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Team Maverik Joins LXM Pro – What Does This Mean?

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If you’re like me, you read a press release last night about Maverik Lacrosse joining up with the LXM Pro. Here’s the gist: Maverik has signed on to sponsor one of the teams, called Maverik United, which will be replacing Team Solé for 2013-14, and facing off against Team STX, at each LXM PRO event.

Ok, that was really easy reporting, and I summed up the press release, and the fact that it had been released, in exactly two sentences. Aren’t you glad we’re not a copy and paste source? Me too.

Now let’s get to the interesting stuff, and start asking and answering some of the questions we know are being thrown around in people’s brains!

Which Maverik Guys Will Go LXM?

When STX stepped in to the LXM, they brought over some of their athletes to the venture. Kyle Harrison made the switch, and got involved at a high level in the LXM, but other guys like Brendan Mundorf stuck with the MLL, and were eventually dropped as sponsored athletes. At the very least, he no longer shows up as an STX athlete.

Now, when you look at STX’s athlete page, it’s only Kyle, Sam Bradman, Max Ritz, and Matt Russell. All of the are LXM players for Team STX. Gone are guys like Mundorf, Steven Brooks, Brett Hughes, and Joe Walters. I’m willing to bet that STX adds to this crew from their LXM team, as they have done already with Bradman and Ritz. Brattons? Graham Gill? Brendan Porter? Who knows?

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Maverik is a little different, simply because they have a much larger player pool right now. Here is a list of athletes that currently show up as sponsored players on Mav’s homepage: Billy Bitter, CJ Costabile, Chris Bocklet, Jovan Miller, Peet Poillon, Chris Eck, Joe Cinosky, Drew Adams, Kyle Sweeney, Johnny Christmas, Kip Turner, Brian Karalunas, and Dan Hardy.

Christmas currently plays in the LXM PRO, but outside of that, most of the other guys are hardcore MLLers. Bitter is a face of the league right now, but the press release does mention that he will be joining Maverik in the LXM next year. So that’s something.

But will other guys make the move as well? Costabile is a rising star in the MLL. Bocklet is Mav’s poster boy right now. Miller is a huge draw for kids. Drew Adams might be the best MLL keeper right now. Karalunas is a stud for New York… will any of them jump ship and join up with the LXM PRO, like Bitter is going to do?

I can’t say with any definitive clarity, that yes, some of these guys will leave the MLL, but it’s hard to think that at least couple of them won’t. What is more valuable to Maverik? Photos of Jovan Miller decked out in Warrior gear playing in the MLL? Or a photo of Jovan playing in the LXM with Maverik across his chest? To me, the decision there is pretty clear.

What I find most interesting is that no one is really talking about it. The Press Release ends with this sentence:

Be on the lookout for some big announcements regarding the signing of more influential top professional players who truly want to play and serve the game the right way.

No other media source did anything with that. Really? Ok then, let’s move on.

How Will MLL Players React?

Not well.

Maybe that’s not fair, as only one or two guys have even responded to the announcement… but at the same time, the few reactions I have seen so far have not been super positive. Brian Spallina’s comment summed it up pretty nicely:Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 8.09.08 AM

Spallina’s comment is most likely in response to this non-sequitor line in the press release:

LXM PRO is professional lacrosse done the right way for the right reasons.

I’m not 100% sure what that means, but when you combine it with the earlier mentioned quote from the presser, it begs the question: is someone doing it the wrong way? Are there wrong reasons? How is the LXM really so different from the MLL? If I were an MLL guy, I might take umbrage with that line as well. It just comes across as more than a little backhanded.

The reactions to Spallina’s Twitter comment were also pretty engaging, which is partially my fault. What can I say, I like to stir the pot, especially when it’s this delicious:

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Seems like everyone out there (Ok, five people) wants to see an MLL vs LXM game in some way, shape, or form… And I must admit that I am in love with Kevin Proctor’s suggestion that they use NCAA rules and sticks. I mean, warum nicht? (That’s German for “why not?”, I think. Thanks BP!). Greg Gurenlian thinks it would be a bloodbath. But I think he’s a little biased. He still might be right, although I’m not sure about that.

Will an LXM vs MLL game ever happen? OF COURSE NOT! That would require competing entities to work together in a substantial way, because our sport is big enough to support divisive practices… oh wait, it’s not. Oh well. Maybe next year?

A MLL vs LXM game seems incredibly unlikely, even though it could be great for both leagues. Fans can hold on to hope for now, but that’s about it. I’ve spoken with both sides on this issue, and it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen, for a number of different reasons. That could change going forward, and I sincerely hope that it does, but for now, it’s a non-starter.

Of course, THAT would be doing things the right way for the game, but whatever, right!?

Who Partners With The NLL First?

If the two field lacrosse groups won’t work together, who will be the first to partner with the NLL?

Yes, I know that box lacrosse is different, but to think that fans can not enjoy both is insane. Not everyone will pull over from field to box and vice versa, but some will, and that would help ALL of the pro lacrosse leagues grow their base. Let’s face it, if you can follow a 162 game baseball season, you can follow around 32 games spread across two pro lacrosse leagues. The Lacrosse Network broadcasts games online for free. It’s not that hard.

Absurd. I'd partner with the NLL.

Absurd. I’d partner with the NLL. Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo

Part of the reason that I bring this up, and why I’m including it here, is that I have heard some interesting rumors about sponsorship in the NLL, and how it could be in flux. It’s definitely in flux if Reebok drops Lacrosse! Nice catch, 412. For now, let’s keep it all hypothetical as the rumors could still be nonsense in the end:

If the current sponsor were to go away, who would step in? It seems like Warrior, STX, and Maverik are the companies making moves in the pro world right now, so that could be an option, and could draw either the MLL or LXM much closer to the NLL. But what if a newer lacrosse company, like Easton or Nike, decided to get involved? Could a better partnership emerge there?

All I know is that the number of pro lacrosse fans out there isn’t huge, so if the indoor league could partner with a field league, the crossover potential seems viable. Who will make that happen first? Will it ever happen at all? With two field leagues out there, each looking for an edge, it makes sense that a serious and open partnership would be explored.

Speaking of partnerships…

Will Cascade Stay In the MLL?

This Summer, the MLL opened up its sponsorship doors to other companies. I haven’t heard of anyone major signing up to get involved (major like another gear manufacturer), but actually I’m more interested to see if Cascade sticks with the league after their exclusive contract ends next year.

Warrior obviously makes its own helmets, and you figure they HAVE to be dropping an updated version next year, right? With all the helmet work this year and last year, it only makes sense to update the helmet. Is it a coincidence that Cascade’s MLL exclusivity runs out then as well? Probably. But it does seem to suggest that we could see Warrior helmets in the MLL, possibly as early as next Summer.

If Cascade has to re-nogiatate to get back in, and has to pay the same fees that every one else pays, I’m not so sure they’ll stick around for that. It just doesn’t seem to fit in with their past business practices. Cascade usually pays in product, not dollars. So will things change? Will they stay if they have another viable option, like the LXM PRO?

At this point, only time will tell.

Final Thoughts:

At the end of the day, Maverik’s sponsorship move to the LXM makes sense, and in the long-term it should benefit both parties. The LXM has another lacrosse company involved, which improves outside perception as well as in-community marking efforts. Maverik now has a location where their pro players can be Maverik players as well.

The West Coast will see some even more excellent lacrosse players get involved with the pro aspect of the sport out there, and Maverik will continue their relationship with Adrenaline, and push for West Coast influence.

I also don’t think that this move will hurt the MLL in any way. The sheer number of top quality players vying to get into the MLL is staggering. The league might lose guys like Bitter, Miller, Costabile, Sweeney, and others, but there are guys ready to step in and fill the spots right away. This is no crisis for the MLL.

The big question I have remains, and it was here before this news emerged: Is This Good For The Game? Do two league splitting the efforts of one community help or hurt lacrosse? Is this a viable long-term option? Is there something better out there? Could there be something better?

And to answer the above, I’m not sure either way. Both the MLL and LXM have a lot to offer. I’m just interested to see how it all plays out. My hope is that it helps the game grow, and doesn’t fracture the community. That is the only truly right way, and if that happens, then I’m happy.

About the author

Connor Wilson

Connor is the Publisher of LacrosseAllStars.com. He lives in Brooklyn with his better half, continues to play and coach both box and field lacrosse in NYC as much as possible, and covers the great game that is lacrosse full-time. He spends his spare time stringing sticks and watching Futurama.

10 Comments

  • Great post… As someone who is merely tangentially affiliated with
    Adrenaline and LXM (since they’re coming here to Mercersburg!), I think
    the “doing it right” part is because of their connection with the youth
    tournament (the ATS part of LXM|ATS) and community outreach on their
    showcase weekends.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with both
    leagues, and certainly a game between LXM and MLL would be awesome…but
    to me, the Maverik deal is as much about Mav going west as it is about
    Adrenaline coming east!

  • I think Spallina is off on this one just a bit considering a few LXM players were actually in the MLL. Also take into account for the most part the MLL is an east coast league while LXM is a on the west coast. Maybe guys like the fun and sun of Cali and that is their deciding factor (not to mention jobs) of which league to play.

  • There is no way two professional leagues can be a bad thing for lacrosse, especially considering we are still only looking at 10 teams total with rosters around 25 (?).

    As lacrosse continues to grow, elite-level players will always be looking for a place to play at a high level. The fact that all the STX players are now LXM and it only makes sense for some of the Maverik ones to come over, the LXM will continue to excel and become a bigger deal.

  • Great post, Connor.

    I wonder if the “doing it right” also extends to having two different companies (STX
    and Maverik) involved unlike the MLL (Warrior and Brine are basically the same company). That LXM is trying to expand the options for the players versus the rigid equipment rules that have been in place with the MLL. I get a less carnival and “bro” vibe from LXM based on the companies they are associated with, as well.

    Do you think, and I could be completely ridiculous with this thought, that Under Armour throws it’s hat into the ring with the NLL?

    • Under Armour has a box mask, and makes box pads. They are partnered with Team 22, which employs a number of box first players. Is it ridiculous to think they are interested? HARDLY! It makes a lot of sense. Who knows if it will happen or not, but I don’t think it’s a difficult supposition to make.

      I’d be REALLY interested if the NLL did a share agreement like Team USA did for the Duel in Denver. Multiple companies, all involved, all promoting the event/league… possibly less money comes in from the sponsors, but the exposure is increased exponentially. To me, that route has the most potential from a hypothetical point of view.

      The question remains, can companies work together? Or are they focused on dividing up a tiny pie, instead of baking a larger one?

  • I think the biggest piece of this is that the LXMPRO was purchased/acquired/partnered up with Adrenaline Lacrosse. For a league/brand to integrate in with a retail outlet in this sense, not just as a sponsor but as an owner, creates even more leverage for the LXMPRO. Look at what the MLL/Warrior alliance created, now imagine what the LXMPRO/Adrenaline(and every brand they sell through retail)… Maverik didnt just buy a spot as far as a League sponsor, they bought a little more shelf space and team sales push.
    I like the “rivalry” between the MLL and LXMPRO leagues. It keeps each other on their toes, and will hopefully create 1-2 more LXMPRO teams and 3-4 MLL teams in the future.

  • Who wouldn’t love to see the LXM vs. MLL game become the “Super Bowl” of lacrosse. We need 2 leagues from a competitive standpoint to grow the sport, but they will need to merge at some point to bring the sport up to a major pro sport level. It may be a few years, and some serious sponsor cooperation, away, but it needs to happen.

  • I think it would be interesting to see the LXM and the MLL play some sort of “Super Bowl of Lacrosse” game against each other. I think that the two leagues is only a good thing for lacrosse if they are willing to work together. If they became sort of like the NFC and the AFC in the NFL, where they are part of the same “league” in the sense that they both compete for the same title at the end of the season, but also are independent leagues in the sense that they have their own tournaments to decide who plays in the big final game, I think lacrosse would grow tremendously as a professional sport.

  • This is a Brand Marketers dream. I think that having LXM teams full of one core sponsor athletes makes the sport more competitive because each company will be competing to sign the next best player so they can have them on their teams. It will only make the sport more popular and better for the players. The players benefit because the companies want to sign them before their competitors and the companies benefit because they get the exposure from their signings and their teams rocking the newest gear from that brand. I could also see Under Armour as a potential sponsor for NLL and/or LXM.

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