Pro

The Truth About Player Endorsements & The Pros

Euro Hockey Lax

We’ve been hearing a lot from former players, current players, our fans, and even an agent for lacrosse players, about player endorsements in the pros, with a special focus on field lacrosse, and specifically, the MLL.  So far, the key change a lot of people want to see is that individual players can wear the gear from their respective sponsor company.  Paul Rabil can wear Maverik. Ryan Powell can wear Nike. Brett Queener can use Easton.  Anthony Kelly can use STX.  You get the picture.  And the idea is that this direct sponsorship opportunity could increase the cash in the pocket of the professional player.

Now, I’m not a professional lacrosse player.  I’ve never played a minute in the MLL or NLL.  I’m not an agent and I haven’t worked for a pro sports team.  But I like to do my homework, I like to talk to people, and I like to listen to opinions from everywhere, so I’m going to break down why these two sides are so far apart.

Connor Wilson Wesleyan Lacrosse

I played D3 ball. Not in the MLL.

As usual, it all comes down to money.  The players want more of it, the league needs more of it (to stay viable and keep growing), and the manufacturers want to spend less of it.  Of the three groups, two are companies eventually motivated by profit, and the third group is made up of humans.  You have 3 major partners with monetary interests, and not quite enough to go around.  So who is going to be left wanting more?  The party that is most replaceable.  And in this specific case, the same people bringing the fans in; the players, are the same ones who get the least out of the deal because right now, they are the most replaceable.  As a league grows, especially in the early stages, this is what tends to happen.  And it comes down to economics and scarcity.

If you were to erase the top two professional leagues, the MLL and NLL, pro lacrosse would suffer a major blow.  Yes, the LXM, Canadian Summer teams, Aussie State Leagues, and clubs like the Crease Monkeys would still exist.  The cupboard wouldn’t be completely bare, but it would looking a lot more empty.  If Warrior and Cascade both disappeared, the lacrosse world would feel it in a major way.  But if Mike Powell leaves the MLL to focus on his music career, or Brendan Mundorf takes a season off from the NLL to focus on the World Games, the leagues go on.  People talk about it, for sure, but no one is saying it’s the end of days.

This is not a knock on the players whatsoever.  They are the reason fans go to games.  Period.  There is no other reasonable possibility.  They put on a heck of a game, stay and sign autographs and talk with fans long into the night.  The players put their heart and soul into it.  But the fact is, there are a LOT of talented players out there, and a new crop of guys in great shape come into the leagues each year.  I don’t see either of the leagues expanding rapidly for at least a couple of years, and until that happens, even star players are somewhat replaceable… by other star players.  In the beginnings, the league has to be bigger than any one player because of the reason I laid out above: there just isn’t enough money to go around.

Some see this as a cutthroat approach to things, and to a certain extent, they’re right.  But it’s necessary as well and is a product of our own consumption habits.  All I hear about in the lacrosse world is EXCLUSIVITY.  I hear it from players sometimes, but mostly I hear it from manufacturing companies.  Companies want an event or relationship to be theirs. If they’re going to pour money into something, it had better work, and it had better only help them, and not their competitors.  Otherwise, they’re just not willing to really pay up at the same rate.  One company will pay more to be the exclusive sponsor than 10 companies will combine to pay to share a sponsorship.  If the event isn’t there, it’s enough to sponsor their top guys and leave it at that.  If they can’t do that cheaply, most manufacturers seem content to just wash their hands of any effort.

Now, as others have pointed out, player sponsorships would still put more money in player’s pockets.  Especially those players that were sponsored.  And that’s a good thing.  I’d like to see the players get paid more too.  For what they are asked to do, they aren’t paid enough.  And the companies would be on board because they can play players less than they’d have to pay in league fees.  But for now, increased player endorsements can’t come at the expense of the league because without the actual MLL, there isn’t a pro outdoor league to play in.

If 5 or more lacrosse companies, not currently in the MLL, would all split the costs with Warrior, and everyone could sponsor one team and stack it with their players, MAYBE it could work, but even that is extremely unlikely because their is no single sponsor in control.  Or you let the stars get sponsored and then the teams have to pay for the non-endorsed players gear.  Either way, the league is still out a LOT of money.  And without these sponsors paying the league decent chunks of change to allow their players to use their equipment, the pro lacrosse model just isn’t big enough to work.

We would go back to a single event and tournament style post-collegiate career, and all of the money would shift right back to the college game.  Making a career out of lacrosse would go back to being one in a million, if that.

Without a single sponsor that not only sees a lot of value in the MLL, but that is also willing to pay to sponsor the league exclusively, it just doesn’t work.  More cash directly into the players hands is definitely the goal, but at this point, there just doesn’t seem to be enough to go around.

Nike can promote Max Seibald without him using their products in the MLL.  And it’s a lot cheaper than what they would have to pay in to the MLL to make it worthwhile for the league.  And the fact is, Nike isn’t making a killing in lacrosse… yet.  So they’re not going to pour tons of money into something that seems to be growing just fine on its own.  They can get in on the ground floor still effectively and cheaply.  Like Lee Southren said, it’s just good business.

The bottom line is that lacrosse companies aren’t exactly making money hand over fist right now.  This is true of manufacturers, the pro leagues, and a lot of other higher food chain type businesses.  When the economy was good, the MLL grew a bit, and then contracted.  Please remember, this was still in the league’s first 10 years.  The NLL has also seen teams drop off, but the fact that the league is still going, and is as competitive as ever, bodes well for the future.  If you look at the early years of almost any pro American sports league, you will see contraction periods and tens of teams folding.  It’s all a part of progress.  And until those pro leagues were selling out venues and getting multiple sponsors, players weren’t rolling the dough.  The NFL was a league of part-time players for quite some time.  Why do we expect lacrosse to be magically different?

We all have our personal views on the pro leagues, and most of these views arise because we want to see the Pros succeed.  I’ve proposed my own crazy ideas in the past because it’s fun… and I’ll continue to do so.  But at the same time, I realize MLL Commissioner David Gross doesn’t live in my lacrosse fantasy world.  He lives and works right here in reality and has to work with what is in front of him.

He, and the rest of the MLL, have to make tough decisions, and sometimes these choices hurt people financially and emotionally.  Sometimes it means guys have to stop playing because better opportunities came up.  It’s all a part of trying to do something new in a small market, but on a big stage.  The MLL, in my eyes, is still very much a young professional league that has covered a lot of distance in a short time, but still has a long way to go.  Big time demands are going to be placed on players early on.  They’re going to be paid very little and it’s going to be tight to make a living.  Careers will last 3-5 years instead of 7-10 years for more players because the dollars and cents just won’t work out.  And it’s a shame that more guys will have to give it up.  But until attendance starts rising and other revenue streams solidify, a multiple manufacturer sponsorship deal probably isn’t on the near horizon.

The league could do it, but then they’d cease to exist.

I would hope that more players will be able to build their brand and name in the pros for 5 years and then start up businesses related to the sport, or pursue other careers.  But even this “short” pro career will require an inordinate amount of sacrifice.  But it’s the same thing that’s been asked of a lot of the start up pro league players before them. Some guys will stick it out for much longer but they won’t be as common as in other sports, simply because the money just isn’t there.

The above situation will hold the league back a bit, as fans will have a harder time connecting with their team.  Players will be hard pressed to develop really strong followings that quickly, but the MLL has to be banking on the consistent flow  of high-quality new players for now.  Guys will tire out, or find better opportunities, but the primary focus of the MLL for the next ten to twenty years should be survival and sustainable growth.  And I hope going bankrupt to keep the star players of today happy is not their solution.  I’d like to see the MLL, and all pro larosse players, be very successful by the time I’m old and wrinkly, but for that to happen, there is still a lot of sacrifice to make in the meantime.

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.

41 Comments

    • Because the “market” and what not, maybe the traditional business model of growing a league needs to be tweaked.

      Yeah the NFL and other pro sports leagues started off slow, but how is it the lacrosse, which claims to be the oldest team sport, is so far behind??

      Some people will say that lacrosse is huge up north, or why do we want to be like the other sports, and my answer to that is… Yeah, lacrosse is huge up north, AND? Whats your point, do you not want to Grow the Game elsewhere. And why not be like the other sports? $$$, more teams, extended careers, developmental leagues, the creation of an “And 1″ type of lacrosse tour, etc. It’s not selling out, it’s survival.

      Just my opinion…

      GTL; Grow Texas Lacrosse!

      • I think that’s what happening Chewy… just at a slow, reasonable, safe speed.

        The Cali teams didn’t work out… but I bet we’ll see another one within 10 years. And we could see one in Tejas too. Wouldn’t shock me.

        • I think the Cali teams didn’t work out because they tried to run those teams and those markets as if they were NE markets. And generally, I would definitely agree with going at a safe speed, but a safe speed in this instance creates stagnant growth. As much effort as the league is putting into naming the Charlotte team, they need to start trying to figure out how to get fans into the stadium/field to watch the games. They need to start getting fans to commit to watching the other teams in the market, or as the Charlotte team launches another will collapse. I think having a Ohio team is great, but I thing the name “the Machine” might be cursed… Just my opinion.

          Oh, and YES… there will be a Texas team, you can count on that.

          • Food for thought. I’ve said it before – and by no means do I have the answer, but – If we cannot get fans in seats in MD/DC area and in Long Island – traditional lacrosse hotbeds … How are we going to do it anywhere else? The Bayhawks have tried to work at a billion different venues!

            Boston … GREAT sports town (doesn’t hurt that the league headquarters is there). Denver … GREAT sports town, and super outdoorsy. Yet, who else is really tipping the scales? That was one of LA’s problems. We had an awesome on field product, were treated like professionals top to bottom, played in a really cool venue, but we didn’t pull enough fans to support the operation. Now, one problem was that we were playing in an Carson, but the lacrosse population was not in Carson. We played our last game of the 08 season in Orange County at Orange Coast College, and had a really nice turnout … Was it 11K? No, but it was a nice start! Fans outside of that area would go there to watch because they can make a day/weekend out of it. That wasn’t so much the case the other way around. Unfortunately that would be the last regular season Riptide game ever. RIP, ‘Tide.

            But back to the original point, you have to put fans in seats for the league to survive … or have league/team owners that reallllly do not mind losing the money every year, for the greater good (?) … which seems to be the case.

  • I don’t see it opening up any time soon. Warrior was all but running ads on Facebook and Twitter of Rabil at the WLC playing in Warrior gear. Comments and photos of his accomplishments and what equipment he was doing it in. That had to drive Maverick crazy.

    Not to mention, look at last years NCAA tournament and they were quick to point out the Gait sponsored Virginia team was using a ton of Warrior and Brine heads.

  • I”m just thinking to myself…what do ‘non-lacrosse’ people think of all this?? What’s it gonna take to get the general public to become casual lacrosse fans? I think it there was more of a fan following, there would have to be more growth at the professional level. Fans mean ticket sales, apparel sales, and word of mouth travels super fast via social media and technology these days…what the heck does it take to get people to realize that this is the greatest sport on Earth?! Wake up!!!

  • Great article, and I am baffled why lacrosse doesn’t appeal the the average sports fan, it has it all, hitting, high scoring, fast paced. Everything that our ADD society craves. It’s all about $$$$$$, and with this struggling economy, I’m just pleased to see the leagues (MLL & NLL) standing at all.

  • When I first read RP’s post, I thought about submitting one as well. However there are some things that I have comments about that I do not know all the facts on, and would rather be completely informed, before I speak … Or at least find a away to make my comments a little more general. So this post, is less about being factually correct and coming up with a plan, as much as it is thinking out loud. However, I believe that I’m thinking out loud from pretty unique perspective.

    Kyle Harrison. RP, CP, MP. Jon Christmas. Paul Rabil. Matt Danowski. Joe Walters. Brodie Merril. Other guys …

    While I like to think teams had to at least account for me in college, I was not nearly as big a name as any one of these endorsed athletes. I wasn’t on any IL covers. I was not an All American in college. I was on the Tewaarton watch list for about 3 weeks my senior year. I wasn’t even on an NCAA tourney team during my 4 years. I’m one of the few guys that has made a name for himself SINCE graduating from THE Brown (*State) University (*… It’s a Brown thing, you wouldn’t understand).

    When Brine signed me (Thank you Nate, and JB), and I was in that first commercial with MP, that’s when things reeeeeally took off. Unfortunately, during MLL games, only Brine and Warrior guys get any kind of publicity, which is unfortunate. If I’d been signed to STX or anyone else … who knows if LAS would even care to interview me? Who knows if there’d be youtube vids, etc.?

    From a Warrior, NB marketing perspective it’s great. They can take footage of Rabil and all of these other guys and as long as they are using in the context of MLL, they are **using other companies’ athletes to market their own product.**Outside of Rabil and maybe Mundorf, I don’t know how many athletes signed to companies other than Warrior/Brine pop up in MLL advertising.

    But what if these other companies were to say to Jeffrey Tewaarton Winner, of the 2012 NCAA Champion Brown University Bears (hey … it could happen!)
    1) Your MLL salary will be $X,000. So we’ll pay you $1,000 more to sign with us and NOT play MLL
    2) We’ll do the marketing for a series of camps/appearances that you’ll be able to make $$ on, plus we can do commercials with you that will run throughout the NCAA season on ESPNU.
    3) We’ll even throw you product for your usage … AND you can play in any events that you want (LXM, Vail, Placid etc…)

    Does the league start to lose the higher profile players that normally would be coming out of college and playing in the league? Now, I realize this isn’t going to happen for every single top draft pick, but truthfully of all the guys drafted, how many continue to play more than 2 or 3 years anyway? Lineups are tough to crack, weddings, and jobs interfere with summer schedules, and sometimes it’s just not all that appealing to give up every weekend of your summer when you could be doing other things.

    Again, this is all hypotheical. I don’t have the answers, but I do think that the players are what make the league tick, and despite what league officials may have convinced themselves, there are plenty of players that are not happy with the product. While larger salaries would make all players happier, it’s probably not all that realistic at this point. There are a few little things that could be taken care of that could ease some tension, and allowing endorsed athletes to use their own product, is one major step. I realize this would keep Warrior/Brine/NB from using these athletes, but they don’t use them anyway in their adds. It’s MLL itself that would no longer have use for these athletes’s image and likeness. Other than that, it’s not going to change much, other than allow those companies to better utilize their own athletes. EVERYONE knows that Kyle is an STX guy (except when they confuse him for me). Playin MLL didn’t change that. EVERYONE knows Brodie is a Reebok guy. EVERYONE knows that Grant Jr. is an Adidas guy (ok, maybe not eeeverybody, but you get the picture). Everyone knew Christmas was a Maverick guy. Nobody is confused.

    My next point opens a whole different can of worms, so I will try phrase it in a way that is inquisitive, rather than critical. Last year when LXM began, there was a lot of discussion among MLL players. First and foremost, very few players knew anything about what it was or how it was going to work. The one thing we did know was that MLL would not contractually allow players to compete in both, EVEN if non of the events conflicted. Now … One thing that was brought up was MLL being a part time summer job. FACT. Hard to dispute that. BUT contracts are year long contracts and prevent you from playing in any other professional outdoor competition, which essentially means that for 4 1/2 months, you can play MLL (make money ONLY when you dress), but if you cannot make any other money playing the game that we love for the rest of the year. Doesn’t it make more sense to allow players to play in other events – LXM, Charity games, showcases, etc? Now you’re not only allowing players to continue getting paid, but you’re also having your athletes constantly marketing your league. Similar to the endorsement side of things, nobdoy is going to confuse players. Paul Rabil will still be a Boston Cannon even if he’s playing in a random pay-for-play event in Arizona, or Florida, or Texas. Protecting players (health wise) is not an argument, as players could blow out knees playing pickup basketball in the offseason. So why not alter the contract to go from the start of training camp, to the end of the season? Why limit guys’ salaries? Players gain NOTHING in the MLL offseason from the contract … no health benefits, no money, no paid opportunities with the league (to my knowledge). So if, for example, you get hurt and miss half a season, you could lose half of your salary, and not be able to make it up the rest of the year. … Seems like a small change that could go over well with a lot of the players … Just saying.

    At any rate, I think Major League Lacrosse, and it’s affiliates have done some great things for the game. I do think that the organization is very shortsighted, and that a lot more could be done to increase players’ enthusiasm about the game, and faith in the league.

    WAY more than I intended to say … But would love to see comments, particularly from anybody that’s “in the know.”

    • Let me preface this saying that I used to work for True Lacrosse, as one of very few full time staff members who were not current or former MLL players, but am no longer affiliated with them in any way. I wish them the best, because they a great group of guys who are building the game the right way across the Midwest.

      I have to agree with the sentiments illustrated by you here Chazz. I know for a fact that a few of players I came into contact with were seriously considering sitting out the entire 2010 MLL season simply because it was no longer worth it. It wasn’t lucrative enough, and there were far too many headaches for them to deal with.

      Warrior has a solid business plan in regards to league operations, but also utilize some bullish tactics. For instance, True Lacrosse purchased hundreds of entry level sticks, pads, gloves, etc from Gait to be utilized by their youth leagues. A Warrior rep (also an MLL player), called up True Lacrosse head quarters to bitch that True was using Gait, not Warrior/Brine products for their private business. This was shortly after True Lacrosse had called to inquire about being sponsored by Warrior, and they were told the only way to get sponsored was to spend $100,000 a year on Warrior products.

      Warrior would not budge on pricing for bulk orders being ordered by a private company, who happen to be MLL players; yet complain when they do not buy from them. It didn’t make much sense to me then, and it still doesn’t now.

      I’m not sure all the ins and outs of MLL contracts, but True Lacrosse is a company owned and operated completely outside the scope of the MLL. Warrior, and I suppose in the bigger picture NB, should really keep out of the private lives of MLL players.

    • Great take, Chazz. Really appreciate you taking the time out to lay down
      your thoughts here. The fact that MLL player contracts last a full year and
      the player receives no benefits or off-season financial gain is absurd.

      Something I’ve always wondered: when will a PA be formed to put a stake in
      all the player mistreatment? If MLL players WANT something, they have the
      power to get it. They just need to want it bad enough to put in the effort
      and take a stand. Truth is it could really benefit the league – and the game
      – in the long run.

      • Well, there is something of a Players’ Association. However, its tough for it to really have any pull because 1) I think most players are not aware and definitely not involved. 2) … More importantly, the world goes on. At the end of the day, unless nearly EVERY player is willing to not sign a contract (next to impossible) it doesn’t matter. There are too many players that are plenty content playing under the current contracts. After all, you’re getting paid to play a game you love. To my knowledge, the contract hasn’t changed much in 10 years, but until last year, there was no other professional outdoor option – league/exhibition/tour/other. So what difference did the contract make? At the end of the day you were signing a piece of paper, that got you some you some dough.

        Not ruffling feathers makes plenty of sense. There’s a surplus of players to go around. So there’s no real threat to MLL, if a few players don’t want to play.

        • Unfortunately you are 100% correct. There are enough talented laxers out there that the league can always recover from players losses. The fact that NB will dig into its pockets and CREATE a new star certainly helps.
          Take Mikey Powell, for example. When he decided to leave the league lost its biggest star. He was one of the best laxers in the modern era, and arguably the biggest star in the history of the game. His line with Brine had just launched but the company would have to market it without him. So NB was left without its biggest player and a signature athlete.
          Amazingly Paul Rabil landed on MP’s Cannons team the year before, giving the league and its marquee/home town team a new, brighter star. Rabil already signed with two competitors (UA & Maverik), so they had to find a new athlete for Brine.
          They came up with the league’s Michael Jordan – a charismatic, easily identifiable guy that just happened to play for Chicago (can’t quite think of his name…haha). They shot some great footage and held an interactive fan campaign to cut the commercial. He was promoted heavily on Brine’s website, NB’s website, in ads, etc. Then amazingly ended up in Boston.
          Boom one star player replaced with two. One of whom – despite being a solid and skilled player in his own right – was NOT a well known name before hand.
          Just to clarify, I greatly respect you, Chazz. You earned what you’ve received on your own merits and through your hard work. You are a great role model for young players and an asset to the lax community. Thank you.

      • Jeff/Chazz think about this. You all have seen attendance at games, right? Do you really think the owners of the teams and league have all this money and they just don’t feel like sharing it with the players? “player mistreatment”? If the players demanded more money, and drove up the cost of doing business, teams would fold and the league would probably fold. Then there would be no way to get a pay check for playing, no matter how modest you think it is. Bottom line is, players arent forced to play MLL and a gun is not put to anyone’s head to force them to play. Great players have come and gone and the league is still around. And you have your team owners,sponsors and league office SPENDING and LOSING money because they need to put down money to operate. They are basically immediately digging themselves out of a hole. The players do not lose money. In fact, they are the only group that doesn’t take any financial risk in playing since they are guaranteed a pay check. Players, coaches, GMs, front office staff, owners, sponsors want to make more money. Only a few of those parties have potential to lose money. Players are an important part of the game. So are FANS. Instead of whining about how little they get and bashing the league to the public, why not encourage people to go to games? High attendance and packed stadiums will give teams more $ to spend and give players more leverage to negotiate higher salaries. A negative attitude just ensures that players wont get paid more. MORE FANS will = Higher pay. So go out and get more fans to games!!!

        • I agree with your general point. However, if you think that players do not encourage people to attend you’re sadly mistaken. Now, I cannot vouch for eeeeeeevery player in the league, but I do know this. Players and fans make the league what it is. Without players, there are no fans. Without fans, there’s no league. This is the main reason that the autograph sessions and player/fan interactions are SO important – maybe as important as the on field product. Most of the guys in the league are VERY good about interacting with fans, and trying to encourage people to come out to games. However, it’s tough to get your hometown fans to come see you, when you don’t live in your hometown. That’s a matter of league/team marketing. I was almost ALWAYS the very last person signing autographs after games. The guy that security was trying to shoe people out the stadium for. That’s a matter of simply making myself accessible, which I think 98% of the players do. But beyond that it’s tough. How do I encourage fans to come out to see me in Annapolis, when I live in Miami.

          As for whining about pay …
          It could be argued that the on field product would be better if players could afford to play lacrosse as their primary (not single) means of income. The question is where’s that money coming from? There’s no answer, because it’s not there.

          We all know this, and I think you’re missing the point. EVERYONE wants to be paid more. You are 100% correct. And there are some parties that can/will lose money. Players understand this. Guys do not sit around the locker room mad about their pay checks. They know what they are getting when they sign the contract. As you mentioned, there are no guns to anyone’s head. The issue at hand, however, is the limitations on what players can and cannot do. And the idea that some of those things, if tweaked, MIGHT allow for players, and maybe the teams/league, to earn a little more from outside sources. Nobody expects the league to up the salaries. We all understand that the money isn’t there.

          • Great points. Every player I’ve talked to in the MLL (& NLL for that matter) work their asses off trying to get people to the games. They hold camps, post on forums, Tweet, Facebook, and straight up talk to people. Hell, from what I’ve experienced they do a better job of it than the league itself.* Before we knew Chicago was bouncing last year, a couple of players were letting me know when their teams were coming to Chicago so I’d make the six hour drive over to catch the game.
            Guys that LIVE in MLL cities have no clue about game days, or even that the teams exist, until a player tells them at a clinic. Every time a team moves or folds, you can count on a few Lax Forums posts from locals asking when that happened. I realize that lax isn’t one of the Big Four or even MLS, but when the team/league is not making itself known to the public, you cannot expect fans to show up.
            Again, I appreciate and respect what Chazz and other players do to make this league survive.
            *From my experience the NLL is better at trying to get fans – especially out of town fans – to come to games than MLL.

  • In my opinion, I think that the company (let’s use Maverik in this example) should give the player (Paul Rabil) a set contract where Maverik pays him ___ amount of money instead of paying him depending on how well Maverik/the product Rabil is endorsing does. That way the player would be endorsed without being able to “ask” for more, the company would get what they allow themselves to get, and the league (MLL) will get their share as well. I enjoyed reading this article, Connor.

    • Not 100% sure, but I’m pretty sure that’s how most of the “endorsed athlete” contracts already work. The pay is not based on how well the company/product/player does. However, that has nothing to do with the league. The league will have no part of non Warrior/Brine/NB (/Cascade) product. Perfect example … A guy can get fined for wearing anything else … EVEN … if it doesn’t show – a goalie’s chest protector, for example. The league comes down heavy (relative) on this.

      • The NLL has it written into the rule book that if someone wears non Reebok gear they can’t be on the field. There may be other fines too, but if an opposing coach see Rabil step on the field wearing Maverick gloves or Under Armour shoes he just has to point it out to the ref and he’s out for the game.

        17.2 OFFICIALS DUTIES REGARDING PLAYER
        EQUIPMENT – It shall be the Referees’ duty to see that
        all players are properly dressed and that the approved
        regulation equipment (including the approved on-field
        branded exposure program) is in use at all times during
        the game.

  • Just throwing this out there… Reggie Bush is sponsored by Adidas. Reggie Bush wears Adidas cleats in a Reebok League. Adidas pays Reggie enough to cover the fine and then some, so he is always wearing Adidas cleats.

    What’s stopping Gagliardi (other than burning some Bridges with Dave Morrow & Warrior/NB) from giving Paul Rabil Maverik gear in the Boston Cannons color scheme and having him play in it? Is the MLL really going to stop the (arguably) biggest personality and face of the sport from playing in the highest level league? Or is this what happened to Kyle Harrison?

    • the “fine” Adidas pays for Reggie Bush to wear their products is probably hefty, and equivalent to Adidas buying in for the rights to have their players in their gear.
      My guess is that it’s just two ways of skinning the same cat, but economically it’s the same, and why it most likely won’t happen in lacrosse right now.

        • you’re right. I always forget that Adidas owns Reebok. So the analogy is more like Brine Warrior. Players use Brine gear in the MLL, because Warrior owns Brine. And they used New Balance, because they own them both.
          I REALLY like that the MLL uses Cascade helmets. That’s actually a huge first step that has already taken place (in the first ten years) which should be celebrated. But they must both buy in and pay to have their gear worn.
          Nice that Warrior is ok with it though and isn’t 100% focused on Exclusivity.

          • I think part of that is that they know their helmets have been less than stellar. I’m wondering how long it will be before we start seeing Warrior helmets in the league, at least on the players endorsed by NB/Brine/Warrior. Now that the company is only making Warrior buckets and people are respecting the TII, I would not be shocked to see them being used. Which will suck, but at least they would have more customization available based on what we’ve seen so far with college teams.

          • The Cascade contract is there for 2 reasons.

            1) When the league started the Warrior Stryke helmets sucked and they had internal plans to make changes, but didn’t have a viable piece of equipment for the players to use.
            2) Cascade was willing to stroke a BIG check and the league needed the money.

  • The MLL and its owners are losing money, right? But some of these players who are making money are going to tell them they need to lose more so they can wear another sponsor? What world do they live in?

    • I’m not sure that’s 100% accurate. Remember … NB/Warrior own/run the MLL. MLL isn’t going to drop NB/Warrior because of a non-exclusive deal. And NB/Warrior isn’t going to leave MLL. They (pretty much) OWN the league. The only reason I say pretty much, is because I don’t know the legality of it all. So MLL is not going to lose money as a result of players being allowed to represent the companies that they endorse/work for.

      Players do, however, miss out on an opportunity to market themselves. In fact … you wouldn’t BELIEVE how 1 sided the MLL contract reads when it comes to the usage of Pictures, Likenesses, Endorsements, and Promotion (Article IX). Reading it right now, it’s truly ridiculous. Now, fortunately, the league is not terribly hard on that when it comes to promotion for camps, etc. How can they completely police that anyway? But if they could, and chose to do so, it would comepletely screw everyone. They are also very 1 sided when it comes to Player Services (Article II). Again, they are not very strict on this stuff, probably for a number of reasons. But as the contract reads, they cooooooould ask players to do a WHOLE LOT of stuff, in addition to playing, and they would not be compensated any extra for any of it.

      Not to mention, there’s no bargaining power. Your contract is sent out. The league (not the teams) pays you what they decide they will pay you, and that’s that. Again, part of that is because there are enough players to go around. If Rabil doesn’t sign a contract, it would hurt, but the league would go on.

      • Warrior/NB/Brine should have exclusivity. They are the ones that stroked the check to found the league and took all of the risk in getting it off the ground.

        At the same time by them sponsoring the league, negotiating the TV deal and getting it out there they are promoting Maverick, Reebok and Adidas’ guys every week. You think John Grant Jr or Brodie Merrill would be household names based on their NCAA or Canadian team work? The reason why most people know Jr and Brodie is because of their stellar play every summer in the MLL and the fact that Warrior/NB has them on ESPN 10 times every summer. They have used that to negotiate deals with Adidas and Reebok, set up camps, appearances and the like. They are benefiting from it.

        • Very valid points. I think Brodie (and too an extent Grant, Jr.) is a little different, because after all, he’s a very good NLL player. Reebok sponsors that league. A couple of other things. If I’m not mistaken, Brodie was actually working for Reebok for a while. That makes a big difference. That means he’s not “just” an endorsed athlete. This, I believe, is the case for the Maverick guys, minus Rabil. And I think it’s the same for most of the STX guys. And I know that this is/has been the case even some Warrior/Brine guys. Lacrosse players that are solely endorsed athletes, is a very new concept. And there are few and far in between.

          As for TV, when those players are playing, they are representing their company, sure. But they are not promoting the product. And because only Warrior/Brine/NB commercials show during MLL games, the advertising affect is often limited. It’s not the same as a Kobe Bryant, who handles the ball 40 minutes of a 60 minute game. Not only is he in the spotlight the whole time, and the subject of every 4th or 5th comment by the announcers, but all of his playing footage can be taken and used in commercials. The same cannot be done for these non Warrior/NB/Brine guys … partially because there’s not necessarily as much good content, and partially because league contracts don’t allow it. PLUS, even if the contracts allowed it, the footage would be null and void because they are wearing a competitors gear head to toe.

          • Very good points Chazz. Most of the guys we see that have gotten deals recently have gotten them the moment they stepped out of college. Look at the Warrior stuff at ESPN. All of those guys walked out of college and into MLL/Warrior rep contracts. That’s not the way it used to be. Brodie being a Canadian did have the NLL stuff, but I really think it was the MLL that made him a household name in the US. If I remember right, didn’t Mark Million retire from the MLL because it was getting in the way of his day job as a sales/marketing rep for Warrior?

            I think the growth of the game has helped and I think that Warrior/NB realize that the more their talent gets out the community to push the sport, the more kids will want to play and the more gear they will sell. 2 years ago I worked the THINK Detroit PAL lacrosse camp that Warrior put on and I got rub elbows with some famous lacrosse player (can’t remember who it was) while teaching kids that had never been exposed to it before. I’m not sure how many pairs of Mac Daddy’s they sold from that event, but they did put 200 sticks into the community. I know there is good money for the players to work camps, but I wish they would spend more time spreading the game in non traditional areas and coaching parents on how to coach.

        • And more specifically to your initial comment … “Warrior/NB/Brine should have exclusivity. They are the ones that stroked the check to found the league and took all of the risk in getting it off the ground.”

          While I don’t think that it’s best for the development of professional lacrosse, I think you’re absolutely, 100% correct! And that’s the catch 22 here. It’s their league. And that’s the bottom line. That, in itself, is why non of these other options are even considered. It’s also the reason that the league is not going to fall apart until they decide they’ve lost enough money. As long as they want to keep writing checks, MLL will exist, and will probably exist in pretty close to the same state in which it does now.

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