Last Saturday, the University of Georgia club lacrosse team’s run in the SELC tournament came to a disappointing end. Despite this setback, the Bulldog laxers were able to post an impressive 13-3-1 record for the season*. The success of the club team’s 2012 campaign, coupled with the sport’s rapid expansion at the high school level throughout the state, has led me to believe that now is the time to make lacrosse the University of Georgia’s 20th varsity sport. I understand that there are issues with the athletic department funding another nonrevenue sport, and there is always the looming presence of Title IX with which to contend. However, those are discussions for another day. I only wish to write about the merits of the game.
I know many of you think of lacrosse as a game played by a bunch of well-to-do yankee children, but lacrosse is actually America’s oldest sport. We know that the Native Americans were playing some version of the game as early as 1100A.D., and it played an integral role in their culture for hundreds of years. Tribes would sometimes engage in large-scale lacrosse games as a surrogate for war. The Creeks and Cherokees were known to play as a means of settling territorial disputes.
The game’s popularity continued even after European settlers arrived in the New World. In fact, lacrosse was so popular that it was banned in many areas of the South due in part to the adverse effect games had on church attendance. Lacrosse is truly ingrained in America’s history, and it is the only sport played in our country that doesn't have a European analog. If you don’t like lacrosse or think that it should be a varsity sport at UGA, I only have one question for you. Why do you hate America… comrade?
Not only is the sport quintessentially American, but it’s just downright fun to watch and play. It’s fast-paced, high-scoring, and it’s full-contact. In short, it’s like hockey without everything we southerners hate about hockey. That means there’s no ice, and it isn’t played by a bunch of guys who punctuate every sentence with the word "eh." I mean c’mon! It’s a sport where a bunch of guys run around and hit each other with metal sticks. That's just good, clean entertainment. Isn’t that the kind of sport you want to see at your alma mater?
Perhaps, the most important factor to consider is that, given time, the University of Georgia could excel in Division I lacrosse. Currently, there are only two schools in the South, Jacksonville and Mercer, with Division I lacrosse programs**. With UGA’s size and brand, it would be possible to corner the market on recruiting in our region. While the level of play in Georgia and the rest of the Southeast is not yet on par with that of the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast, our state does have some very good programs that have been able to hold their own against some of the better high school programs in the country. Lovett, Harrison, and Lassiter immediately spring to mind. It is also important to consider the fact that there are currently only 61 Division I lacrosse programs in the NCAA. There are plenty of good high school players out there that simply aren’t recruited by most of the major lacrosse powers. If UGA were to go after the kids who fall through the cracks, it would be possible to build a solid base for the future. I’m not claiming that it wouldn’t take a good bit of time for a Georgia varsity lacrosse program to reach high levels of success, but the wait would be worth it. GO DAWGS!
*I’m operating under the assumption they don’t get an at-large bid to the MCLA tournament
**No, North Carolina and Virginia don’t count.