am now that he is the impresario of the PLL and a player/owner with something called Atlas, even though I am ideologically predisposed to support a player-run league.

 

I fully understand that the assigning of professional teams to cities is a fiction. But it's a fiction in which I am emotionally invested, and which I need in order to sustain interest.

 

This probably accounts for why I could not get passionate about individual sports. I liked Connors, Borg, and especially McEnroe when I was a kid; but after they were gone, I didn't care about tennis in the slightest. If World Team Tennis had been the sport's primary form, rather than just a summer side gig, then I may well have developed a long-term interest in tennis.

 

 

13 minutes ago, 4_tattoos said:

I don't think the touring model will be long term. If PLL outlives MLL, I can definitely picture the PLL shifting to a traditional home team model.

 

If the PLL puts the MLL out of business, it will be unlikely to adopt the model of its vanquished former competitor.

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See, this is where an alternative league can get some traction. You have to do it when the primary league for said sport is in a rut and you're not quite competing with them directly. Also, said sport can't be a cultural juggernaut. 

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So how are the PLL and MLL going to do social justice?  Especially when it's a sport not known to be diverse among it's ranks.  

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I could see the PLL really getting involved with BLM or some other kind of social justice movement. The league, although not very diverse in terms of players, is pretty progressive.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, GDAWG said:

So how are the PLL and MLL going to do social justice?  Especially when it's a sport not known to be diverse among it's ranks.  

 

If you mean the rich prep school types? Look where lacrosse is popular plus who typically wins elections in those regions and you'll get the idea that they probably would go all-in. Also, everything I've seen from corporate America (including major sports leagues) over the last month says they would too.

Edited by Red Comet

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I tried to quote two of the posts above, but experienced technical difficulties.

 

My thoughts on the separate business models are as follows:

 

1.  Put me in the camp of having a harder time developing any type of allegiance under the non-city/PLL model.  Maybe it's just because I have lived for 52 years only knowing the traditional/MLL model, but the PLL model feels like a series of exhibitions to me.  Even in sports where I don't have a local/natural rooting interest, I have an easier time developing an attraction to a team "assigned" to a city than I would a touring team.  That may be because games in those sports almost always have a home crowd adding to the atmosphere (excluding neutral site games).

 

2.  The MLL could help grow the game and counter the PLL plan by having each time play neutral site games each season.  To further emulate the PLL model, they could play double headers.  Otherwise, each neutral market could host as many games as the league thought appropriate each season or just host one game each season.

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1 hour ago, Red Comet said:

 

If you mean the rich prep school types? Look where lacrosse is popular plus who typically wins elections in those regions and you'll get the idea that they probably would go all-in. Also, everything I've seen from corporate America (including major sports leagues) over the last month says they would too.

 

I have always seen the sport as elitist.  

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Posted (edited)
53 minutes ago, GDAWG said:

 

I have always seen the sport as elitist.  

 

Oh, the origin of its current popularity certainly is and the only place I saw it really take off around me was Johnson County which happens to be full of wealthy people. 

 

I know its popular in the Northeast (like prep schools) in a way comparable to NASCAR in the South so that's where I'm getting my thesis from.

 

EDIT: This map isn't exactly a perfect indicator of the popularity of lacrosse but showing a map of how many boys in each state play the sport in high school is as best a barometer of what I could find. I will say I'm surprised at how popular it is in NC, GA and FL. OH too.

 

spacer.png

Edited by Red Comet

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1 hour ago, Red Comet said:

EDIT: This map isn't exactly a perfect indicator of the popularity of lacrosse but showing a map of how many boys in each state play the sport in high school is as best a barometer of what I could find. I will say I'm surprised at how popular it is in NC, GA and FL. OH too.

 

spacer.png

 

The map doesn't show anyone playing in Texas, but this is a thing . . . 

 

Texas High School Lacrosse League

 

Meanwhile, I had no idea that this happened until three minutes ago. . . 

 

https://lacrossebucket.com/2020/04/23/how-johns-hopkins-and-navy-brought-lacrosse-to-texas/

 

Johns Hopkins vs. Navy before 20,000 fans in the Astrodome . . . in 1971.

 

See the 2:09 mark . . . 
 

 

 

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3 hours ago, leopard88 said:

 

2.  The MLL could help grow the game and counter the PLL plan by having each time play neutral site games each season.  To further emulate the PLL model, they could play double headers.  Otherwise, each neutral market could host as many games as the league thought appropriate each season or just host one game each season.

 

I don't know how well that could work seeing how MLL is losing the marketing/visibility battle to the PLL badly, and shows no signs of changing up their strategies to compete with a rival league.  The PLL came into existence in part because the MLL failed to grow the game beyond it's niche following. Whether or not the PLL can succeed where MLL has failed remains to be seen, but in it's short existence the PLL has gone balls out to get eyes on their league and the sport as a whole.

 

Even worse for MLL, many of their long time players have already jumped shipped to PLL. They need to focus on ways of keeping their players happy, because it seems most MLL players are just waiting for their contracts to expire so they can join the other league.  

 

 

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, leopard88 said:

 

The map doesn't show anyone playing in Texas, but this is a thing . . . 

 

Texas High School Lacrosse League

 

Meanwhile, I had no idea that this happened until three minutes ago. . . 

 

https://lacrossebucket.com/2020/04/23/how-johns-hopkins-and-navy-brought-lacrosse-to-texas/

 

Johns Hopkins vs. Navy before 20,000 fans in the Astrodome . . . in 1971.

 

See the 2:09 mark . . . 
 

 

 

 

To be fair, that map did specify in legalese-sized font that it only accounted for states whose high school athletic commissions actively promoted lacrosse. And it's from 2015-16. Again, hardly perfect. Still, surprised lacrosse is so popular in Texas. 

 

I think PPL isn't going to hold onto being exclusively touring cities if MLL keels over. I could see touring continue, but only as a way to scout interest in expanding to new markets after settling down teams in the MLL's old markets.

Edited by Red Comet

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5 minutes ago, 4_tattoos said:

 

I don't know how well that could work seeing how MLL is losing the marketing/visibility battle to the PLL badly, and shows no signs of changing up their strategies to compete with a rival league.  The PLL came into existence in part because the MLL failed to grow the game beyond it's niche following. Whether or not the PLL can succeed where MLL has failed remains to be seen, but in it's short existence the PLL has gone balls out to get eyes on their league and the sport as a whole.

 

Even worse for MLL, many of their long time players have already jumped shipped to PLL. They need to focus on ways of keeping their players happy, because it seems most MLL players are just waiting for their contracts to expire so they can join the other league.  

 

 

 

The best solution for the sport as a whole is probably some sort of hybrid approach.  The PLL has done a great job of getting exposure with its TV package and by continuing to play in new markets.  However, given my sense that most people are (like me) most used to the city-based team model, I think the novelty of constant touring will wear off at some point.

 

That gets us back to the neutral site game approach.  In the PLL's case, maybe that means assigning home markets for 2-4 games per year for each time while continuing the barnstorming on other weekends on the calendar.  

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29 minutes ago, leopard88 said:

I think the novelty of constant touring will wear off at some point.

I am not entirely familiar with the model, but I would have to imagine that it is exhausting for the players.

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