I was first exposed to the National Lacrosse League in 2008 when the local team, the Calgary Roughnecks offered the public a very cheap game to introduce them to the sport and maybe turn some of them into regular ticket holders. The game was a cheap $3 and did what it was supposed to do. It introduced me to a cool spectator sports that has all the thrills, the fights, the scoring, the strategy and the action of ice hockey, basketball and football. I became a fan, but didn’t follow through right away.
I went to a few games afterwards at full price but never committed particularly to supporting the local Calgary Roughnecks. What I liked about that very first game was the speed. Indoor lacrosse is fast and the change of player smoother than ice hockey. Lacrosse is Canada’s national sport. No, unlike what everyone thinks, it’s not hockey. Lacrosse was invented centuries ago by native tribes to settle disputes and wars, kinda peacefully. They use a stick with a net to shoot a ball down the enemy’s nest. Indoor lacrosse, which is popularized by the National Lacrosse League, is played on a field the size of a hockey rink. 2011 is the National Lacrosse League’s 25th season. This league is a bit more precarious than other ones in other sports. For example, teams come and go frequently. A player’s average salary is usually less than $15,000 per year. There are far fewer teams – 10 in 2011 and the number of game is less than 20 per team.
Yet, the National Lacrosse League has everything it needs to become a major contender as a North American spectator sport. It’s got a video game, and a few more coming over several platforms. It’s got a mix of television broadcast deals. It’s an easy sport to follow and understand and it moves real fast. What I realize about lacrosse as a spectator sport, is that it’s like hockey, football and basketball having a baby (don’t ask how). The baby would be lacrosse which has the best parts of the other sports while being much more older. Lacrosse teams are cheaper for smaller town to host too. I don’t know how much franchises are worth, but the asking price is nowhere near a football team or a hockey one. The expenditure on facilities is also cheaper for indoor lacrosse. It uses the exact same facilities used for ice hockey, but with a covered floor on top of the ice. No need to build a dedicated lacrosse stadium, if you have one for hockey that’s large enough.
In Calgary, they play rock and roll throughout the game and the announcers make sure they boost the crowd extensively. There’s less fights than in hockey per game, but when there’s a good one, the gloves are off and the crowd will go wild. The best part of lacrosse is the strategy. Players from opposing teams can’t step inside the crease around the goal of the other team. Some tricks that have earned some players the name of “Superman” was to go behind the net, jump in the air and score a goal inside the goal while not touching the ground and landing badly, but still scoring! Passing the ball around to your fellow team players involves more strategy than hockey and football. Beautiful passes, where the player used his brain are frequent.
As for my local team, the Calgary Roughnecks, they are winning. Their offense is their best asset and they will score multiple goals sometimes in less than a minute successively to the chagrin of the other team. Although the season is almost over, if you live in Boston, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Rochester, Toronto, Calgary, Denver, Edmonton, St-Paul and Minneapolis, and Seattle, be sure to check out your local indoor lacrosse team and support them. You may find a new and affordable spectator sport that combines all you like from hockey, basketball and football in one convenient package.