Jeff: We welcome back BCI reader Kevin to talk about his passion - men's lacrosse.
Kevin: Fairfield University, Hartford, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, Yale, Harvard, Holy Cross, Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Brown, Bryant, Providence, Vermont, Boston College ... Which one does not belong?
If you guessed Boston College, you're right! Boston College - in addition to Boston University - is one of the few major New England schools that doesn't have a men's Lacrosse program. In addition to those 13 schools, an additional 14 lie in New York.
Why isn't Boston College one of these teams?
Some say the money, others say lack of previous BC men's lacrosse success. For the money, lacrosse has a great market along the Eastern seaboard, and the sport's popularity is increasing nationwide. I mean if we have a skiing team, then why the hell don't we have a lacrosse team? When is the last time any of you current or former students visited a BC ski meet? No offense to any one in the program, but, it is simply not a high-demand sport.
For the lack of success, BC's men's lacrosse program, which ended in 2002, never won any sort of championship (although I can't seem to find any good info on it). However, this can be pointed to the fact that lacrosse was not as major of a sport as it is now. Since 2002, boy's high school lacrosse participation has increased from over 40,000 players to over 80,000. Clearly, with the increase in interest, a potential BC lacrosse team, with some decent recruiting effort, could make a small impact in the four team ACC.
Oh, and another fun stat. Since 1990, both men's and women's lacrosse participation has increased 528%. Can you say WTF?
Jeff: I feel many people look at the list of varsity sports that BC offers and are quick to jump and say why do we have a skiing team and not lacrosse? Or Brian's favorite, why do we have men's tennis and not lacrosse?
What the average fan seems to not understand is that Title IX does not call for a proportionate number of varsity sports between men and women but it calls for a proportionate number of scholarships, dollars spent, and athletes. It takes several women's sports to balance out a school's football program. Therefore, tennis and skiing teams would be too small to balance out a lacrosse team.
Right now, BC has 16 women's varsity programs to only 13 men's teams. Unfortunately, fielding a varsity men's lacrosse program is complicated.
I do agree that lacrosse is one of, if not the, fastest growing sports in the country. With that said though, where I live in South Carolina, there are no recreation lacrosse teams or high school lacrosse teams in the area and consequently, if you go to Dick's Sporting Goods, there is not a single lacrosse stick or piece of equipment. It is interesting that Duke and UNC have become powerhouses just a little north of here while the sport has not really gotten into South Carolina.
Should BC get a lacrosse program in the future, do you think playing in the ACC and going against Duke, North Carolina and Virginia will help them build and recruit for the program just as the ACC move helped baseball?
Kevin: Well, all signs would point to yes as far as recruiting goes. Not only is there Duke, North Carolina and Virginia but there's also Maryland, our closest ACC neighbor and biggest lacrosse state in the nation. I would say it's pretty much the same as college baseball except for a regional switch because baseball isn't really followed too much in Maryland or any of the northeast. It may take a few years, but playing lacrosse in the ACC has the potential to be incredibly successful.
As for the lack of southern participation, it is starting to pick up in neighboring states (as you said North Carolina is incredibly big on lacrosse). It's also picking up in places as far south as Florida (I know of a few high schools who recently started up programs, so, hopefully it would pick up attention by colleges). It's really only a matter of time before lacrosse can compete with other sports like basketball (I also should note that the NCAA Lacrosse Championship attendance was only passed by the Final Four).
Jeff: Thanks for the info on lacrosse, Kevin. I hope that BC gets a program eventually but I would not count on it too soon. Thanks to Title IX, it's very complicated.