College MCLA

Greenville 2013: Don’t Get Pissed, Just Fix It

DGP

I was fortunate enough to be invited down to Greenville, SC to be a color commentator this past week for the first two rounds of the 2013 MCLA Championships. I arrived in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday and immediately immersed myself amongst the other commentators, coaches, and everyone else affiliated with the MCLA. Several of the people I knew, several more I didn’t, and overall it was an incredible opportunity to be a part of.

As an MCLA product myself, I really appreciate the opportunities that the league has given me. I’ve been a player, coach, captain, treasurer, VP, team president, and at the end of the day I’ve been able to see many of the different facets of the MCLA, and what it takes to run a team and a league. I have never had the opportunity to go to Nationals though, so I was very excited to add another notch to the belt in being a commentator at the tournament.

When I wasn’t commentating (and even while I was), I tried to soak up every part of the experience that I could. How I would feel as a player, coach, fan, etc., and I was well aware of the criticism coming from the peanut gallery via Twitter and other social media outlets.

What it comes down to is this:

It’s easy to pick something apart when you can only see it at face value, or sometimes when you can’t see it at all. Knowing that a current MCLA coach at the tournament also had a few things to say caught my attention though, and really compelled me to share my own feelings on the tournament.

Below you will find my opinions on the tournament, and some responses to things that have been said about the league. Please read the entire article before jumping to any conclusions on what my feelings may be about the tourney or league. To give full disclosure, the MCLA is reimbursing me for my trip down to Greenville. In commentating, I was working for them, but in no way, shape, or form does that obligate me to defend the MCLA.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have heard me mention writing something about ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Future of the MCLA‘, but the more I read around online, the more I became frustrated with what was being said, and I decided to change my tune.

First let’s start with some questions that I have:

If you weren’t AT the tournament, or coaching a team involved in the tournament, why would you spend all week publicly chastising the league you are a part of?

What good does that do for the league?

How does that help promote the league, or encourage people to be a part of it?

As part of the media, we are absolutely responsible for shedding light on both the good and bad in the lacrosse world, but as MCLA proponents, and even more importantly, ambassadors of this sport, we are also responsible for helping to spur on growth in the league and offer our hand in making it a better experience for all of those involved – NOT to simply tear it down with every chance we get.

But the live-streaming was terrible!

There was only one game that was completely lost due to issues with the live-streaming. I was actually set to commentate that game it and let me say this: you didn’t miss much. Portions of 3-5 other games were lost as well due to bandwidth and tower sharing issues. I think the biggest issues with the live-streaming was during the very intense Chapman vs. Oregon 4 OT thriller when the stream went out in the 2nd OT, and then the issues during the semifinal game between CSU and BYU.

This absolutely stinks, there is no question about it, but to let this ruin the tournament for yourself is just plain old dumb. Live streams of games cut out all the time. That’s part of the fun when relying on the internet to broadcast a game. One of the D3 Playoff games cutout this past weekend, as did one of the MLL games. It happens at all levels, so why was there such a stink about the MCLA operation? Heck, I could even mention how the lights at the Super Bowl went out this past year. Things go wrong all the time.

At the WOU/SJU game that was not broadcast, we had a dad come up to us asking for updates throughout the game. He wasn’t mad, nor were the parents back home. They understood that things like that happen and were really out of the control of the MCLA at that point.

I’ve heard several people ask about why TLN didn’t get the bid and how crazy it was that they didn’t. Before I caught wind of this, I inquired about it myself as both Samir and Colin are former MCLA guys themselves and have been killing it on the live-streaming front. It is not my place to say why they weren’t chosen but I can assuredly say that after hearing more, I completely understand why the MCLA didn’t go that direction.

Well they could’ve just paid for the TV presence and not had to deal with this.

True, but how many people got the Fox Sports channels on their TV in the past years when they went that route? I sure didn’t. One of the phrases I heard stated several times by key MCLA’ers throughout the weekend was that, “the MCLA should own their own product.” In that, they mean press releases, scores, and coverage of the MCLA should be BY the MCLA and released on the MCLA website. The league is trying to grow and increase their offering to new teams, and not trying to compete at the NCAA level.

To further grow, it makes complete sense to offer coverage of the games to as many people as possible. As TLN has shown through their own coverage and growth, more and more people are tuning in to the web to find and watch live lacrosse. To offer up all 30 games on one website so everyone can tune in and watch was a great idea.

Did it work our perfectly? No. Did it ruin the event? Don’t make me laugh. That is ridiculous.

Not having an official MCLA Twitter at the event is inexcusable.

The other big issue everyone seemed to have with the tournament was the social media coverage. The MCLA twitter was quiet on day one, but after hearing all the people voice their frustration over it, the MCLA became very active with in-game updates and was actually double-timing it between fields two and three on the second day to keep tabs of both games and update those not able to watch the live stream.

The Twitter presence of the MCLA went from eight tweets on Monday to 80+ tweets on Tuesday and continued to post in-game updates as the week progressed. So the MCLA listened and stepped it up? Why harp on day one for the rest of the week, Twitterati?

Sirrine Stadium was a letdown.

It’s a field, in a stadium, so let’s call it a small victory. I watched all the semifinal games and both championships and not once did it look like the players were impacted by any of the “sand traps” on the field. I can’t help but think of something I tell my players all the time, worry about what you can control. Can the MCLA control whether or not Greenville keeps the field in top shape? Maybe? Odds are they can’t.

There was a lot of good at the tournament.

The player experience, the fan experience, the vendor village, help by those on-hand. All of these were very positive factors in the tournament.

This is a player’s league, and for the majority of the players there, it really sounded like everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves – no matter win or lose. As it is a player’s league, the MCLA should make their first priority to give the players the best experience possible. I felt they did a wonderful job at that. The fields were fantastic and had all the proper accommodations, there was no ‘off limits’ for teams and any players not playing a game were able to wander around and check out all the action. The vendor village in the center of the tournament was great and was heavily trafficked for the first two days.

The tournament experience as a whole for people in attendance was also great. I spoke with several parents and heard from several more, about how well the tournament was run and how much fun it was to watch. No one I heard from complained about their seating, the clocks, or anything of the sort. People really just enjoyed being able to watch great lacrosse for the entirety each day while in Greenville.

As the week progressed, in-game and post-game interviews were conducted, All-American honors were announced, and the players were able to gain some solid recognition for all of their hardwork and perseverance.

The future of the MCLA is bright.

The MCLA showed throughout the entirety of the tournament that they are listening and they want to better their offering to all the fans, players, and coaches of the league. As Paul Brown said, “You learn a line from a win, and a book from a defeat.”

Why pick a part every little thing that goes wrong with the tournament? Instead, why not celebrate the growth of the league in the Coast Guard Academy’s first trip to the national tournament? In Liberty’s semifinal appearance? In Colorado State’s undefeated season and back-to-back championship wins?

There was a lot of good at the MCLA Tournament this year. When people only focus on the negative of the league and pick apart every little thing they can find, they are doing a disservice to the league, everyone involved in it, and really the future of this sport with the MCLA.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for some good ole fashioned constructive criticism, but very rarely did I see any mention of a resolution or of someone trying to understand why these issues may have been occurring. The best part about all of these issues (yes, there is one), is that they were all preventable. Everyone involved can keep these in the front of their mind when planning for next year.

What I notice most though, is the MCLA’s reaction and response to all of these issues. They hear you, they’re listening, and it was clearly evident that changes were being made. I guarantee the MCLA enjoys having these issues hanging over their head as much as everyone else does having to experience them. I can’t help but think of something I tell my own players when something goes wrong on the field, don’t get pissed, just fix it.

About the author

Krieg Shaw

An Idaho Vandal through and through, Krieg Shaw played and coached in Moscow, Idaho and now resides in Boise helping grow the local lacrosse scene. Follow Krieg on Twitter and on Instagram.

15 Comments

  • Great article Krieg! I really like the insight of the MCLA tournament. As a player my favorite tournaments were the ones that I got to be in the action and part of the experience outside of playing and this seems like one of those. Every league has growing pains and you have to make mistakes to get better, look at the BCS tournament. They are doing a great job at focusing on promoting themselves first instead of some media corp. It is also great to see club teams from all over the country represented, it really shows the true growth of the sport. Thanks for LAS’ part in that.

  • zcw517, thank you very much for reading the full article and giving your feedback on it. It is very much appreciated.

    Great article Krieg!

  • My son happened to be playing in the tournament for the first time, so it was my first experience. I don’t know what all the negative feedback is about? I’ve been to the NCAA tournament three times and have never been so close to the action. My wife wasn’t able to attend with me but she was able to watch the live feeds from the MCLA site. She even said what great a job the commentators were doing. Either my expectations were to low or I was just to excited to see some great lacrosse games. Look..no matter what you do there’s always room for improvement… But I had a great time, saw some outstanding lacrosse games that I wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. Thanks to everyone involved with the tournament for all of your efforts! My son had a great experience as a player. I walked away as a father, fan, and spectator with some great memories. Honestly isn’t that what it’s all about.

  • Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    But I had a great time, saw some outstanding lacrosse games that I wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. […] My son had a great experience as a player. I walked away as a father, fan, and spectator with some great memories. Honestly isn’t that what it’s all about.

  • I can only assume this is a response to Peter Tumbas of Indiana and 412 lax complaining almost non stop all week. Must have been pretty bitter about blowing their chance to go to nationals against Purdue or else I bet we wouldn’t have heard as much from him had he ACTUALLY been there. Having been to nationals as a player in 2011, I had an excellent time and everything the MCLA did to run the event was great! Obviously SC is a bit different than Colorado but we can’t expect everything to be perfect and you’re article was an awesome way to promote a positive image for the MCLA. Glad some people understand that the MCLA is a club/players league and in no way come close to the funding/resources of the NCAA.

  • Kreig,

    I read the entirety of your article. I’ve been one of the people complaining a bit on the forums here in regards to how it was handled. Here are some reasons that I feel that the problems brought to light need to be addressed and not ignored.

    I attended the 2010 tournament in Denver as a player. I then had the privilege of attending in 2013 as a Coach.

    This whole approach of super-positivity about everything doesn’t do anything to address the problems that were fundamentally there this year with the tournament organizers.

    “But the live-streaming was terrible!”

    Yes, yes it was. As Will Patton said, let’s call a spade a spade. It was crap. 1/4 feeds were lost in the D2 first round games, and the feed crashed during a pivotal moment in the best D1 first round game. The feed crashed during the D2 Final with 45 seconds to go in the game. The feed crashed during the D1 Semi-final several times. I tuned in late to one of the games because i was at work, and i had to decipher who was up and by how much because the graphics were so pixellated it was illegible. I didn’t even know that that logo on the top right was for Adrenaline. The camera used for the main action in Sirrine was terrible, you could barely see what was going on, who had the ball, when it moved, etc. On field cameras at Sirrine were much better and clearer. There weren’t any post-game interviews the 1st day at all!

    The reason that it’s frustrating and deserves condemnation from Media, Players, and Coaches is because it’s clearly a step back from where the tournament was in 2010, 2011, and 2012. I’ve tuned in every year, and the streams have been very clear to see the action, and I can’t recall feeds being lost regularly for entire games. Pre and Postgame interviews have been promptly conducted and were extremely professional. The tournament was in the same place as last year when everything went off without a hitch! To me, that reeks of 1 of 2 things – a very poor choice in sub-contracting streaming services, or general mediocrity by tournament directors and staff. Either way, it’s not right. And to blow it off as no big deal does a disservice to all the 220-some teams who paid dues, and the 32 teams who flew further to Greenville at a greater cost to themselves to save the MCLA a substantial amount of money. The product was much better at Denver in 2010 and 2011, and it was much better at the exact same location in 2012.

    Did it ruin the tournament? Certainly not. Is it excusable? No.

    I Agree on not paying for TV presence, that was a good move by tournament staff. It was always and has been a waste of money to pay to get onto a network that requires the most expensive cable/satellite packages to get.

    The reason the lack of twitter presence is frustrating is because it’s a free resource! It doesn’t cost anything to have 4 smartphones logged into the official MCLA twitter account updating scores at each field, and it barely takes up any bandwidth. One can update twitter on 2G or Single G data coverage pretty easily. And the feud between the MCLA.us twitter and the “unofficial” MCLA_Champs twitter once again made it look like amateur hour. Is this the product we’re trying to get people excited about and promote? Then it has to be better and more professional.

    I applaud the work the MCLA_Champs twitter did from Day 2 onward – it was a lot better and it was nice to stay updated on multiple games. It should have been like that from Day 1 and the MCLA.us twitter needs to be a heck of a lot more engaged and professional regarding communication.

    I think the twitter accounts need to be consolidated and AO needs to relinquish his stranglehold on the main account so that it can actually be useful other than auto-tweeting website articles that are posted by member teams. There’s a solution instead of just a complaint.

    Sirrine was a letdown in the field quality, but i think i only saw the sandtrap come into play one time during any of the semifinals. It’s a bit unfortunate, but to me, it really didn’t do anything to the quality of the product being promoted. The fields at the soccer park were absolutely pristine. Very thankful for no rain as well.

    Yes, the players and teams there had some fantastic accomplishments this year. These should be celebrated, absolutely. But that has nothing to do with how the MCLA administrated certain services at the tournament. I cede this one to Alex Smith: “Players, coaches and officials are held to the highest standards in national tourney. So too should MCLA leaders and organizers.” I applaud all the teams who made it and made for an excellent weekend of lacrosse in both divisions. Do i wish certain services were better? Absolutely. Is it reasonable to bring these things to light? In my mind, and with my and my parents past tournament experience as a guide, absolutely.

    I also applaud MCLA administrations response to the complaints voiced. Gary Podesta was very forthright with me on another forum, that he will be studying the tournament’s administration in-depth and issuing a report to CD’s regarding the successes, issues, and resolutions. It is great to see that the league is concerned and that they are listening. I’m very thankful that it seems most in their leadership positions do care about the direction and professional image of the MCLA.

    All in all, i understand the point of this article – there were many great things about the tournament. But to not address the negatives and bring them to light to be improved upon doesn’t make much sense to me either.

  • Great article.

    As someone who has covered several live athletic events; I know how helpless you can feel when you put time and effort into a product but people choose to constantly complain on social media about things that are completely out of your/their control.

    Anyone who has worked on or with a webcast knows exactly how hard it is to produce. So many things need to happen for it to be flawless and, as we are all human, mistakes can be made and things can go wrong. People who spent the day complaining failed to remember that the webcasts were generously being offered for free (something the MCLA could have tried to make a profit on).

    As the St. John’s University (MN) Communications Director, I will fully admit that I was annoyed with the lack of webcast for the first game. With that being said, we made things work. We worked hard to keep our fans updated via Twitter (https://twitter.com/sjulax or @sjulax) and the parents stayed in contact via email throughout the game. While some team’s Twitter accounts were publicly complaining (unprofessional in my opinion) about the lack of webcast, we understood issues can arise and the most important thing was keeping our followers and fans updated on the score.

    There are two approaches you can take — sit around and complain or make the most of what you have and move on.

    With all that being said, I do have to agree with some of the complaints.

    It seems as though year after year there are the same webstreaming issues: video and/or audio cutting out, bandwidth issues, etc. The MCLA hasn’t seemed to learn from past mistakes and that is why I think the complaints have gone up. Should the MCLA keep the webcasting in-house? If they want to, they absolutely should. But not at the expense of efficiency. If it costs a little bit of money to get a professional production team and reduces the risk of issues, it may be worth it moving forward. Shrugging off the webcasting issues and saying “you didn’t miss much” shouldn’t be acceptable if the MCLA wants to become a respected league. The MCLA needs to take more pride in their product.

    In my opinion, the lack of Twitter usage by the MCLA was inexcusable. For the first day, pretty much every team had their account live-Tweeting the games but the MCLA accounts were silent. The MCLA may want to look into an intern or four to be at the tournament next year updating the Twitter accounts — live-tweeting the games, posting final scores, taking photos to bring the tournament to the followers, sharing interviews (quotes and/or video), etc. While the response to the complaints was relatively immediate, the fact that it was overlooked is shocking.

    So instead of complaining, I will offer my suggestions for next year.

    It would be nice to see live stats on the website. Scores were updated fairly quick after a game but for people not able to access the live stream, live stats would keep followers posted.

    As mentioned above, have interns ready to Tweet from the MCLA account. Have them properly trained so the Tweets are timely, informative and professional.

    Look into what can be done to improve the live webstreams and have the MCLA can no longer accept a “ho-hum” approach if issues arise. For announcers who had issues with names, talk to a coach before the game to go over pronunciations. Additionally, coaches could also submit a pronunciation guide with the rosters and information they send over at the beginning of the tournament.

    It sounds as though the MCLA is willing to work on the issues. I think it would be beneficial to have a forum for all coaches and administrators who were in Greenville to go over the issues and try to come up with a standard for National Tournaments moving forward.

    As a former player and now administrator at St. John’s, I’m a huge fan of the MCLA and want to see it be extremely successful.

    Mike Murakami
    St. John’s University Lacrosse – Communications Director
    http://www.sjulacrosse.com/
    https://twitter.com/sjulax
    https://twitter.com/MichaelMurakami

  • This whole approach of super-positivity about everything doesn’t do anything to address the problems that were fundamentally there this year with the tournament organizers.

    I wouldn’t describe my tone as super positive at all. There definitely WERE problems, both because of sub-contracting (live streaming), as well as just internally (general stuff). I felt I touched on that, but just wanted to take a different look at it since several other media outlets went out of their way to exclusively shine light on the bad parts of the tournament.

    I think even more than what was good or bad, was the quick response by the MCLA to try and fix stuff. There are definitely a lot of CD’s hard at work who are listening and working to make changes in the MCLA.

    Btw, what was the feud between the two MCLA twitters? I know AO usually runs @The_MCLA, but MCLA people were running @MCLA_Champs throughout the week.

    Thanks for adding to the conversation, I really appreciate you taking the time to read the full article.

  • There are two approaches you can take — sit around and complain or make the most of what you have and move on.

    YES! I love it.

    So instead of complaining, I will offer my suggestions for next year.

    It would be nice to see live stats on the website. Scores were updated fairly quick after a game but for people not able to access the live stream, live stats would keep followers posted.

    As mentioned above, have interns ready to Tweet from the MCLA account. Have them properly trained so the Tweets are timely, informative and professional.

    Look into what can be done to improve the live webstreams and have the MCLA can no longer accept a “ho-hum” approach if issues arise. For announcers who had issues with names, talk to a coach before the game to go over pronunciations. Additionally, coaches could also submit a pronunciation guide with the rosters and information they send over at the beginning of the tournament.

    It sounds as though the MCLA is willing to work on the issues. I think it would be beneficial to have a forum for all coaches and administrators who were in Greenville to go over the issues and try to come up with a standard for National Tournaments moving forward.

    Interns! You hit the nail on the head. I actually had that mentioned to me by several MCLA Conference Director’s at the tournament as an easy way to fix stuff. That would be such an easy way to fix a lot of the twitter, live stats issues, and even add the possibility of a live MCLA blog on their own site.

    Thank you for reading the full article and adding your voice to the conversation, very much appreciated!

  • Glad some people understand that the MCLA is a club/players league and in no way come close to the funding/resources of the NCAA.

    That is definitely one of the big things I think a lot of people tend to forget given how big the league has become. Growing pains!

  • Btw, what was the feud between the two MCLA twitters? I know AO usually runs @The_MCLA, but MCLA people were running @MCLA_Champs throughout the week.

    Thanks for adding to the conversation, I really appreciate you taking the time to read the full article.

    It was some snarky response to 412’s tweets about the fact that @MCLA_Champs twitter hadn’t been updated in 8 hours. It’s since been deleted by @The_MCLA , but it had something to do with how @MCLA_Champs isn’t the “official” MCLA twitter account (congratulations, so AO’s saying his official account is more useless than the one actually doing any tweeting of updates). @MCLA_Champs made jest about the comment in the middle of one of the final 4 games… think it was one of D2 semi’s.

    Not that big of a deal but it was just unprofessional and once again painted the MCLA as fragmented and not on the same page.

  • Interns! You hit the nail on the head. I actually had that mentioned to me by several MCLA Conference Director’s at the tournament as an easy way to fix stuff. That would be such an easy way to fix a lot of the twitter, live stats issues, and even add the possibility of a live MCLA blog on their own site.

    Thank you for reading the full article and adding your voice to the conversation, very much appreciated!

    Happy to — great article with some solid points.

    It would be great for the MCLA to offer Communications students in Greenville (or wherever the tournament may be down the road) the chance to gain some experience and/or college credit. Bring them in for an orientation on what to do and make a uniformed way to report goals, final scores, etc. on Twitter.

    I currently work in a collegiate Athletics Department and I know for both Conference and NCAA Tournaments, a Sports Information Director is required to travel with the team. Obviously the MCLA is not the NCAA in terms of funding — or even teams having an SID — but it would be great to see the MCLA provide teams the resources and funding (if available) to have someone travel with them to update the team’s Twitter accounts (letting the coaches focus on the games and keeping in mind that not all teams have managers) as well as help out MCLA personnel/administrators when it comes down to the team.

    For the past couple of years, I have been unable to travel with St. John’s to Nationals but thanks to some parents on-site and the live streams (including this year’s) I have been able to update Twitter as well as our website. I’m hoping to make it next year!

    From the sounds of it, the MCLA is going to try and make this a better production and I certainly hope they do. If done correctly, it can be a great marketing tool for team sponsors in addition to being a powerful recruiting tool. If the goal is to grow the game and the league, it has to start with the National Tournament. If MCLA administrators and directors continue to neglect the pressing issues in making it as professional as possible, that will only hurt the game and league. I agree with what I’ve seen on here: players have to pay relatively expensive dues to play the sport they love. The MCLA owes a professional and prestigious production to those players who pay and put in the work to make it to Nationals. It sounds as though the on-site experience is top notch; the online production (webcasting, live stats, Twitter, photos, etc.) shouldn’t be any different. I know players take pride in playing for the MCLA and in many ways are held to the standards of NCAA athletes. I know the MCLA administrators take pride as well but hopefully they know there are plenty of people around the league who would love to help out with the tournament.

    Mike Murakami
    St. John’s University Lacrosse – Communications Director
    http://www.sjulacrosse.com/
    https://twitter.com/sjulax
    https://twitter.com/MichaelMurakami

  • It was some snarky response to 412’s tweets about the fact that @MCLA_Champs twitter hadn’t been updated in 8 hours. It’s since been deleted by @The_MCLA , but it had something to do with how @MCLA_Champs isn’t the “official” MCLA twitter account (congratulations, so AO’s saying his official account is more useless than the one actually doing any tweeting of updates). @MCLA_Champs made jest about the comment in the middle of one of the final 4 games… think it was one of D2 semi’s.

    Not that big of a deal but it was just unprofessional and once again painted the MCLA as fragmented and not on the same page.

    Yikes… I remember the mentions now. There is definitely some internal fixes needed there, can’t be doing that to the ones making the effort to get the updates out.

  • Glad some people understand that the MCLA is a club/players league and in no way come close to the funding/resources of the NCAA.

    That is definitely one of the big things I think a lot of people tend to forget given how big the league has become. Growing pains!

    I also wonder how organized and nicely run other collegiate club sports are. I don’t know about them but I’d have to say that having an incredible website and app with up to date scores/stats is above and behind what other clubs sport leagues have. Let alone even having the opportunity to have every tournament game streamed online regardless of if the feed cut out or not is probably leaps and bounds better. We MCLAers are a wee bit spoiled.

  • The only other one i can point to is USA Rugby, D1A Rugby and the NSCRO – they’re pretty on par with each other. I know the NSCRO Sevens championships are being played on NBC Sports at PPL Park in Philly this year because GCC has a team in the hunt. They regularly show the D1A Sevens and Union Championships on NBC Sports – I’m pretty sure Cal Rugby has an exclusive TV deal similar to ND Football. D1A Rugby is very big time, over what the MCLA currently does even at the D1 level.

    Club Volleyball and the NCVF are getting there as well, maybe not the same level as Rugby and Lacrosse, but it’s growing as well.

    Rugby and Lacrosse do seem to be separated from the pack in regards to organization, professional communication, and level of competition… but i don’t think that that should stop any organization from trying to be better. If you build it, they will come!

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