Defending Kyle Devitte & The MLL


Defending Kyle Devitte on the lacrosse field is easy – stay on his hands, push him out and make him settle for a sidearm rip.  Hopefully you have a good goalie.  Defending Kyle Devitte on the internet is much harder, and I can’t believe I’m going to do it.

It’s not like Kyle Devitte needs to be defended.  The guy can certainly hold his own with the best of them, and will never back down from a good argument.  He says some outrageous stuff, the vast majority of which is just his honest truth, but in the end he definitely knows what he is talking about, and loves the sport of lacrosse.

He writes about the MLL better than anything else, and probably knows the league better than 99% of the people who talk about it regularly.  In his recent post on Inside Lacrosse, Devitte talks about the first week of the MLL, and gets into some of the differences between the NCAA and the MLL.  I actually don’t think he takes the difference far enough (we’ll get into that later), but it’s a gosh-darn solid piece, especially when you consider he’s covering a very small sports league.  Tip of the old scally cap.

But when you get to the comments, they just don’t measure up.  Here you have a great piece on PRO OUTDOOR LACROSSE, and the IL commenters just can’t seem to say anything nice.  The first is that he didn’t talk about the record-breaking attendance figures.  It’s fair, but there have been other articles on that.  So chill out, dude.  The second comment complains about a lack of info on who is in and who is out and why players like the Leveilles and Greers aren’t playing.  Devitte and the league are both focused on what IS, not what could have been.  Complaining already?  Jebus.

The next two comments talk about what a shame it is that Greer is playing in the LXM (why exactly is that a shame?) and that the NCAA needs a 60 second shot clock.  Neither are particularly awful, and neither were the first two, but they also don’t focus on the topic at hand… at all.  Devitte has done a good job of talking about a league that some purists overlook, and not one of the commenters can say something truly relevant?  Now THAT is a shame.

Now if I were to comment on IL’s post, the tack I would adopt would probably have focused on going further with the importance of differences in the MLL and NCAA.  His point about practices is especially poignant, but I feel like Kyle didn’t take it quite far enough.

HERE IS THE ISSUE: When college players are all practicing together 5 days a week, the playing field is even.  Every team in the country is putting in tens of hours per week working on their game plans and on their conditioning and skills.  The best players and the best teams are the ones that do the extra things, because everyone is doing the basics.  In the MLL, no team is even doing the basics.  One, maybe two, practices per week is not sufficient for my team of 5th and 6th graders.  It is certainly not enough for the Pros.

So, the MLL becomes less of a team game, and more of an individual game.  One sees it in all the dodging, transition play and heavy use of man to man defenses.  This is just natural, and not necessarily the worst thing in the world.  But it also opens a slightly different issue, and that is now PLAYERS are the key, and they are definitely on an uneven playing field.

rabil paul lacrosse cannons
Rabil is a true pro.

Let’s look at Paul Rabil and Chris Passavia, both of the Cannons.  Passavia gets brought up in Kyle Devitte’s piece as being on the practice squad now for the Cannons.  Rabil is full-time lax.  He practices 14 times a week, works out and always has a sitck in his hands.  He makes lax a priority, works his ass off, and can do so because he is the biggest name in the sport.  He trains like a professional athlete trains.  There are probably 6-10 guys in the world who can do this.

But there are a lot more guys out there who train a LOT, and play a LOT.  Some of them have just graduated, are still in great shape from college, and live with their parents.  Some are just super dedicated gym/training rats, who have no time outside of work and lax.  And some are just trying to maintain their athleticism, and rely on skill and experience more and more.  Rabil is in this first group, and because of work commitments, Passavia is probably in the last group mentioned.

Now, I’m not saying this is unfair to Chris Passavia.  He chose his life and career path, and I’m sure he’s more than happy with the deicision.  But it’s a little unfair to the game, because when PR99 is out there, he’s better prepared than everyone else, or at least he should be.  And it’s not the only reason Rabil is dominant.  He’s also an UNREAL player.  Remember when he was in college, and the playing field was level?  Yeah, he was a BEAST then too.

Kyle Devitte probably didn’t bring it up because he didn’t think it was a real issue right now.  And I don’t think this issue is a big one right now either.  But it’s interesting, and as more players start being able to train professionally (more than 6-10, think like 20-40), the issue will come to the forefront more, because some of these guys will be players you’ve never heard of before.  And that alone will spark the question and conversation much more.

I loved Kyle Devitte’s piece, I’m glad he’s writing about the MLL, and even though he doesn’t need it, I just couldn’t help but stick up for the guy.  Grow the PRO Game too!


  1. This is a great companion piece.  When the day finally comes that MLL teams can operate like real professional teams with 4+ practices per week and full time athletes, the league will truly explode.  At that point the real differences in the skill level between MLL and NCAA will become really apparent.  The pro game will gain a bit more respect from hardcore traditionalists/haters too.  This will happen before we get anywhere near paying NFL salaries.  Livable wages like MLS will help push the league to this more professional model.  Attendance numbers like this weekend’s will definitely help.
    Now if we could just get decent fan gear on a regular basis and at reasonable prices.  Sorry Nationals fans, the available gear still says “Toronto.”  But at least you have gear available online; the Rattlers have squat available through the league store.  What a shame…