I am always conflicted when I go to a sporting event that isn’t one of the four major sports (Basketball, Football, Hockey, and sadly Baseball). Part of me wants to so badly get into the event, but no matter what, it is always in my mind that I am watching an inferior product. Take soccer for example, while not a diehard soccer fan, I am someone that plays it and watches some Premier League. When I went to see a Red Bull vs. NYCFC game, it is kind of obvious the players, while amazing and significantly better then me, are not the best in the game. I’m sure the players would agree, if offered the chance to play for Liverpool they would leave in a second. New leagues struggle from lack of legacy/history whatever you want to call it. The fans don’t have any skin in the game, they aren’t lifelong fans and while it is nice to see your local team win, in the end Instagram won’t be flooded with videos of people freaking out and chucking their TV’s out the window.
What NYCFC had was an awesome fan-friendly experience. There is a dedicated fan section that while not humungous is not tiny, and those knock-off hooligans made it really hard not to enjoy the game. Will I ever watch the MLS on TV? Hell no. But those games are an absolute blast to go too, the fans are really into it and the organization does a fantastic job of keeping the crowd engaged. That whole playing in Yankee Stadium thing is a nightmare though. The field looks like its hobbled together five minutes before they open the gates. Looks utterly ridiculous. Kind of hard to have your league be taken seriously when you play on grass/turf Frankenstein hybrid field.
With that aside out of the way, the PLL has some of its own challenges. The first major one is that it is a new league looking to challenge Major League Lacrosse (the MLL). The MLL isn’t great, it suffers from the same problems the MLS has, except with an even smaller fan base then soccer has. But it is the established pro league. That is not to say that there shouldn’t be a challenger, but there is definitely not room enough for two pro lacrosse leagues, without even including the indoor lax league. I mean football couldn’t even make it work with the AAF. I watched two seconds of that shit and it was god awful.
The amount of people that are even aware of what a lacrosse game looks already is a major factor to building a leagues popularity. It seems like the PLL is trying some new things to garner some eyeballs, but will that be enough? Even if a league can gain a consistent viewership, are there enough lax fans to have a league turn a profit? If I was a hardcore journalist I would research the answer. But I am not.
Gut feeling is no.
That being said, on Saturday I went to go watch some Premier League Lacrosse. I was going to say I went to the watch the New York Whatever’s buttttttt they don’t have city names, instead they are like club names. The team names are great, you got the Whipsnakes, Redwoods, Chrome, Atlas, Archers, and of course the Chaos. I guess you can just pick a team and root for them. The way they do this is all the teams play over a weekend in one location, the first week they were at Gillet Stadium, last weekend they played at Red Bull Arena.
It was the fact they were playing at Red Bull Arena that made me go. As a Hobokian, it’s an easy PATH ride to the stadium. The Saturday ticket was a double-header, I only stayed for the first game which was the Chrome against the Whipsnakes. I got to say, walking in I was a little hesitant, the problem with pro lax is that there are a lot of kids, as my girlfriend astutely observed, it looked like a Barney concert. A little harsh, but to be fair I think Barney brings a bigger crowd. That purple fucker can move a crowd.
I will say the crowd size was disappointing, not a great showing at all. I don’t know the official numbers so I don’t want to hazard a guess, but man that place was empty. That did mean I could move seats, but overall that is not a good thing for a new league. Seemed like there was some kind of pre-game festivities, but nothing crazy. Crowd size is not surprising, the arena is really in bum fuck Jersey, far enough away from an actual lacrosse fan-base in Long Island to discourage parents with no way to entertain their children to make the hour or two drive to go see a game. Especially when the New York Lizards play at Hofstra.
I swear she was watching. My mouth was agape at all the awesome action
As for the game itself, there was certainly a shitload of talent on the field. Household names like Matt Rambo and Matt Danowski and all those other household names were out there putting in work. I did enjoy the rules, the 52 second shot clock and the two-point line added some speed and excitement to the game. But it was pretty obvious, especially towards the end of the game, that they have not had much practice with each other. I mean all these guys have played for major programs and are beyond talented, but some of the stuff was a little sloppy. They let the boys hit though. Overall I had a good time, the game went to overtime and that got me really hyped and into it. I seemed to be the only one hyped except for two bros sitting by themselves shirts off catching some sun. Gotta get that tan going. Would I go again? Probably not unless I was given tickets. I heard the broadcast for it is cool, like the players are mic’ed up. But I didn’t hear them at the stadium so that’s a wash. Also the ball is neon. There is that.
I wanted to save the end of this blog for the FOGO guy on the Chrome, Connor Farrell. This guy was amazing I think he was like 10 of 12 on face-offs. The only one he really lost was when he went to scoop a ball with one hand because he was too lazy to bend and scoop the ball properly. He’s built like a guy who is going to lose a ground ball because he’s too lazy. It seriously looks like he just rolls of the couch and goes out there. When he wins the groundball, he just flicks it from random release points to his teammates. Its glorious. If he doesn’t have a direct line to his teammate, he just chucks it to the ground in front of them. Can’t be bothered with running to get space. Love this guy.
Looked up what his actual stats were, 11-12. Am I observant or what?