By now, you’ve seen the announcement that the PLL is planning to return on July 25th with a season that will be condensed into a two week tournament. This is really exciting news not just for lacrosse fans, but sports fans in general. After taking a day to digest the information, here are some thoughts:
First League To Announce A Definitive Return
Outside of Korean Baseball, and some European Soccer Leagues, lacrosse is the first U.S. team/contact sport to set an official return date. With so many postponements and so much uncertainty, this is undoubtedly a positive. It’s kind of cool that lacrosse was the first sport to set a definitive date and let the sports world know it means business. I’ll touch more on this later, but it’s also a lot easier for a small league like the PLL to return than one of the Big Four.
For now, it’ll be nice to circle July 25th on our calendar.
Brody, Shears, and I chatted the other day about how important it was for the PLL to do something, in some capacity, this year. Financially, it was hard to see an upstart league in its second year staying above water if they couldn’t play their second season. We all saw the XFL take a nosedive – who’s to say the PLL would be any different? This announcement is a breath of fresh air for not only the PLL and its fans, but the league sponsors as well.
If you haven’t seen it already, here’s the PLL’s video of the Rabil brothers outlining how this thing will work:
– I’ve seen this floated around Twitter a bit, but my mind first went, as it always seems to when it comes to professional lacrosse, to the players with full time jobs outside of lacrosse. After interning with the Cannons of the MLL and seeing a player miss a game because he couldn’t get away from his day job in New York, I’ve always looked at things like this through a different lens. So, how are guys with 9 to 5’s, Monday through Friday, going to be able to get away for two weeks and just focus on lacrosse? It’ll be interesting to see if this significantly impacts a player’s ability to participate. Obviously, you hope it doesn’t, but it’s unfortunately something we still have to ask when it comes to pro lacrosse.
– Where will this #LaxIsland (as it’s being referred to) take place? I’ve seen it speculated that the league is looking at locations in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, or Midwest. Call me crazy, but I feel like putting as much distance between you and the Northeast is a good idea. Who knows what the COVID situation will look like in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey come July. So, maybe a state like North Carolina, or Tennessee makes sense. Sure, these aren’t hotbed lacrosse areas, but since there will be no fans in attendance that shouldn’t matter. Which brings me to…
– Viewership. This is what I’m most excited about. Rabil (Paul) announced that the games will be taking the television spot that was previously held by the Olympics. This means daytime, weekday lacrosse, baby! With 20 games being broadcast over 15 days all across NBC platforms, these games are likely to attract an unprecedented viewership for the sport. Of the 20 games, just a handful are being shown behind the NBC Gold paywall, so this means any casual sports fan flipping channels can stumble upon the product. I don’t think it can be overstated how huge that is for the sport.
– Very quick side-note here, but not having to wait a week between games, like last summer, will be really cool. “Wow, that Redwoods – Chaos game was a thriller. Can’t wait to run it back tomorrow.”
Don’t Take It For Granted
I touched on this earlier, but I think it’s really important to emphasize just how nice it is that professional lacrosse has the ability to do something like this. Rabil (Paul) mentioned that with everyone present on #LaxIsland, from players and coaches to medical personnel and beyond, there are still fewer than 300 people needed to make this all happen. That is simply not possible for a Big Four sport. You’ve heard the rumors of the NBA and NHL trying to find a way to resume their seasons, and it sounds like a logistical nightmare. The MLB has been rumored to be using completely new divisions or neutral site locations. Nobody knows anything for sure. What we do know is that lacrosse has a guaranteed return date and it’s in the year 2020. Hallelujah.