2014 Bowhunter Cup Canceled.
I know this is not the news anyone wanted to hear.
Yesterday, the Iroquois Nationals announced that Team USA had withdrawn from the 2014 Bowhunter Cup. It was announced that the Iroquois would still play the game, but that it would be an all Haudensaunee affair, with two native teams squaring off in Buffalo this weekend. Today, the Nationals have announced that the 2014 Bowhunter Cup has been canceled. They also note that they “look forward to posting a rescheduled date”.
Now let’s look at the situation a little more closely, and try to figure out what is really going on here…
Although some sites are still reporting that the Bowhunter is seven years old, it is not. This year’s Bowhunter would have been the fifth Cup event, and the Iroquois held a 3-1 edge in the series. The US had only won in 2010, the event’s first year. 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 would have made it five. Not seven. The US and Iroquois have played seven times if you count the Bowhunter Cup teams as true national teams, which they are not. Typically, the Bowhunter team from the US has been the US Developmental Team, run by USIL.
The US team that had been entered in the past was put together by the USIL (United States Indoor Lacrosse), which is NOT a part of US Lacrosse. USIL paved the way for the Bowhunter to happen, and organize the older US box teams. For the FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, US Lacrosse would typically farm the operation of the team out, and USIL was often named as the subcontractor. Grahamn D’Aliva was the man behind the USIL and he was a big part of the reason that US played in the Bowhunter at all.
Here are the all-time USA Vs Iroquois results: IRO won 21-14 in 2003 at the WILC, and they won 14-4 in the 2007 WILC. USA won the first Bowhunter in 2010, IRO won 11-10 in 2011 WILC, and IRO won in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Bowhunter Cup games. Those are ALL the games between these two nations, ever.
When US Lacrosse decided to not farm the team out for the 2015 WILC, they took over operations and brought them in-house. That happened about three and a half weeks ago. As a result of this last minute change, US Lacrosse was not going to be able to put together a Bowhunter team. That actually seems reasonable. Yes, they do have a coach in place in Tony Resch. Yes, they do have assistant coaches and staff in place. But they do NOT have a team in place, or a training team, or anything. They do not have uniforms, they might not even have a full budget… I think you can see where I’m going with this… Basically, US Lacrosse is not ready to put their box team, or even a training team, into a competitive game.
Now, many are complaining that US Lacrosse doesn’t care about box lacrosse and they are using this newest piece of news to say, “see? SEE?!?!? I told you USL doesn’t care about box“, but I don’t think that is really fair. Box lacrosse presents a tough situation for insurance reasons, and that is just a fact. There aren’t helmets MADE for the sport, or APPROVED for the sport in the US. In Canada, where box is huge compared to the US, they are just dealing with this situation NOW. I’m not shocked we’re running a little behind South of the 48th parallel.
The fact is that this transition will take time. US Lacrosse is simply not going to throw together a team that has never practiced or played, and go take on one of the best box nations in the world. That’s not how they roll. They put in lots of prep work, try to do things right, and like to have a plan in place. Maybe you don’t love that approach, and think it’s a cop out to not play in this game, and you may be right. But remember, people have been pleading with US Lacrosse to take an active role in US box lacrosse for years. Now that they are doing it, it will take some time to filter down and really change. That is to be expected.
While I am extremely disappointed that the US and Iroquois won’t be playing box lacrosse this weekend, I will remain hopeful. If the Bowhunter re-emerges later this fall, or over the winter, this incident will be quickly forgotten. If the US improves their showing at the WILC next year, the same will happen. For now, people are angry, but in the long-run I think people will actually like the changes we are all seeing take place right now.
The big picture here IS important. If box lacrosse is going to work in the USA, US Lacrosse MUST be involved. Every other country operates this way and the FIL pretty much requires it. I want to see box lacrosse take off in the US, and USL has the resources to help it happen. From my discussions with them, I think it will happen, but it just might take some time. Yes, it’s a shame that this game is being canceled, but if it leads to improved box lacrosse in the US and better Bowhunter Cup games in the future? I’m all for it.