This Summer I planned on covering Major League Lacrosse as much as I could. I was excited to watch the best field lacrosse on the planet each week, and have some high quality lax back on TV after such a great, and highly televised, college season.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to watch the MLL very much. In fact, I’ve only seen two or three games. I live in New York City, and while I’d love to make it out to Long Island Lizards games, I don’t own a car, so getting out to Hempstead is simply too much work. It’s easier for me to get to the Meadowlands for the Big City Classic in New Jersey than it is for me to get out to Hofstra, which is on Long Island, just like Brooklyn. So in person visits are out, for the most part.
The games also haven’t been on TV very much where I live. While places like New Orleans have seen EVERY MLL game, and places like Boston, Denver and Baltimore have at least seen their team play a bunch, NYC’s Cablevision customers have only seen games broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2, and that amounts to a whopping 2 or 3 games so far.
I’d love to use ESPN3.com to stream the games as a last option, but Cablevision deemed that ESPN3.com took up too much bandwidth (or some other ridiculous claim) so they blocked it. I literally can’t access the feed to ESPN3.com because of my internet provider. In this day and age, that should seem ridiculous. But it’s reality, I guess.
And this is a real shame because 2011 has, at least from the outside, appeared to be the best MLL season in recent memory. Games have been, for the most part, pretty tight, and even teams that struggled early remained competitive. Some of the biggest names have been absent from the game (Kyle Harrison, Ryan Powell, Casey Powell (he’s coming back), Leveille, Doc), but it hasn’t forced the league to skip a beat. The quality of play has, in fact, only improved.
Players like Mundorf, Seibald, Rabil, Crotty, Hartzell, Adams and a host of others are drawing in fans and putting on a heck of a show in the process. New guys are stepping in and stepping up, and veterans are staying on point. Teams continue to develop identities, and fans are developing more and more loyalty. And I haven’t been able to watch any of it!
Highlights on ILacrosse (on youtube) and Lax.com have kept me plugged in. Kyle Devitte has been great to read and both IL and InLaxWeTrust have done their best to cover the sport. Now, maybe I’m biased and egotistical, because I’m pissed that I haven’t been able to give my take on things, but I think it’s preposterous for the MLL and ESPN to allow this to happen because I would imagine that I’m not the only person in the country who faces this situation.
I’d love for the MLL to be on ESPN2 a lot more. The league needs to exposure, and having games on ESPN3.com simply won’t generate that exposure. People don’t flick through the internet channels to see what’s on. They go there with a purpose. You’re not going to connect to NEW fans like that. It’s great that they try to make the games available, but it’s not nearly enough.
Cablevision simply needs to get their program straight. Blocking ESPN3.com is ridiculous. We pay you for internet service, now provide it! Also, there should clearly be a Cabelvision sports channel, which should be part of the Sports Package that I bought, that shows MLL games. Just like the Cox Network in New Orleans. Get on it Cablevision execs! Otherwise I’m switching to Fios.
Next Summer, the MLL will expand to eight teams, with new franchises in Columbus, Ohio and Charlotte, North Carolina. Right now I am praying that these games will be broadcast on TV, and not just the internet. If it doesn’t look good, I’ll be switching service providers. And that’s how you know the MLL has started to make it: A guy like me is willing to switch service providers simply to watch pro lax games. Now they just need to get it on TV more!