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Monday March 8, 2010 9:55 pm

National Lacrosse League: The bastard child of North American sport




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Editorial, NBA, NFL, NHL,

Mark SteenhuisHave you ever wondered what might happen if you combined football, basketball and hockey? You’d probably get lacrosse. The National Lacrosse League is a growing business in North America and with good reason; their brand of lacrosse mixes elements of other major North American sports with lacrosse to create an exciting on-field product that is attracting more and more fans each season. With 11 teams in the league and some of the most raucous crowds in attendance, the NLL is definitely something worth checking out.

Despite the floor surface, the NLL is most similar to the NHL. With most teams sharing arenas with their NHL counterparts, crowd-sizes are roughly the same. Each lacrosse team also plays five players and a goalie with shift changes. Fighting, body contact and penalties are all a part of the NHL. A large majority of the league’s players are also Canadian. The NLL also has a John Tavares; the uncle of the New York Islanders phenom. The biggest difference between the two sports is the speed of the game, as clearly the ice-bound players are much faster, but are also more prone to lack of control.

From basketball and football, the NLL has taken things like a play clock/shot clock (30 seconds), four quarters (15 minutes each) with an extended half-time break, and even cheerleaders who come out between quarters. Like basketball, there is a “backcourt” violation, and music is constantly played during the course of the game. Football’s comparisons include the facemask penalty as well as the fifteen minute sudden death overtime period when a game is tied at the end of regulation.

The NLL clearly has several hurdles to leap. Many of its players have day jobs to help pay the bills, and the League does not have a decent television contract to help grow the game. The League is still looking to expand considerably, but a weak economy and a lack of arena availability may stall plans to grow. However, the energy inside an NLL building is high and long-term fans are among the most dedicated in sports. Despite the borrowed elements from other sports, the NLL has truly developed an identity of its own.

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