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Feb. 14, 2019 — A counter-movement against billionaires?

Earlier this week, it was announced that Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland, had broken off negotiations with the NFL’s Washington Redskins to build a new stadium to replace the current FedEx Field, which was built in Landover in 1997 — only about 20 years ago.

Today, it was announced that Amazon would not be building a segment of its headquarters — codenamed HQ2, in Long Island City, N.Y. after local opposition led in part by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Time was, billionaires such as Daniel Snyder and Jeff Bezos could approach governments and demand all kinds of incentives — tax abatements, land giveaways, and such — and get them.

But infrastructure has become pricier ever since the original study on this subject by Andrew Zimbalist and Roger Noll. Indeed, entire societies have been lured by the promise of economic development, and have found themselves, for lack of a better word, fleeced.

Brazil, which held the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, now has a raft of sports stadiums which sit empty. It’s the latest country which saw its people shift its wealth to line the pockets of members of FIFA and the IOC’s cronies.

I’m so glad that Gov. Hogan and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez have shown courage and leadership against billionaire owners. I’m hoping this is just the start.

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Feb. 13, 2019 — Fighting cancer as well as for a place on the team

Good story today in the Shippensburg University student newspaper, The Slate about field hockey player Megan Hart, who has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia the last couple of years. It’s worth a read.

Feb. 12, 2019 — The Gentle-ladies of Verona

This week, it was reported that the town of Verona, N.J. would be having varsity field hockey for the first time in some 40 years.

When you look at Verona (pop. 13,332) on a map, you understand the challenges set before it. Within a stone’s throw of its borders are Montclair (N.J.), Montclair-Kimberley Academy, and North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.), three very successful field hockey programs of late.

Here’s the story from the Bergen Record.

Feb. 11, 2019 — A civic duty

Later this week, your Founder is going to take part in a necessary part of the American democracy.

Your Founder has been called into jury service.

I’m kind of glad it occurred in February, when there isn’t much in the way of field hockey or lacrosse on the scholastic level (South Carolina excepted). But as much of an inconvenience as the act of jury duty is, it’s something that is needed, to be able to fill out that jury of (more or less) 12 average citizens.

I haven’t been on a jury for about a decade; the last time was to convict an up-and-coming young athlete in a special drugs court for possession of crack cocaine.

I never got to know what happened in the sentencing phase of the trial. That was not under this jury’s purview. All we were supposed to do was to ascertain guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Years on, I do wonder if this particular judge was one of a number whose sentences have had to have been scrutinized or altered because of harsh sentencing for possession of crack as opposed to powder cocaine.

I wonder what will happen this week, too.

Feb. 10, 2019 — An alliance of insurgents

A couple of days ago, it was announced that the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League and the Premier Lacrosse League — with a combined one season of play between them — would be the conduits for supporting the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams’ developmental programs.

The WPLL, a five-team women’s travel league, came about when former U.S. international Michele DeJuliis left United Women’s Lacrosse to start another league, one which would ostensibly lead to growth and marketing opportunities for individual players.

The Premier Lacrosse League, a six-team traveling men’s league, has come about through former Major League Lacrosse all-timer Paul Rabil, who has attracted multimillion-dollar backing after his playing days with MLL ended in 2017.

The WPLL-PLL alliance is being handed the keys to the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP), a multi-stage trial system that will ultimately select teams for high school-aged boys and girls on a nationwide basis. It is a setup which kind of reminds you of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, or the National Futures Tournament in field hockey.

But, with just one season of play between the WPLL and PLL, will the expertise to run a youth national team program exist within the current framework of either sponsoring league? I’m sure the players can come together to create a structure for coaching the players in the NTDP, but I’ll be interested to see if all of that financial backing coming into the PLL will support senior and junior play in the long term. After all, it took just one year for the original Women’s United Soccer Association to burn through $40 million.

There’s one part of the press release that requires unpacking:

With the International Olympic Committee granting provisional recognition to the Federation of International Lacrosse, this partnership lays the groundwork for who could represent the U.S. on the largest stage that the sport has ever seen.

This tells me that U.S. Lacrosse is staking a lot of its capital — both dollars and political capital — on making lacrosse an Olympic sport. I think you’re going to see Olympic rules for any and all games within the PLL-WPLL-NTDP umbrella, which makes things especially interesting on the women’s side, where a lot of players will have to get used to the idea of filling a lineup with nine outfielders instead of 11.

Will it work?

All I know is that U.S. Lacrosse could have chosen to work with two organizations with 21 seasons’ worth of professional playing experience. And didn’t.

 

Feb. 9, 2019 — Making the adjustment

When the No. 2 women’s lacrosse team in the country makes a change in its home ground, it’s notable. And, frankly, worth an in-depth look as to why.

The University of Maryland opens its season today against George Mason in the cavernous confines of its football stadium. Capital One Field is carpeted with rubber-crumb infill, and the lacrosse goals are set 100 yards apart.

Compare that with Maryland’s usual home, The Lacrosse & Field Hockey Complex (yep, we call it that during the spring). It’s a bandbox of a field with the goals a mere 96 yards apart, and the competition surface is short-grain artificial turf.

This spring, that turf is scheduled to be replaced, which not only changes the spring plans for field hockey, but it gives the Maryland laxers the opportunity to play on a pitch with the exact dimensions of what will be played during the national semifinals and finals at Towson University, just up the road from the University of Maryland. Unitas Stadium, host of the Final Four, is also an artificial grass stadium, and the goals are 100 yards apart.

This isn’t the first time that a lacrosse team has changed its home field — either in mid-season, or to be better-prepared for the NCAA Tournament. I remember back in the winter of 2002, the NCAA website did not have any indication of exactly which venue at Princeton University would be hosting the Division I Tournament in the spring. It was only about seven weeks before the Final Four that it was determined that the expansive grass pitch at Princeton Stadium would host the championship, rather than the much smaller 1952 Stadium.

These days, with the rectangular hard boundary that has been in force for the last dozen or so years, the adjustments between different competition surfaces has not been as difficult in the past; there have been times when lacrosse teams have had to deal with football goalposts and pole-vault pits in the days without the hard boundary.

But Maryland’s change in their home ground is an intentional action, and the missing four yards in the midfield, I think, is going to make a difference in the way this team prepares and executes.

 

 

Feb. 8, 2019 — The start of a difficult road

Today, around 3 p.m. Eastern time, the same ritual will take place in North Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and under the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

It is in these locations where an umpire will stand next to a pair of lacrosse players with their sticks in a ready position, place the ball in the upper third of their sticks, back away, and blow a whistle.

The Division I women’s lacrosse season will begin, and the season begins with a weekend cavalcade of games from coast to coast.

One game, however, jumps out immediately: a matchup between Final Four teams James Madison and North Carolina tomorrow at 3 p.m.

There are others that bear watching this weekend, including tonight’s tilt between Denver and Stanford as well as Saturday’s early game between Virginia and the U.S. Naval Academy. Navy was within a goal of winning itself a Final Four berth a year ago, but could not stop Megan Whittle and the University of Maryland in a taut, tough quarterfinal.

Enjoy the games, folks. The road to Unitas Stadium begins now.