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Greenville 2013: Don’t Get Pissed, Just Fix It

I was fortunate enough to be invited down to Greenville, SC to be a color commentator this past week for the first two rounds of the 2013 MCLA Championships. I arrived in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday and immediately immersed myself amongst the other commentators, coaches, and everyone else affiliated with the MCLA. Several of the people I knew, several more I didn’t, and overall it was an incredible opportunity to be a part of.

As an MCLA product myself, I really appreciate the opportunities that the league has given me. I’ve been a player, coach, captain, treasurer, VP, team president, and at the end of the day I’ve been able to see many of the different facets of the MCLA, and what it takes to run a team and a league. I have never had the opportunity to go to Nationals though, so I was very excited to add another notch to the belt in being a commentator at the tournament.

When I wasn’t commentating (and even while I was), I tried to soak up every part of the experience that I could. How I would feel as a player, coach, fan, etc., and I was well aware of the criticism coming from the peanut gallery via Twitter and other social media outlets.

What it comes down to is this:

It’s easy to pick something apart when you can only see it at face value, or sometimes when you can’t see it at all. Knowing that a current MCLA coach at the tournament also had a few things to say caught my attention though, and really compelled me to share my own feelings on the tournament.

Below you will find my opinions on the tournament, and some responses to things that have been said about the league. Please read the entire article before jumping to any conclusions on what my feelings may be about the tourney or league. To give full disclosure, the MCLA is reimbursing me for my trip down to Greenville. In commentating, I was working for them, but in no way, shape, or form does that obligate me to defend the MCLA.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have heard me mention writing something about ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Future of the MCLA‘, but the more I read around online, the more I became frustrated with what was being said, and I decided to change my tune.

First let’s start with some questions that I have:

If you weren’t AT the tournament, or coaching a team involved in the tournament, why would you spend all week publicly chastising the league you are a part of?

What good does that do for the league?

How does that help promote the league, or encourage people to be a part of it?

As part of the media, we are absolutely responsible for shedding light on both the good and bad in the lacrosse world, but as MCLA proponents, and even more importantly, ambassadors of this sport, we are also responsible for helping to spur on growth in the league and offer our hand in making it a better experience for all of those involved – NOT to simply tear it down with every chance we get.

But the live-streaming was terrible!

There was only one game that was completely lost due to issues with the live-streaming. I was actually set to commentate that game it and let me say this: you didn’t miss much. Portions of 3-5 other games were lost as well due to bandwidth and tower sharing issues. I think the biggest issues with the live-streaming was during the very intense Chapman vs. Oregon 4 OT thriller when the stream went out in the 2nd OT, and then the issues during the semifinal game between CSU and BYU.

This absolutely stinks, there is no question about it, but to let this ruin the tournament for yourself is just plain old dumb. Live streams of games cut out all the time. That’s part of the fun when relying on the internet to broadcast a game. One of the D3 Playoff games cutout this past weekend, as did one of the MLL games. It happens at all levels, so why was there such a stink about the MCLA operation? Heck, I could even mention how the lights at the Super Bowl went out this past year. Things go wrong all the time.

At the WOU/SJU game that was not broadcast, we had a dad come up to us asking for updates throughout the game. He wasn’t mad, nor were the parents back home. They understood that things like that happen and were really out of the control of the MCLA at that point.

I’ve heard several people ask about why TLN didn’t get the bid and how crazy it was that they didn’t. Before I caught wind of this, I inquired about it myself as both Samir and Colin are former MCLA guys themselves and have been killing it on the live-streaming front. It is not my place to say why they weren’t chosen but I can assuredly say that after hearing more, I completely understand why the MCLA didn’t go that direction.

Well they could’ve just paid for the TV presence and not had to deal with this.

True, but how many people got the Fox Sports channels on their TV in the past years when they went that route? I sure didn’t. One of the phrases I heard stated several times by key MCLA’ers throughout the weekend was that, “the MCLA should own their own product.” In that, they mean press releases, scores, and coverage of the MCLA should be BY the MCLA and released on the MCLA website. The league is trying to grow and increase their offering to new teams, and not trying to compete at the NCAA level.

To further grow, it makes complete sense to offer coverage of the games to as many people as possible. As TLN has shown through their own coverage and growth, more and more people are tuning in to the web to find and watch live lacrosse. To offer up all 30 games on one website so everyone can tune in and watch was a great idea.

Did it work our perfectly? No. Did it ruin the event? Don’t make me laugh. That is ridiculous.

Not having an official MCLA Twitter at the event is inexcusable.

The other big issue everyone seemed to have with the tournament was the social media coverage. The MCLA twitter was quiet on day one, but after hearing all the people voice their frustration over it, the MCLA became very active with in-game updates and was actually double-timing it between fields two and three on the second day to keep tabs of both games and update those not able to watch the live stream.

The Twitter presence of the MCLA went from eight tweets on Monday to 80+ tweets on Tuesday and continued to post in-game updates as the week progressed. So the MCLA listened and stepped it up? Why harp on day one for the rest of the week, Twitterati?

Sirrine Stadium was a letdown.

It’s a field, in a stadium, so let’s call it a small victory. I watched all the semifinal games and both championships and not once did it look like the players were impacted by any of the “sand traps” on the field. I can’t help but think of something I tell my players all the time, worry about what you can control. Can the MCLA control whether or not Greenville keeps the field in top shape? Maybe? Odds are they can’t.

There was a lot of good at the tournament.

The player experience, the fan experience, the vendor village, help by those on-hand. All of these were very positive factors in the tournament.

This is a player’s league, and for the majority of the players there, it really sounded like everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves – no matter win or lose. As it is a player’s league, the MCLA should make their first priority to give the players the best experience possible. I felt they did a wonderful job at that. The fields were fantastic and had all the proper accommodations, there was no ‘off limits’ for teams and any players not playing a game were able to wander around and check out all the action. The vendor village in the center of the tournament was great and was heavily trafficked for the first two days.

The tournament experience as a whole for people in attendance was also great. I spoke with several parents and heard from several more, about how well the tournament was run and how much fun it was to watch. No one I heard from complained about their seating, the clocks, or anything of the sort. People really just enjoyed being able to watch great lacrosse for the entirety each day while in Greenville.

As the week progressed, in-game and post-game interviews were conducted, All-American honors were announced, and the players were able to gain some solid recognition for all of their hardwork and perseverance.

The future of the MCLA is bright.

The MCLA showed throughout the entirety of the tournament that they are listening and they want to better their offering to all the fans, players, and coaches of the league. As Paul Brown said, “You learn a line from a win, and a book from a defeat.”

Why pick a part every little thing that goes wrong with the tournament? Instead, why not celebrate the growth of the league in the Coast Guard Academy’s first trip to the national tournament? In Liberty’s semifinal appearance? In Colorado State’s undefeated season and back-to-back championship wins?

There was a lot of good at the MCLA Tournament this year. When people only focus on the negative of the league and pick apart every little thing they can find, they are doing a disservice to the league, everyone involved in it, and really the future of this sport with the MCLA.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for some good ole fashioned constructive criticism, but very rarely did I see any mention of a resolution or of someone trying to understand why these issues may have been occurring. The best part about all of these issues (yes, there is one), is that they were all preventable. Everyone involved can keep these in the front of their mind when planning for next year.

What I notice most though, is the MCLA’s reaction and response to all of these issues. They hear you, they’re listening, and it was clearly evident that changes were being made. I guarantee the MCLA enjoys having these issues hanging over their head as much as everyone else does having to experience them. I can’t help but think of something I tell my own players when something goes wrong on the field, don’t get pissed, just fix it.