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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 Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:46 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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bobmac
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby bobmac Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:50 pm

Good to see the topic raised again. I agree with you that if Lax remains a winter sport its future will always be restricted, and that the national body, the clubs & the players need to have an extensive & serious debate about this issue.
I cannot believe that there are not plenty of rugby & hockey players, amongst other winter sports players, who would not welcome the opportunity to play a "new" summer sport, and who could probably become very good players.

As for venues, well most hockey astroturf centres are crying out for business during the summer months. Why not follow the hockey model & have five premiership games on one day at say Brooklands or similar. First game at 10am, last game at 8pm. What a feast for spectators? On astroturf we'd have a faster game, maybe a need for bigger squads, players playing at a faster tempo. Might that help us at World Championship level?

Yes there would be a loss of bar income at clubs without astroturf, but I don't see this as an insurmountable problem - perhaps some form of profit sharing on the day?

Agreed a long lead in is needed but the debate needs to start now, if not sooner!
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby Olderbytheday Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:12 pm

I have heard the idea of several games in a day before and think its a good idea. It would be easier to promote to the general public as an event and anyone who came down out of interest would be presented with a sport that has lots of players and teams rather than some isolated game in the rain.

For all the efforts of the ELA: offices at the velodrome, LDOs, Facebook and twitter pages etc it only adds up to tinkering with what's already there.

We have a world beating sport that offers just the right mix of skill, equipment, tricks and street fashion that kids are looking for but we are competing in a crowded winter market place that also has weather which ruins the game. Why?

If the sport is to grow then those at the top need to be brave and far sighted rather than looking after the interests of a few clubs who like being a big fish in a very small pond.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby falseteeth0 Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:47 am

Reasons against summer lax!

1- summer holidays

2- A-levels

3- Gcses

4- Euros

5- Worlds

6- U19 worlds/euros

7- Lax doesn't compete with football, rugby hasn't grown having moved to the summer. New players come to lax via friends, having been playing another sport at a lax club, ldo's at school etc, finally as parents have played.

Football at junior level runs August to May/June.

Finally the weather, winters compared to 30 years ago are mild but wetter but saying that in the las 10 years virtually every summer months has experienced it's wettest month since records began!

That's without alienating 80% of the lax community that are cricket club based, where clubs have put a lot of money into all sports to develop and survive.

How about looking at the reasons lax is where it is,
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bobmac
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby bobmac Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:16 pm

OK FT0, the ball is in your court. What do you consider to be the reasons lacrosse is where it is?
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby Olderbytheday Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:03 pm

Hi FT0

Thanks for your post, it's was interesting reading your points of which some hold water.

The problem with your train of thought is that it really only benefits those playing the game right now and it's just this type of thinking that has seen the sport stagnate over the last 30 years.
The guys who currently play each week are, like it or not, yesterday's men. It's kids aged 10 and under who've never heard of lacrosse that are the future. We have to do everything possible to not only introduce the game to as many as possible but MORE importantly remove any barriers stopping them from playing; some of which being:

Cost- clubs already supply basic kit for free to beginners

Time: one for parents really. During school time it's difficult to fit in all the children's clubs etc. Summer holidays is usually the reverse with parents trying to find things for them to do! ( personal experience speaking!)

School: lots of kids have commitments to school teams during the Winter. Nothing in the Summer holidays.

Weather: freezing cold, muddy pitches, games cancelled. Kids sitting on the bench freezing is not a positive.

Equipment: LAX shares the same appeal as BMX, skateboarding etc. It has great looking kit with which tricks etc can be done ( Powell brothers anyone?). Hours and £s are spent on the latest colour combinations, pocket shapes, poles, heads, training kits and even balls! Then we go and dig spuds up in the mud. Play in the Summer and its problem solved.

As for the points you made:

Summer holidays- cricket manages; plus if you have more people playing then losing a percentage each week won't matter.

A levels/ GCSES- you've padded this out to look like two problems when really they're one and the same. If you stop to think about what these exams involve you'd realise that the only time players wouldn't be available is during the actual exams. I don't know anyone, and I've done every level of exam to Degree and beyond, that doesn't take relaxation time from revision. In fact it's a necessity. One practise session and a game per week would make a great break from study.

Worlds/Euros/U19 worlds/Euros- same as above X2. These are only one problem not four.
For the relatively small number of players involved every few years either a break at the top level could be considered or simply play on without them for a couple of weeks. With a greater number of players in the sport there would be more than enough volunteers ready to step up into their club team shoes!

Football doesn't compete with us- wrong, just get down to junior training every week and see how many kids are torn between the two. Sometimes LAX wins, but not often enough.

Rugby: Summer sport? Not the last time I watched Sale play, or for that matter when my youngest wanted to give it a try. Besides rugby is a sport suited to the big and/or the fast. If you're neither of those then it's not much fun while lacrosse can be enjoyed by all sizes and speeds, rewarding those who have built up good skills through practice rather than genetic good fortune.

New players come to Lax via friends/family rather than other sports- not sure why you didn't put this as a point on its own because you're absolutely right ! Unfortunately it's also a reason why the sport is getting no where. Bringing along friends is great, but relying on reproductive prowess to produce sport playing male heirs in sufficient numbers to grow the game is mathematically flawed.

Weather- nice try, but we all know it's colder and darker in the Winter, and as a previous contributor mentioned; there are lots of all weather Winter sports clubs crying out for Summer use.

Alienating 80% of the lax community- obviously a bit of a "finger in the wind poll" but you're right, there would be lots of people who would moan and groan. However all of the complaints would be from a purely selfish, short termed viewpoint from yesterday's men ( see above). Everyone is afraid of change, but look where the status quo has got us....nowhere!

Winter lax has failed to grow in the past, is failing to grow in the present and will fail to grow in the future.


So what we need is for everyone to stop thinking solely about themselves and the here and now. Instead we need to ask where's the gap in the market, what is our USP, how do we get in front of the maximum number of people and sell effectively to them.
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Dalenator
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby Dalenator Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:49 pm

Summer time is when all the university students come home and find a lot of free time, so you'd find a lot of of squads bolstered by students returning home, which would also improve the overall student skills and BUCS won't be changing their play schedule in the year (winter) so there won't be much clashing.

the only thing i wonder, is right now, the main league is played over winter, then all the fun and serious summer tournaments are played through summer, which if you attend the lot you can pretty much play the game all year round. if the change is worked out, i can't see many people going to blues when there is frost on the ground, so what would be done in winter? would it be a couple months of nothing at all?
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby Knight Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:28 am

Guess more attempts can be made for box lacrosse then, have some indoor lax going.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby Chilli Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:59 am

Alienating 80% of the lax community- obviously a bit of a "finger in the wind poll" but you're right, there would be lots of people who would moan and groan. However all of the complaints would be from a purely selfish, short termed viewpoint from yesterday's men ( see above). Everyone is afraid of change, but look where the status quo has got us....nowhere!

Winter lax has failed to grow in the past, is failing to grow in the present and will fail to grow in the future.


Further to my comments in the South thread on this topic, your comments above are not true about SEMLA.
As discussed in previous threads SEMLA has grown over the last few years from 16 clubs (18 teams) to 36 clubs (54 teams) many of which are in completely new areas where there has never been a club before plus there has been all of the expansion at the Universities.
The generally milder winter weather in the South may have some impact but the much larger distances and time required to get to games works against growth, so your comments really only apply to the North where there must be other factors in play.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby Dining Room Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:30 pm

i can see winter sticking as the 'league' generally as it is as the 'clubs'. There is a growth opportunity for the summer game which would be more exhibition, pick-up, competition type stuff. Clubs will remain a major part of development for the forseeable as more schools and universities add to the mix massively too.

A bit like cricket - league format for the everyday cricketer with access to 20/20 for the proper keen, more dedicated ones.

I always see the club/university as the introduction for what we see as traditional lacrosse then upscale to competitions, tours, representative teams, camps, academies etc.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby c_green Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:56 pm

Lincoln relies heavily on University players, the majority of which go home for summer- this gap would not filled by students returning home from university. This would leave Lincoln unable to compete in the short term. Yes I agree if it was moved to summer we may get more interest but I don't think enough to replace the lost uni players (especially if the club was not competing in a league). I believe this is the case for other smaller developing clubs who rely on students.

As for the junior argument, how many clubs outside of Manchester have a junior team? Would this change if it was moved to a summer sport? I doubt it.

The growth of lacrosse is not stagnant, the expansion at the university level is massive. This will have (is having) a knock on effect.

The idea of many games playing at one location would still work in the winter if played on artificial pitches which are becoming increasingly common. No mud and less effected by the weather.

My 2p from a player who plays at a smaller, developing club.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby Jim13 Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:32 pm

I really like the idea of summer lacrosse and there seem a lot if players who really want to see it at whatever level.

I think with banging a few heads together something could happen next summer, even if it was the odd organised match with a few players banding together to make teams.

Maybe some structure with a few sides sorted with decent squads to allow for holidays, nagging mrs etc; I'm sure gin & juice / northern soul could get a team, same uk lacrosse, sure the knights could get players, then there's others; lax forums team, other clubs banding together a bit. Plenty of clubs represented on here; what do you think you'd get in terms of interest? Think we had about 6 games at Wilmslow on Saturday with knights, stoke, Wilmslow a and b and a mix of norbury/ Liverpool players. Some 10 min quarters and some 15 so there has to be some sort of appetite; I'd guess there were 60 players down easily.

It'd be a mixed bag to start with but I think it'd be a good chance to see what appetite there is and see how it grows from there.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby davidmcculloch81 Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:03 pm

I think beer and Dining have it about right. On the whole I agree with Mr Older's points about growth of the game and pushing to compete better at international level. However, we've seen how (many of) the established NEMLA clubs react to significant change (see league restructure) and you would get the same with a paradigm shift as big as this - basically many people willing it to fail so they can say 'I told you so'.

The way to grow it is (management speak alert) 'organically': see what the take-up is for summer pick-ups and grow it from there. If interest swells then it will naturally take over from the established play-in-the-dark-then-have-ten-pints-of-mild that NEMLA seem desperate to cling onto. The governing body will get behind what's best for the game and surely wouldn't turn a blind eye to a large ground swell of members voting with their cleats.

If there is a poor take up for summer pick-ups and elite tournaments then that would be the players voting to maintain the status quo. As always, with any move away from the established norm, it will take a number of highly dedicated volunteers - more so than the many, many good people that give their time to the current structure - as it is a change.

I personally look forward to the days where I can turn out to see a NEMLA Premiership game played on astroturf-quick pitches (whether summer grass or winter turf) and the days that England can start to climb back above the European nations that are surely about to go past us.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby the pom Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:43 am

The way I see it if you want a summer league start one.

So players will play all year some will pick one.

If players pick the summer league the winter league will die off naturally.

I quite like the current arrangement as it leaves you summer to do other things holidays get out ect whilst the weather is good.

A summer league would mean the end of tournaments like blues unless there were scheduled gaps as I don’t think this would have the same appeal being held in January.

I also don’t think there would be an massive increase in performance.

Victoria is probably the strongest state in Australia and having played a couple seasons over there apart from the cold the pitches are probably better over here but yet they outperform us regally with less resources.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby Dining Room Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:20 pm

Just like bluesfest kicked off with their game changer a few years back and before that Bath:
The touring sides that have emerged may be the key (G&J, Knights etc) . Could lead to player pools and trials, maybe a couple of clubs sticking players together for the summer. However don't be surprise if this leads to friction with the counties/regionals. Worst case would be a Thursday scrimmage with a few players short due to work etc, best case would be a weekend of lax every few weeks. As a club person, I do everything I can to encourage our players to go off and play for all these teams out of season - a great way to keep the players interested and developing and playing for fun in the sun with new team-mates, great kits, new coaches, emerging talent, room for the 'average' player, music, BBQ's, fun. People like me turning up to use the bar.....................its already happening. Maybe it just needs recognising.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby WacsDad Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:56 pm

Just thinking about the objection to summer lacrosse that most clubs share with cricket clubs and would have to move grounds.

Just how true is that and what would be the "scale" of the club moves required ?

My own club WACS would 100% have to relocate. Our 2 (grass) pitches are on the one Didsbury cricket ground which is heavily used from April-September. However, how true is this of the other 24 or so NEMLA Prem clubs. I haven't visited all of the grounds by any means, but it strikes me that many of the grounds in the Greater Manchester area, at least, are quite "spacious" with far more land than ours and would seem to me to be able to accommodate at least one cricket pitch and 1 or 2 lacrosse pitches. Some of course also already have artificial surfaces - Brooklands/Timps/Wilmslow. But I have never visited these on a summer Saturday so don't know to what use they are all put.

Which clubs could play at their present homes in the summer (with perhaps some investment) and which couldn't?

If only a small number of clubs would have to develop or relocate then it might be financially feasible with help from local government locating land & funding, and funding from other sources e.g. central government, Sport England NEMLA, sponsors, etc.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby whopead Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:59 pm

From my knowldge...i think Mellor, Poynton, Boardman may not have summer facilities (willing to be corrected though)

I imagine Mersey, Timperley, Stockport, Norbury may have some access to summer pitches

I know that Wilmslow, CHeadle Hulme do have summer space
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby Knight Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:41 pm

Try any hockey clubs around as they normally have astros at least/hockey pitches which are rarely used in summer.
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby Olderbytheday Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:00 pm

Poynton could use the football pitch.
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the pom
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Re: Can we really grow LAX in the winter?

Postby the pom Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:43 am

Mersey do not have access to summer pitches
League restructure I told you so 10/3/2011(looking good on this one)
Prem division to two leagues will result in the prem division failing and being combined with Nemla 22/3/2012
the proposed restructure to 8 teams in each prem league will only last a couple of years until it has to be restructured again due to teams dropping out. 13/12/2012

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