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An Apology About Coverage Of Women’s Lacrosse

First off, I want to apologize for myself and on behalf of LaxAllStars for the controversy that the recent women’s roundtable article I wrote as part of my series called #TheGopherProject caused.

I in no way intended to slight the women’s sport or make it seem as though it was in any way less significant than the men’s game. I realize that the question that was posed and the way that the headline was phrased could have been perceived to imply that women’s lacrosse was somehow inferior or less developed. It was construed as implying that women’s lacrosse wasn’t enough and needed to be like the men’s sport. I’m sorry for how this turned out, and I know that Lacrosse All Stars certainly regrets that members of the lacrosse community would feel ostracized by a platform that has historically been one of the most inclusive lacrosse outlets in terms of coverage across the men’s and women’s versions of the sport. Neither I or anyone at the company intended to alienate anyone and to question the legitimacy of the women’s sport.

In fact, my focus was quite the opposite.

My purpose in forming these women’s roundtable discussions with stringers of women’s lacrosse heads and representatives of women’s manufacturers was to actually help provide coverage for and give attention to women’s lacrosse and its recent rules changes. I wanted the roundtables to address topics that may not be getting the proper coverage that they deserve. Seeing as most of the focus in lacrosse media is slanted towards the men’s game, I wanted to provide insight into trending topics in the women’s game. In this series that involved both women’s lacrosse head stringers and representatives from the women’s side of lacrosse manufacturers in two different series of articles, we have covered topics like ‘What is the future of women’s head technology?’ and ‘What limitations will the new women’s lacrosse equipment rules have?’ We’ve had panelists that include well-known women’s stringers such as Robin Brown, Katie Facciola and women’s lacrosse great Liz Hogan.

One of the complaints that I got about the most recent article I wrote was that there weren’t enough women’s representatives on the panel. First off, let me say that I certainly feel that women’s lacrosse naturally needs plenty of women’s voices guiding the direction of the sport and the rules that are entailed. However, when we put together this panel of representatives of lacrosse manufacturers, it just so happened that the majority of them were men. I appreciated their valuable insight into the women’s lacrosse gear industry, but we do realize that women’s voices were lacking for the second part of the series. When we reached out to these manufacturers specifically about women’s equipment, their chosen representatives happened to be men. Regardless, I would love to hear more voices from the women’s game and what they have to say about the sport. I know that the folks at LaxAllStars feel the same. If you’re interested in writing about the women’s game for the Lacrosse All Stars website, send an inquiry to this email address and someone would be happy to work with you.

When I first designed the series, it was supposed to be two separate articles — one for the women’s stringers panel and one for the women’s lacrosse gear manufacturers panel. However, the higher-ups at LaxAllStars decided that we should turn it into a series for each panel. This may have helped contribute to having my overall goal of recognizing the women’s sport and its issues end up becoming more difficult to paint a broader picture of as the series of articles were segmented.

That was unfortunately combined with the fact that the final piece of the series, the one that people responded on social media to a few days ago, was meant to explore the changes in women’s head technology, but didn’t exactly get presented as would have been appropriate. Given the recent changes to head technology in the women’s sport, as well as other changes like the addition of helmets in the last few years, I thought it would be interesting to ask the question about how some of these changes — of which the new rules share elements of the men’s game — compared to the men’s sport.

So, let me address this question, how it was presented and then perceived. First off, I personally believe that the women’s sport can and should be completely self-sufficient from the men’s game. Women’s lacrosse is a beautiful sport, one that my daughters have participated in. That being said, given the fact that women’s lacrosse has recently adopted changes to its rules that are similar to men’s rules, I think, would lend itself to the question of what other changes we will see in the women’s sport, and whether those will also be similar to the men’s game. Again, I don’t think that the women’s game should turn into the men’s sport. I in no way expressed any opinion that should be the case. But, to me it seems like a logical question to ask. The men’s field game is also not inherently the “correct” version of the sport that other versions need to be compared to. The fact that it is also seeing a wide range of rules changes across various levels should reinforce that the men’s version of the game is also very open to change and new ideas.

Now, I get that some people may find the very fact that I asked that question offensive. As I mentioned, it was not and has never been my intention to offend anyone or take anything away from women’s lacrosse. I know that I personally, and everyone on the Lacrosse All Stars team, like its CEO Jeff Brunelle, personally feel that the men’s game has a lot to learn from the women’s game. Really, if you look at things like the implementation of the shot clock in the men’s college game, those changes can be traced back to the women’s sport implementing those rules first at that level. This is a nuanced thing as box lacrosse has had the shot clock for a long time and the MLL was using it for well over a decade. Women’s lacrosse athletes have many skills and abilities that most men’s players could only dream of having. The fact of the matter is, I could very easily ask the same question about whether the men’s game could change to be more like the women’s game, which would undoubtedly outrage a lot of the men’s players while drawing praise from supporters of women’s lacrosse. Unfortunately, people seem to be a bit sensitive about drawing comparisons between the two sports. Personally, I feel that instead of being defensive about keeping both genders separate, maybe instead we should be considering how each version of the sport can learn from the other.

Now, I get that equality in women’s sports is certainly a hot topic right now. Unfortunately, there have been numerous accounts of unfairness such as the U.S. women’s soccer team being paid far less than their incredibly underperforming male counterparts. Then, there’s similar issues in the WNBA where the top women’s basketball players in the world are making fractions of what the men’s players are bringing in. It’s tragic, and I can see why given the current climate in sports that my question struck a nerve. For that, I am sorry, and realize that it probably was not in good taste. Personally, I would love to see women’s sports — especially women’s lacrosse — garner the same respect and influence in a heavily male-dominated sports world that it rightly deserves. Next time I try to draw comparisons between the men’s and women’s versions of lacrosse, I will be sure to be careful and sensitive to the feelings of those that play both versions of the sport.

Once the responses started coming in on social media, I was instantly filled with regret for how a series that I hoped would be positive towards women’s lacrosse was perceived. It was never my intention, nor anyone at Lacrosse All Stars to negatively portray women or women’s lacrosse. However, I see why people are upset. So, I would like to again apologize for how things happened.

Now, after all of this, I still would like to produce more roundtable discussions on women’s lacrosse. I’d like to make sure that women’s voices in the sport are being heard. Feel free to contact me to be a part of those future discussions — I can’t wait to see what you all have to say. As I mentioned, Lacrosse All Stars would love to have more women’s voices represented on its site, so please contact them at the email address I mentioned above.

I hope that we all can use this whole situation as a learning experience that will help move the game forward. It has brought up some good conversation on social media about issues in women’s lacrosse, and I hope that as I and LaxAllStars continues to cover the women’s game, that we can do so in a positive manner that fosters healthy discussion and can improve the sport as a whole — completely separate from any pressures to be like the men’s game.

Thanks,

Kevin Henry

#TheGopherProject

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