One small step for lacrosse, one giant leap for club guys. This is awesome exposure for Liberty, West Virginia, the MCLA and its greatest conference: the SELC. We are pumped up for this, we will tune in and we will root our asses off for WVU.
There are MCLA games streaming every week now, which is great. It allows high school kids who are thinking about going the club route to see it live and understand that there really is some competitive lacrosse going on outside of the NCAA. This game is the first ever non-varsity lacrosse game on the ESPN family of networks and it will likely have the largest streaming audience of a regular season club game.
These are the positives. But why would ESPN broadcast club lacrosse?
According to an op-ed on the MCLA site, Liberty did all the heavy lifting to make this happen. Props to them for using their massive operating budget to advance the sport. But then the article goes off the rails. Essentially the writer (Jac Coyne – Director of External Affairs – MCLA) says that Liberty is a model program because they promote themselves better than clubs like our beloved alma mater, (an MCLA program where everyone pays out of pocket and it’s a stretch to match helmets and quadruple up at the Holiday Inn Express). Coyne suggests that other clubs should “tweet less and start following Liberty’s lead.” Nice point, guy. Go tell that to UGA.
Coyne also states, “Nearly as important is McQuillan’s interaction with his on-campus AV department – something that exists on every MCLA campus – making it as easy as possible for broadcasts to happen.” Hey Jac, have you ever been the President of an MCLA program? No, you haven’t. It’s not that easy to get the AV Department that “exists on every MCLA campus” to come and broadcast games. You need resources, you need technology, you need aspiring broadcast journalism students, but more importantly, you need disposable cash to pay those students and the production. Liberty happens to have all of the above because they aren’t like the rest of us.
But what made my blood really boil was how this article credits HC Kyle McQuillan (a full-time employee at Liberty working in their “Club Sports” department) on maintaining a higher level of “character.” Well, I’m throwing a flag on that one, man. I was there in that dump known as Lynchburg the morning after Halloween for a meaningless fall ball game where Liberty’s high “quality and character” young men threw cheap shot after cheap shot and talked trash in ways good Christian boys are not supposed to. So you’ll have to excuse me for skipping their sanctimonious prayer circle after the game.
The reasons why Liberty was able to make this happen are the same reasons why the rest of club lacrosse despises them. They’re not one of us. Their school props them up and pumps money into the program, giving them their own turf field, their own locker rooms and even access to an indoor facility. They aren’t even a “Virtual Varsity” program like many of the MCLA’s elite. Not to mention their campus is dry, which, let’s be honest, should disqualify you from MCLA participation (I’m only half joking). But most importantly, they operate like a real varsity program. And they still lose.
MCLA lacrosse exists so that lacrosse players can attend their dream schools and continue playing the game they love. So they can strike a balance between sport, school and socializing. So they can experience all that college has to offer. West Virginia embodies this. Liberty not so much. The MCLA has done a great job at removing programs with such benefits the Flames has, ie all the NAIA schools, who too would often get shellacked by “Virtual Varsity” programs.
I have nothing against Liberty for their devout Christianity. And if you want to go there because they take lacrosse more seriously than other schools, fine by me. But they act so self-righteously, so entitled, that it puts a smile on my face when they lose to teams like South Carolina, a team with a bunch of MIAA alums who would rather tailgate SEC football games than put in 20 hours a week at NCAA DIII powers like Stevenson and Denison.
Club lacrosse is all about choices. Plenty of guys who could have played varsity college lacrosse but they instead pick a school they like more than the places that recruited them. Others choose to attend an evangelical school in southern VA. There’s nothing wrong with either as long as you follow your heart. And hopefully you don’t act like a prick when you get there.
All this being said, I encourage everyone to tune in. But make no mistake, regardless of the outcome on the scoreboard, it’s always better to be a West Virginia-type club than Liberty.