Illuminating Stick Heads for MLL Games on ESPN – Good or Bad?


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ILLUMINATING STICK HEADS – Good idea or bad idea? Would this entice more people to watch the MLL on TV?

Current results...



  1. I voted good idea because I’m a fan of creativity.

    I don’t think it will help the game’s cause with serious sports fans. It sounds like a total gimmick, and I would get a good laugh out of it if it wasn’t a waste of money. I like Connor’s idea of the overhead cameras, but I doubt that’s even possible in the small-scale venues.

    • Same. In my opinion, there are a few ways to implement this correctly, and there are many ways to do it wrong. With ESPN’s guidance, I think what some people are calling a “gimmick” could actually have curb appeal without frustrating hardcore fans. I’m really interested to hear more about it.

    • Same. In my opinion, there are a few ways to implement this correctly,
      and there are many ways to do it wrong. With ESPN’s guidance, I think
      what some people are calling a “gimmick” could actually have curb appeal
      without frustrating hardcore fans. I’m really interested to hear more
      about it.

  2. There’s always two sides to something like this. It can go both ways. Too distracting in my opinion though. It would look cool (if it was done right), but I feel like it may take away from part of the excitement of the game. It would make things as simple as fake passes less exciting. Even though some aren’t done that well, you can’t help but feel somewhat excited when the unexpected happens. There are just those small aspects of the game where not knowing exactly who has the ball makes for an exciting moment in the game.

  3. I think they should do what hockey did a while back and highlight the lacrosse ball instead…it will look better on shoots and saves…I also think they should mic up players more…the world of lax is growing in the right direction but they’re just a few more advancements we need to really blow the sport up some more

    • Totally agree on micing players or even coaches up more often. The only problem – and this goes for doing it in any sport – is their use of language. It’s pretty easy to get past that by tape delaying things or simply cutting footage up for a quick feature to show during halftime. Good call.

  4. The biggest, mots effective “quick fix” to get people into the MLL would be to have a big, loud, personality as an owner.  Mark Cuban is the obvious parallel, but it’s also true for the ones you love to hate like Steinbrenner or Al Davis.  This isn’t a practical solution, especially when someone like Jake is running the league. 

    More practical solutions would include 1) stop multi-subs on every freaking play. These specialty positions are chewing up half the shot clock and casual players can’t keep track of positions when you bring people in and out constantly.  It’s like MLL is trying to invent the middle reliever and pinch-runner positions 6 times per team. 2) closer camera angles.  I hate full-field shots.  I presume the directors are coming over from soccer experience but aren’t taking into account that the ball is comparatively tiny.  

    Getting into more gimmicky solutions: 3) I’d like to see force measurements on certain player’s pads/sticks.  Who wouldn’t want to know how hard (as opposed how fast) that shot was when it hits the goalie’s chest pad?  How hard was that stick-on-stick check?  Sure, maybe they’ll show the bent pole later, but if we can get a comparison (e.g. that check had the same amount of force as a hand grenade at 10 feet), then I’d bet more people would be into it.

    • Great perspective.

      Re: Owner – What if they let Body By Jake talk more and showed his play by play reactions? Would that suffice your appetite for owner entertainment? I’m convinced Jake should have his own reality show.

      Re: Practical solutions – This is dead on IMO. I actually think multi-subs is killing new player retention at the high school level. As for camera angles, I’ve always thought they should have basketball cameramen do lacrosse games – what would you think of that?

      Re: Gimmicky solutions – This made our new on increasing exposure on tv!

    • Far beyond getting a bigger personality for the league is just getting some commercials on TV and getting games on a real network.  The NFL isn’t popular because of Jerry Jones or Roger Goodell- a major reason that it’s so accessible is how predictable it is.  It doesn’t matter what the teams are, I know there will always be a game on Sundays at 1 and 4 and on Monday nights.

      I was talking to a bunch of guys on my old man softball team about the MLL finals.  These are guys who have coached youth lacrosse for the last few years, have multiple kids playing lacrosse and who have been to a few Cannons games over the past few seasons.  Most of them had no idea that the game was on.  That’s a huge problem.  Championship weekend should be a BIG DEAL, but it ended up playing second fiddle to high school football (which was showing on ESPN) and went completely unadvertised.

      New people aren’t going to seek out the games.  The MLL has to build an audience through regularity and repetition.  The league needs to make sure that there’s a game on ESPN every Saturday night during the regular season.  This single act will do far more for the league than any technological change or ownership shenanigans.

      Regarding cameras… Although I think your heart is in the right place when it comes to closer camera angles, I think the reality of how quickly the ball moves makes this a non-starter.  Basketball and Hockey are played on much smaller fields of play, so even though you’ve got a lot of motion, you’re free to zoom in because the size of field allows it.

      Regarding the rules…  I, too, am not a fan of the amount of specialization that is commonplace in lacrosse these days.  It’s hard to have a guy like Paul Rabil be the pillar that you build the league around when he’s only on the field half of the game. That said, I’d say this falls into the realm of small potatoes.  I don’t think the problem is that people are tuning in and giving up because they don’t understand what’s going on.  The core issue is that people aren’t tuning in- that’s addressed above.

      • Maybe someone has done some focus groups on this, but is following the ball really holding back people from following the game?  Generally, the person with the ball is cradling and the defense is all over him.  I just don’t think people stop at a lacrosse game and say “I can’t tell who has the ball.” and change the channel.  
        You know what this game needs, people who can do better play by play for lacrosse. (this ties in with Wilson’s post on QK which I plan to comment on)  I think hockey is a good example, the announcer should just explain what is happening on the field, it will make it easier for the casual fan to understand the game.  

        • Re: your first comment – I think you are right to a certain extent. When the game is in action it’s not difficult to tell who has the ball and most sports fans *shouldn’t* have any trouble spotting the carrier. That said, IMO there are specific instances in which it is difficult (especially in full-field camera view): A) After a timeout or dead ball B) Quick whistles C) Faceoffs/GB scrums. Now, I’m not saying it’s impossible to spot the ball carrier (that’d be nonsense), I’m just saying it can be tough for my friend Joe from New Mexico who’s never seen the sport on TV before.

          Re: Announcers – I personally think you are dead on. Announcers should focus on accurately explaining what’s going on and leave conversations about lacrosse politics and rule changes for off-camera discussion. Those conversations are not productive at all and do our sport no justice. Whomever the color commentator is should push his energy toward talking about players, their off-field day job, their weapon of choice, etc. etc. I don’t get to hear enough about that kind of stuff and neither do the kids watching at home.

          Anyway, I’ll stop blabbering now. Great discussion all around!!

  5. I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach.  We can’t judge this product until we see it executed, well or poorly at that.

    I personally feel no sport is helped more by HD than lacrosse.  The wide angle aspect ratio and higher clarity provides an overview of the field of play and access to seeing (and identifying correctly) the ball handler at all times with the goal in view.  Though it isn’t perfect.

    Other sports, like football, baseball, and basketball, not only have more visible balls but benefit from decades upon decades of production experience around the presentation of the game on network and cable television.  Much of that has translated to an enhance experience in HD, but not the amazing shift in watchability that lacrosse has enjoyed. 

    As many have alluded to, we are thinking about elements like stick illumination to aid the casual fan, not the hardcore fan.  Parents, channel-flippers, etc. will not make “walk-up” visits to lacrosse television in most instances.  If the stick illumination changes that, then huzzah!