Lacrosse Needs A Beanpot Tournament
The Beanpot Hockey Tournament is a truly special annual sporting event and lacrosse needs something like to celebrate the college game and old rivalries in a true hotbed. Baltimore, with all of its amazing lacrosse programs, needs to create a Beanpot style tourney, but for lacrosse.
This move is a no-brainer, and would be the single easiest thing college lacrosse could do to add a little more oomph to the season. Sure, the teams might not love playing two games in 3 days, and it’s super Baltimore-centric, but, it would be good for any program that would participate, and ultimately, it would be really good for the game.
Hopkins-Loyola-Towson-and someone else like UMBC or Maryland. Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself here. You might need more convincing.
If you don’t know what the Beanpot is, it’s a small hockey tournament in Boston with big time implications. It’s called the Beanpot because people in Boston love beans. It’s true. BU, BC, Harvard, and Northeastern all play semifinal games, and then two more games (1st and 3rd) and whoever goes 2-0 wins the Beanpot. It’s nothing too crazy, but it makes people and fans in Boston turn into frothing mad dogs for college hockey. But in a good way. Still asking what’s the big deal with four hockey games? Please allow me to quickly set the scene.
Growing up in Boston, where hockey is wicked important (with parents who went to BU for grad school), we went to the Beanpot any year we could find tickets, and the rivalry atmosphere at these games was like nothing I had ever experienced as a young sports fan. I had been to a couple pro basketball, hockey, baseball, and football games, as well as a college football game or two, but none of that came anywhere close to approaching what happened in those stinky hockey rinks. Seriously, not even close.
The Beanpot venues were always packed. The crowd was never there just to “watch”, they were there to cheer, and jeer, and do so loudly from before the game started right through the very end. Everyone from 12 year old kids (me) to old ladies were screaming the whole game. It was unreal. The chants of “SIEVE! SIEVE! SIEVE! SIEVE!” after a BU goal was scored will eternally echo in my mind. It sounded like there were 70,000 people yelling in my brain. In reality there were less than 10,000 and we were in a hockey rink, but that’s how loud it was. I was hooked. This was hands down my favorite sporting event in the world. It made me want to play hockey, and it showed me how much the Boston community cared about the sport.
It was, and is, so special because it is all so personal.
These four schools are all in the same city (BC is in Newton and Harvard is in Cambridge, BUT WHATEVER), and local bragging rights are very much on the line. It matters deeply to the fan bases of every single school, and for those in the city without a team, it pulls them in as the Beanpot is something they must see. The whole city is about it, and it elevates college hockey in Boston annually, exposing new potential fans to the game.
Baltimore do this with college lacrosse, and it could be glorious.
Our very own version of the Beanpot tournament could be held with ease. They can call it the Crabpot, or not. That is up to the people of Baltimore. But whatever the name is, there NEEDS to be an early season tourney in Baltimore, where there is a trophy, and a commitment from these teams to play in this event each and every year. It is also something that needs to be done on the men’s AND women’s sides, and if it’s done right, it could get the whole city and the lacrosse community in the best kind of tizzy.
Listen, any BU-BC anything is going to be a big game, no matter what the sport or stage. To think otherwise would be downright outrageous, and might get you punched in the face for even thinking it in Boston. But a BU-BC Beanpot game is absolutely next level. And we can have this in college lacrosse… especially in Baltimore. Maybe without the face punching, but still… Hopkins-Loyola and the Charles Street Rivalry is huge already, and while the rivalry is real, imagine if the game ALSO involved deciding who was going to be the OFFICIAL Baltimore University Champion? Doesn’t that make it just a little bigger? Add in Towson, and you’re at 3. UMBC is only 8 miles away from downtown Baltimore, so that makes a lot of sense, but Maryland is also only 30 miles away, and that’s not a bad option either. Maybe the Crabpot would be enough for Morgan State to add lacrosse again? I don’t know, but it can’t hurt!
Ok, you must be starting to see how this could be awesome, let’s get to some details!
Key Crabpot Details
Sure, some of the coaches might not love a Friday-Sunday schedule, so I’m open to changing that to a Wednesday-Sunday, or Tuesday-Saturday set up. Whatever these guys need to get on board, I’m open to it. Work it out and I’m on board. Crabpot.
Coaches might also balk at not knowing one of their opponents until the semifinals are done, but they would know it was one of two other teams, so it’s not that bad. Work it out and I’m board. However you want guys. Up to you! Crabpot.
An early season vs mid-season debate could also crop up. Again, I don’t care how it gets done, just make it happen. Crabpot.
There is a clear theme here, and that is this – I don’t care what needs to happen to make this happen. I just want to see it happen. Crabpot.
If Baltimore won’t do it, then Boston should just do it again for lacrosse with BU, Harvard, UMass-Lowell (close enough) and Tufts, or UMASS Amherst because why not? Or something like that. Invite a D3 team in town, or go for a state championship model. Respect the trend, and buck the trend, just be awesome. BU is a great venue for lacrosse, right in Boston. How about NYC/Long Island? Hofstra, Stony Brook, St. John’s, and Wagner or Manhattan. Rotate the venues or hold it in NYC at Columbia. Or Syracuse could do it at the Dome, or PA or… someone. Someone needs to do this for lacrosse somewhere. Please? It’s going to be amazing, and 10 years down the road you (not I) will be looked on as a genius. Take the credit, please!
One More Beanpot-ish Example
Still not convinced? Here’s a final example of what I’m talking about where passion for great rivalries and games can be built up to even higher levels – The Little Three championship between Wesleyan, Amherst, and Williams.
When I played in college, Amherst, Williams, and Wesleyan were not exactly national title contenders. And this is D3 NESCAC lacrosse we’re talking about, so it’s not like thousands of people are lining up to get into games. All three programs were good back in the day, and had some great years, but this was the early 2000s and Middlebury was still king, with Salisbury right there next to them. HOWEVER, we always knew that we would have at least two games on our schedule each year where fans would absolutely fill the bleachers and sidelines, and those were the Little Three games.
(That’s Paul Malangone, not me. He was actually good!)
These were the games alumni came back to the schools to see. These were the games kids at all 3 schools would go to if they went to only one game each year. Regardless of your record, regardless of what happened the year before, or who “should” win, these were the games you circled on the schedule during preseason. We won the Little Three outright twice while I was there, and tied for two more. I never went to the NCAAs as a player, so maybe winning those Little Three titles means more to me than it should, but we did something in four years that no Wesleyan team had ever done before, and I truly believe it helped keep our program heading in the right direction. 3 years later we made the NCAA quarterfinals, so maybe it did.
None of it mattered to anyone else in D3, or even within the NESCAC. But it mattered to us, and it mattered to the kids at our schools way more than most of our games did (In my day that was usually a big zero for most games). It mattered to alumni, and professors or staff who never came to games even made it out to Little Three contests.
The point is that these events and small tournaments can elevate even the most important games for ANY program, and if that helped a couple D3 teams jump to the next level, what exactly is there to hate about this idea for D1, and some of the most historic programs our game has?
There’s really nothing to hate!
Maybe you’ve got a counter argument, if so then drop it in the comments, but otherwise, the not yet formed Crabpot seems like settled science, and it needs to happen ASAP.