The below terrible fight video comes out of the Western Lacrosse Association in Canada. The Maple Ridge Burrards and The Victoria Shamrocks are squaring off for the title in a multi-game series, and this is going down in Game 2, with Victoria up 12-8 on the Burrards.
I would tell you how the game got to this point, but that wouldn’t justify what you’re about to see. It’s pretty much complete mayhem on a lacrosse floor, and it’s not something to be proud of. For anyone.
Terrible Fight – WLA Finals
Things actually start out all right. Two guys have squared off, for whatever reason, and the two are throwing punches. One combatant seemingly has the upper hand, some shoving and scuffling also goes down on the other end of the floor, and more players mass there. So far, so good. In terms of box lacrosse fights (or hockey fights), this is a pretty typical dust up. I can deal with this, and allow the “it’s just part of the game” or “self-policing” arguments to persist in harmony.
Of course at the :15 second mark, all of that abruptly changes.
The Burrards player has now knocked the Shamrocks player to the floor after dominating the fight. Instead of letting up, or shoving him down a couple times, he piles on the haymakers, and shows no signs of stopping. The refs are nowhere to be seen, as they are all engaged in breaking up the scuffle that is going on in the corner. One of the Victoria players does notice what is going on, and he decides to literally and figuratively become Superman, flying through the air and tackling the Burrards’ Bluto. Within seconds, a copycat Superman emerges for Maple Ridge, and the group swells to an octopus like throng of box lacrosse brawlers.
More and more players rush in to the fray, and the lone ref to make it over thinks about getting involved, and then thinks better of it, and takes a step back, almost throwing his arms up in futility. Finally, when another lacrosse player has pinned his opponent to the ground (the same original guy who got pummeled is now pinned, again) and is throwing haymakers, the ref steps in to discipline him… but only when back up, in the form of another ref, arrives.
One of the Burrards players has also won his tilt, and is simply holding the Shamrocks player down. Tip of the hat to him for that. Nice to see someone show a little class after they have dismantled someone toe to toe. Many minutes pass as the refs throw different combinations of players into the penalty box. At the end of the it all, each team has at least a full line of players in the sin bin.
Before play can resume, the camera darts left, to focus on an new tussle that is breaking out in the corner. The refs run in that direction and the teams await the next move. This time, the refs really do give it their all, and if they hadn’t the Maple Ridge player was clearly going to behead the Victoria player. Phew. Glad that didn’t happen.
Then we cut to a tad later, and there is more punching. The refs do a good job of minimizing cheap shots, and about 50% of the players on the floor for each team show very distinct body language that says, “why isn’t this game over already?” Even the crowd seems bored. Then it’s over, and they clap.
Now, I understand the argument of self-policing through fighting and I can even see how it has worked on a very real level for decades. I also think that there can be something better, and when I see fights get to this level, I know that to be true. Multiple players were punched while they were laid out on the ground. How is that sporting? The refs seemed resigned at times to let chaos rule. How is that helping the game in any way?
There was intent to injure in that video. It wasn’t policing, it was retribution. And if that’s where fighting in box lacrosse is at right now, even if it’s rare, then the sport may have a serious problem it’s just not addressing. I love playing and watching box. It’s tough and fast-paced, and it has an edge to it. Guys are competitive and take winning and their play very seriously. All of that is great.
But when the game goes out the window, even for just a couple moments, and it becomes something else, then I start to have my doubts about the set up. Maybe the game needs to be called a little tighter, or the floor needs another ref to catch infractions. Maybe suspensions for cheap shots need to be much longer, or something else needs to change. I’m not sure. But I do know that fights like the ones from Game 2 of the WLA Finals do nothing for our sport, or anyone that plays it.
To be fair, not all box lacrosse is like this. In fact, most box lacrosse is not like that. Check out these Minto Cup highlights. That’s some mighty fine Jr A Lacrosse!
Yeah, you liked that hidden ball trick at the 1:50 mark didn’t you? Was it better than that BTB goal at 2:25? Hard to say either way. Both were pretty. Of course the Six Nations passing sequence at the 3:10 mark was also superb. Johnny Powless is ridiculous. Wouldn’t you rather see box lacrosse like that? Yeah, me too. Let’s clean it up a bit.