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Can we really grow LAX in the Winter?

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Olderbytheday
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Can we really grow LAX in the Winter?

Postby Olderbytheday Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:03 am

Probably the oldest question in the game is "why don't we play in the Summer?".

Since first picking up a stick 37 years ago ( can that be? ) there have been so many times where games have been cancelled because of the weather, or even worse, played in conditions so atrocious that either sticks don't work because of the mud or injuries ( torn ACLs ) occurred on frozen/rutted ground.

Last season while helping out with the U12s memories flooded back when our 10 year old goalie came off in tears because he could no longer feel his feet or hands with the cold.

We are kidding ourselves if we think we can really attract large numbers of kids to the sport if we continue to play in the Winter.

No matter how great the game is we will never be able to compete with football and rugby. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded.

"The fastest game on foot"...... Certainly not in the UK when played on muddy pitches which stop bounced shots dead in their tracks,dodging difficult and ground ball something akin to a potato harvest!

And why would anyone other than the truly committed stop by to watch? Fancy standing in the rain and cold to watch a group of guys trying to throw a mud covered ball with sticks that no longer work properly because of the conditions? No thanks.
Don't fancy watching? How about helping out as a bench official? Didn't think so.

Training/coaching sessions? These are even worse than the games. As its Winter and most occur during the evening they take place on all weather surfaces ( now we have the ball bouncing wildly ) under floodlights ( either shining in your eyes or large underlit areas ) in the freezing cold! Hmm let me think.....how many ten year olds are going to swap their x-box for that?

So what about the Summer?

Well for a start the ball and sticks would work as intended ( no more stopping of play because the ball is lost in the mud ) making the game in the UK closer to its intended appearance and more enjoyable for everyone.
Kids could train in daylight during longer warmer Summer evenings, and more would show up because we wouldn't be competing against the multi-billion pound industry of football. Come to think about it....which contact team sport are we competing against in the Summer?
We might even find that the number of people watching a game increased to a level sufficient enough to be called a crowd! This crowd could then be sold food and drinks and encouraged to stay a little longer after the game, increasing revenue for the clubs.
Fancy helping out on the bench? More likely now isn't it?

So why don't we play in the Summer?
The oldest response to the oldest question is "the big clubs all play at Cricket Clubs and it would mean they have to move grounds"
Well that's just a lazy, self interested response.
There are lots of Winter based sports fields and facilities that would welcome usage during the Summer ( our competitors of football and rugby spring to mind). A planned move as part of a long term strategy giving clubs 5 or so years to find alternative homes could lead to huge expansion of the sport in the UK over the next decade seeing thousands of kids trying and taking up lacrosse as their main Summer sport.
You never know we may even be able to field a competitive national team at some point!

So tell me again....." Why don't we play in the Summer?"
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Chilli
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the Winter?

Postby Chilli Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:36 pm

SEMLA had a full and open discussion of this topic for most of last season that was formally extended to every Club and player to contribute.

There is a thread somewhere on here that covers some aspects of it.

All of the reasons to change that you state above and others were covered and all of the counter arguments that others have put were also raised exhaustively.

The end result after several months of discussion was that the vast majority of players are happy to stay with the season as it is and do not want to switch to the summer.

The result was so clear cut that it is therefore unlikely that SEMLA will formally discuss this topic again for many seasons.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the Winter?

Postby Olderbytheday Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:15 pm

Hi,

This has been raised more times over the years than I care to mention. The problem is that we always ask the wrong question to the wrong people.

If we really care about growing the game we shouldn't be asking those playing at the moment what they would like to do. Of course they don't want to change things. What they have now suits them. That's why they are playing the game.

What we should be asking is "does playing in the winter give us the best chance of growing the sport in the future?" We should be asking kids/parents who DON'T play and who have never heard of LAX what would suit them best. What would attract them to the sport? What do you play on a regular basis in the Winter/Summer? Etc

Ask the pig in s**t is he happy and what do you think the answer will be?
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Chilli
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the Winter?

Postby Chilli Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:15 am

Then by your own reasoning you're asking the wrong people the wrong question by bringing the issue here.

I agree with most of what you say but your argument would imply that people with little to zero knowledge of the game would potentially be attracted to take up the sport if a time period that suited them could be identified and your belief is that a number would say the summer as it wouldn't clash with their winter sport.

Assuming that this is correct, where are the resources going to come from to coach the new people, provide equipment loans for new starters, hire facilities,who's going to form them into teams? How are they going to find teams to play against? Do you start a separate summer lax organisation? What if no 'winter' clubs joined the summer league?
Where does all the funding come from? Do you expect that there would be enough new people willing to buy their own kit immediately, to pay enough fees to pay for everything?

Since the ELA's total professional resources are limited, the answers to those issues could only come from the volunteers found in the current clubs.

Since many clubs struggle to get enough volunteers to maintain and grow the present structure, how likely is it that those same volunteers would want to turn their 6-9 month commitment at present into a constant 12 month commitment?

If there were such volunteer resources wouldn't they be better invested on expanding knowledge of and access to existing clubs or encouraging the development of new clubs in new areas where all of the above issues can to some degree be better managed?

Although I have been a lukewarm supporter of the move to a summer season, I think the argument is now pointless and a better approach is to focus on improving what we have.
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Olderbytheday
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the Winter?

Postby Olderbytheday Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:34 am

Hi Chilli,

I see you've joined in on the debate in the Northern section which has been quite lively, but I thought I'd do the polite thing and answer the points you raised here.

Asking the wrong people: no, my logic is correct. This is exactly where it hould be raised as its the lacrosse community that needs to ask the questions, but not to each other. We need to go out beyond our tiny world and find out if others are interested, but we are the ones with the knowledge and need to decide what it is we are going to ask, who we are going to ask, and how. It's basic market research BUT not in the existing market- what good is one pig asking another?

Resources: £3.8 million's not a bad start.

Organisation: isn't that what the ELA, NELA, SELA are for?
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Chilli
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the Winter?

Postby Chilli Sat Aug 17, 2013 12:21 pm

OBTD, the £3.8M sounds a lot but is for three (or is it 5?) years and is basically to cover the salaries of the professional staff and running expenses. The funds available for actual development are a fraction of a fraction of that figure. The ELA gives grants to the men's game through the MPC with a total pot each year of £30-50k depending who you talk to.

That money is enough to help existing and new clubs to do some development work as long as the volunteers provide the unpaid extra effort.

There is no enormous pot of money for development or warehouse full of spare coaching staff waiting for the call and never has been.

Growth in the game always has been,and probably always will be, driven by volunteers who get the laxbug and do enormous amounts of work for no reward other than the pleasure of the game.
The ELA/SEMLA/NEMLA can work to create a structure that is supportive of such volunteers, that removes barriers and offers as much advice and assistance as possible but until we find a Bill Gates or a Sheikh Mansour with deep pockets the basic facts won't change.

I think that your frustration (and that of many others) about the lack of growth in the game is specifically about the North as I have pointed out the growth over the last decade in the South has been dramatic by any measure.

As has been pointed out, summer around the UK and Europe is now packed with events that would allow people to play all summer long if they want to.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the Winter?

Postby Raptor_attack Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:05 pm

If you don't think lacrosse is expanding in the south look at the SEMLA tables from 10 years ago and compare the number of teams to now. There were 4 leagues then, in one ladder. Now there are 6, with enought to create regional leagues. Now there are clubs capable of putting out 3 teams. Lacrosse is growing, it would be foolish to think otherwise. A large part of the growth comes from university teams, to switch to summer lacrosse removes these teams from the league, which would be a mistake.
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Blind Zebra
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the Winter?

Postby Blind Zebra Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:07 am

Lacrosse is the fastest growing field sport in England!

So we can.

BeeZee.
In glorious Black & White at a pitch near you.
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JC
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the Winter?

Postby JC Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:20 pm

After the discussions at the regular monthly teleconference committees (which are open to every one to attend) a speculative offer was made to clubs to run an additional summer league.

Based on 8-a-side teams, no player eligibility rules, 4 teams, 6 fixtures spread over the summer concluding the weekend before the Bath 8s we asked for 4 clubs to host matches and we needed 32 players to show an interest.

This was circulated to all SEMLA clubs and we received interest from 3 teams and far less than 32 players.

If you can find 4 teams to host games and 32 players then a small summer league becomes a possibility. If successful it would expand, if unsuccessful it would fail.

If we can't make this small step there is little point in discussing moving the whole winter programme to the summer.

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