Archers LC midfielder Tom Schreiber said it best when the Premier Lacrosse League launched: “Everyone who has ever touched a lacrosse stick wants to see the game grow.”
Youth participation continues to grow around the country. More NCAA programs join Division I each year, expanding our sport even farther west. The University of Utah and St. Bonaventure recently completed their first DI seasons; Merrimack College and Long Island University will make the jump next spring. On a global level, 46 nations competed in the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships (up from 38 in 2014).
Tomorrow, our sport will be exposed to its largest audience yet. It’s tough to estimate the trickle-down impact of having the highest level of lacrosse reaching 85 million eyeballs per week, but expect it to be huge. How many parents will tune their televisions to NBC for Saturday Night Live, go to bed, and unknowingly cause their kids to stumble upon a Sunday afternoon PLL game?
Imagine never seeing lacrosse prior to turning on NBC this summer and watching Scott Ratliff push a fast break to Marcus Holman, who tosses a behind-the-back pass to Kevin Rice, who sends a touch pass to Will Manny on the backside pipe. Or imagine your first impression of the sport is seeing Kyle Hartzell detwig an opponent with a rusty gate check and then bury a long ball. The best lacrosse players in the world have made the leap to the Premier Lacrosse League in an effort to inspire the next generation – and the talent level is only going to get better.
“I want to see what that the 28-year-old, full-time professional lacrosse player in his prime looks like,” said Redwoods LC midfielder Kyle Harrison.
“And I think it’s going to be something we haven’t seen before. We’ve seen the skill, we’ve seen the creativity, we’ve seen all these things – and to everyone’s credit, guys have been kind of piecing it together. It’s been really difficult for guys to do it full-time. That athlete hasn’t had this – hasn’t had healthcare, elevated wages, and the opportunity to be a full-time lacrosse athlete.”
The inaugural class of PLL players is all in. Some have left their day jobs to devote themselves to PLL full-time. Chaos midfielder Myles Jones reshaped his diet and trained with Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal this offseason. Jones – like many others – reported to camp in the best shape of his life. Coaches said that Training Camp was the highest level of lacrosse they have ever seen. Like Kyle, I’m looking forward to seeing what a full-time lacrosse player looks like five years into his career; right now, I’m fired up to see 160 of the world’s best compete for the Crown this summer.
Today, everyone who has ever touched a lacrosse stick wants to see the game grow. Tomorrow, 85 million people who have never touched a lacrosse stick will want to see the game grow.