No Room For Music In The NLL

Titans NLL game
I don’t see room for music anywhere.

I am happy to introduce to LAS readers two of the most creative and funny lacrosse guys I have had the pleasure of playing with over my career. Both Jeff and Matt will be contributing to LAS as we move forward with more box lacrosse coverage here so stay tuned for a box lacrosse blogging Renaissance.  Both guys have played in the WLA with the Burnaby Lakers, and both graduated from SFU. Each however, will provide a unique opinion and perspective on box lacrosse, and the state of the game in Canada.  Mathy (Jeff) will be lending his quick-witted voice to weekly NLL Previews and Reviews, while Brascia (Matt) will be contributing unique video content, like the already popular “John ‘Stumpy’ Eneways” video.

Our first trifecta conversation?  Music being played during NLL games.  Oh no.

Jeff Matheson (@jeffreymath– LOSE THE TUNES

The National Lacrosse League has made a lot of questionable decisions, and the loudest of the mistakes has to be the presence of music during game play.  The only theory I have been able to come up explaining this embarrassment is that the founding fathers of the NLL were in the elevator business.

Elevator music compensates for how genuinely dull the experience of riding an elevator is.  Therefore having music playing during the game tells the fans: our product is not entertaining enough by itself.  That is not exactly the message that a league struggling for fans should be conveying.

Take some free advice NLL, the sounds of a good hard slash, a ball ringing off the post, or an incensed coach’s loose use of the English language are far more entertaining than Nickelback.  Lose the music and let the sounds of the game compliment the speed and talent.

You’re welcome.

Matt Brascia (@mattbrascia) – The National Lacrosse League: Music during games

I hate how the National Lacrosse League has made it standard practice to play music in the background during games. For those of you unfamiliar with professional box lacrosse, a quick visit to YouTube should provide for a quick tutorial. The fact that professional box lacrosse is a relatively new sport in the conglomerate of professional sports seen around the world, people need to learn how the game works in order for them to enjoy its full potential. What does not help, is a playlist of music going on while fans and players are trying to focus on game play.

I have worked as the music jockey for some high profile lacrosse games and implemented the same principles used in hockey games; associate a song’s emotion with the emotion of the current situation in the game as to keep the crowd in tune, but once play is underway let the focus be entirely on the game itself. It seems that the NLL is so concerned with fans being less than entertained by a game considered by many as one of the best spectator sports in the world, they thought an atmosphere familiar to a waiting room would be the best way to insure the ticket-buyer is getting the best value for their patronage.

Music during the play of professional lacrosse only cheapens the experience for fans and provides a further obstacle to people learning the first game that united Canada in sport. The easier a sport is to focus on, the easier it is to learn; the more known about a sport, the more the little nuances become valued and therefore the mechanics of the game become that much more appreciated. The NLL needs to stop worrying about its fan’s possible lack of amusement and let the game itself become the unquestioned epicenter for their entertainment without the bells and whistles. Obviously, professional sports are about drawing fans and making money, and one cannot do that without providing the most entertainment possible. However, when professional entertainers – because in the end, that is what all professional sporting entities are – cheapen their showcase performance by diluting it with anything they think will appease their audience, that same audience begins to lose respect for the very “sport” they have come to the arena to enjoy.

Keeping his head up and music down!

Original Toronto Rock Logo - CN Tower rocking out! Toronto Rock'n'Roll
Original Toronto Rock Logo – CN Tower rocking out! Toronto Rock’n’Roll

Chris Fox (@Fox_Chris) – The Rationale

I think it all started with the Toronto Rock. The Rock nickname first represented “Rock’n’Roll” as the franchise had an in-house live band playing during the game. During their first year in the NLL the Toronto Rock saw huge success, both on the floor winning a Championship, and in the ticket office. The Rock sold out historic Maple Leaf Gardens night in and night out. Consequently, franchises around the league tried to mimic the Rock’s success.

The next season fans began to hear music pumped into arenas throughout the league in an attempt to reproduce the Rock’s sell-out crowds. However, the Rock’s crowds were not attributed to the rock bands jamming during the games. The Rock were successful and winners right out of the gate.

So, prior to that 1999 season what could have inspired the Toronto Rock franchise to take the road down a loud and boisterous road?  Walk into any arena during the summer months in Canada and you are sure to hear echos of crowds, yelling coaches and players, balls bouncing off the boards and ringing of the nets, and the squeaking of basketball shoes on a hard cement floor. That hard cement floor provides the foundation for the sweet sounds of summer and amplifies noise throughout arenas across the country. Magnificently enough, the historic wooden floor of Queens Park in New Westminster BC, and now the new wooden floor at Bill Copeland Arena in Burnaby BC provide an even more angelic sound for spectators.

Walk into the Langley Event Center in Langley BC, host of the 2011 Mann Cup, and you will notice a startling difference. First you will notice that Langley is the only team in the Western Lacrosse Association that has turf.  Then, you will quickly notice how depressingly quiet the arena is during game play. I have played in the LEC in Langley before it had turf and after, and the silence doesn’t have to do with the size of the arena, or lack of spectators.  Turf absorbs noise and kills the atmosphere of any lacrosse games.  I attended the 2011 Mann Cup, and I also attended the 2009 Mann Cup at Queens Park.  The turf this past summer made gaps of action lower and depressing, while the wood in ’09 echoed the excitement in the air and created a consistent buzz of emotion.

Unfortunately for NLL fans, no matter what the Toronto Rock did in the area that magical 1999 season, the rest of the NLL would have been desperate to follow.

Pass on the Fake Grass.


  1. If any of our friend south of the 49th have any questions regarding verbiage, terminology, or need a Canadian to American translation, I am always here for assistance. Mathy, Brascia, and I kept it pretty Webster on this one, but I can assure you our ‘Bob and Doug McKenzie’ sides will shine through soon enough.

  2. My main beef with music during gameplay has been for two reasons: 1) they play the same 3 songs over and over and over and over and over, and 2) they cut them off as soon as there’s a whistle, creating a weird start-stop to the musical background.

    However, I don’t really have a problem with the music, in that there are other things I’d rather change about the fan experience at games before I bothered with the music.  #1 (in general) is the rug.  It is a deadener, both for noise and for ball bounce action.