The road to San Diego began with a Flight Tuesday at 12:45pm delayed about thirty minutes, landing on the west coast in late afternoon.
Wednesday I hit the gym, then the beach with my daughter. We found a little dive taco spot in La Jolla up from Windansea Beach for lunch and met Anish later in downtown La Jolla, where the houses come with sticker shock.
Welcome to San Diego : World Championships
The opening ceremonies began at 5pm in Snapdragon Stadium. To watch the 30 teams March onto the pitch from field level was inspiring. This event is global. Hong Kong, China, Uganda, Jamaica, Italy, Scotland, New Zealand, Poland, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and Peru. It’s a festival of all shapes and sizes.
The USA and Canada played on Wednesday night at 7pm local in front of a robust crowd on a gorgeous night.
The game didn’t live up to the hype.
Lacrosse is ascending. It’s the fastest growing sport of this generation – it’s fast paced, fan friendly, edgy, bold and trending. 86 nations currently play lacrosse. 30 are here in San Diego. North America’s original team sport is on the precipice of Olympic inclusion. That’s a huge news item and an exciting time to be along for the ride.
USA and Canada are stacked. These are Elite rosters with Hall-of-Fame caliber players, capable of delivering jaw dropping lacrosse.
USA and Canada are head and shoulders above the competition. The Haudenosaunee appear to be a clear cut third with the peloton seemingly more open after that. Japan is rising. England and Australia haven’t taken the next step. Israel seems ready to play with the big boys.
Teams are selected and built by coaching staffs. What matters in San Diego is the interaction. Player to player and player to coach. Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. Who can develop the winning culture in ten days?
The staff who can create a safer place, like a family of brothers, will allow the players to take more risks and to perform their roles at maximum capacity. Chemistry wins this.
This pool play game highlighted the weakness in the international rules. The game is allowed to be stagnant.
USA defeated Canada 7-5 in a game that set the sport back 20 years. International rules are archaic. I feel bad for the fans and athletes. USA and Canada players deserve better. The fans who tuned onto ESPN2 deserve better. This must be remedied. The game needs to be modernized. It was awful to watch the best two teams on the planet play a slow down style with limited play making and confrontations. This does the sport a disservice. We have to do better.
Let’s for a moment assume that the stats are accurate (which we know they aren’t – an entirely different issue – because the clearing numbers seem short changed). Canada had 5 goals on 12 possessions. USA had 7 goals on 20 possessions Canada made 2 saves.
USA won most of the face-offs with Trevor Baptiste and TD Ierlan in control and that proved to be the difference maker. 60 minutes of world class lacrosse and we get a limited selection of playmaking.
As we push for Olympic inclusion let’s keep in mind that the format of Olympic choice is field sixes. It’s not the collegiate, PLL or this international style of lacrosse.
I also realize that I must shift my expectations. We aren’t going to get 17-16 final scores with action packed games. The moments of brilliance will be more subtle, more nuanced and less frequent. I can fall in love with this style of lacrosse in the short term. I have to. Fall in love with this festival. Fall in love with the global growth. Fall in love with hope. Dive in and tell stories about fascinating players who share their love of this game. I can do that.
All 2023 World Lacrosse Championship games can be seen on E+. The Quarterfinal on Wednesday June 28 is televised live on ESPNU at 7pm. Both semifinals will be shown at 5pm and 8pm on Thursday June 29 on ESPN2. The 2023 Championship will be broadcast on Saturday July 1 at 4pm on ESPN2. Anish Shroff, Chris Cotter, Paul Carcaterra and I will have the assignment from SnapDragon Stadium. If you live in Southern California please come out in person and say hello.