Yesterday’s Johns Hopkins Vs Ohio State game was the first college lacrosse game of the year to be broadcast on national TV (ESPNU), and it quickly showed just how important playing games on TV has become in the modern world. From way-too-early-hype to converting new fans, lacrosse on TV is a difference maker for our sport. (Check out our homepage for a Lacrosse on TV calendar!)
Hop – OSU Photo Credit: Brian Schneider
Early Tewaaraton Fanaticism
Early on, people were all about players like Lyle Thompson and Jordan Wolfe to win the Tewaaraton Award, but now that the season has kicked off, opinions are changing. Since it’s an award given out for actual accomplishments, this makes sense. I pushed for Wells Stanwick to be a candidate during the Hop game (1 goal and 5 assists) and I loved seeing how much success Hop had when they operated offensively through the Junior attackman. Seeing Wells in action only helped cement my belief that he could win it. Thank you TV.
Others saw Jesse King as the new clear favorite, especially with his 5 goals and 1 assist effort on the day, and even tried to get the hashtag #JesseKing4Tewaaraton going. Without the game being on TV, people don’t see just how much of the OSU offense flows through King, do they? Do they still make the same vehement Tewaaraton push with just the stats?
Here are some examples that say TV exposure is VERY important towards an external Tewaaraton push: Wesley Berg had five goals for Denver, and I didn’t see the hashtag pop up for him. James Pannell has 8 goals (on only 15 shots) and 2 assists in two games. He scored the game tying goal in BOTH games, got the assist for the win over Loyola, and scored the game winner over Richmond. Does he not deserve consideration as well? Shane Sturgis put up six goals for Penn State in a big win over Michigan. Maybe it’s his year?
UVA – Loyola Photo Credit: Craig Chase
On the flip side, televised games also show just how hard it is for a defensive player to ever win this award. For me, Mike Pellegrino put on an absolute show on Sunday. His stats weren’t absurd (1 goal, 2 shots, 3 GBs, 1 caused turnover, 2 penalties), but his hustle definitely was. Did Jesse King have a HUGE day? He sure did, but was Pellegrino covering him during his goals? Nope, not really. In fact, at the end of regulation when King dodged on Pellegrino, Hop forced a turnover.
So does King’s huge day from the midfield knock Pellegrino off the Tewaaraton list? If you’re reading a box score, it probably does, but not if you watched the game! Pellegrino was huge for Hop, and he trucked a number of OSU players throughout the game. That doesn’t show up on the stats though, does it? And there are a number of other D1 guys across the country who did similar things… chances are you won’t ever know about them or their performances, because you don’t get to see them play.
So when you see someone dominate on TV, get excited! But don’t say they should win the Tewaaraton based off of that. There is a lot of college lacrosse still to come, and plenty of guys we haven’t seen play yet! Watch the TV games, go to games in person, and watch the webcasts… and good luck picking a player of the year! We’re going to need it… plenty of talent in 2014.
If you followed the #ESPNUlax hashtag, you probably saw a couple tweets from people who were either “bored” or had “randomly turned a lacrosse game on,” and were in turn impressed. In the past, we were treated to early games like Hop vs Siena… and those weren’t winning over fans. The games were slow, cautious, and no one outside of lacrosse knew either school. Hop vs OSU, on the other hand, has the potential to draw in “sports fans,” and when we get a tight triple OT game, it only gets better. I guarantee lacrosse converted a couple new fans yesterday with a great televised game.
Making sure competitive teams (with at least one of the schools being well known) play in televised games is a key for growth and general popularity of the sport. The quality of the sport shines through, even in the early going of the season.
I turned on a lax game out of boredom, and it’s currently in 2OT and one of the most exciting games ive ever watched in any sport #espnulax
— Ian Marshall (@IanPMarshall) February 9, 2014
— G. B. (@2gofar) February 9, 2014
— John C. Neal (@BanjoPolk) February 9, 2014
Yup, it’s working!
We All Get Better
Are you a big midfielder looking to QB your high school’s offense this year? Watch Jesse King. Are you an X attackman? Watch Wells Stanwick. Maybe you play LSM? Watch Pellegrino and guys like Dom Imbordino from OSU. Want to dominate on face offs? Check out Drew Kennedy. Each game on TV gives players out there the chance to watch ONE guy for an entire game. It’s not just highlights, and you get to see what they do all over the field.
Lacrosse on TV provides an excellent opportunity to get better just by watching. But you can also get better by listening! Maybe you don’t love Quint, Carc, or Eamon. I don’t really care. Listen to what they have to say, take everything with a grain of salt, and learn the game from some of the best to ever play. Don’t worry about how “correct” the announcers are, just think about what they are saying. Get intellectual with it, challenge yourself and your assumptions about the game, and don’t plateau. Maybe these guys can actually help you get better? Don’t count them out! Personally, I think they provide a wealth of knowledge and interesting opinion.
It Is Fun
Who doesn’t like watching Lacrosse on TV? I’m sure there are some people out there who can’t stand it, but I love it. The sport gets exposure, we can talk about what we saw for a full week or more, and aspiring players can improve by watching. At the end of the day, all that is great, and only adds to the fact that Lacrosse on TV is just plain old fun. Here’s to another great season!