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Archive for June 2, 2019

June 2, 2019 — The blessing (and curse) of a big boost

This weekend has seen start of play in the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League in Foxborough, Mass. There was a single game yesterday to finish off a doubleheader in the Premier Lacrosse League, then today’s game between the WPLL Fight and the WPLL Brave (like their brethren in the PLL, city names have been dropped).

The WPLL has partnered with the PLL, a multimillion-dollar effort to gain the kind of sponsorship and backing in order to make lacrosse a truly professional sport instead of a meagerly-paid hobby for its players on weekends.

The women’s league has also partnered with ESPN for streaming broadcasts over its ESPN3 platform, which means cable subscribers get to view those games without the ESPN+ paywall.

With TV partnerships as well as in-kind help from the PLL, it seems to have driven interest away from the old United Women’s Lacrosse League. Not a single league-specific Twitter statement or press release has been issued since the decision Jan. 11 to go to the proposed Olympic 6-v-6 rules on a six-man football field.

But if the TV and PLL partnership mean the consolidation of two women’s leagues into one, the apparent winner now has a lot of responsibility weighing on its shoulders. With national and global reach possible, there’s going to be a movement to extend the WPLL’s schedule and geographic footprint.

This year, league has five teams playing only six match weekends in a corridor between Richmond, Va. and Boston. Each of the sides plays just a four-game regular season.

In other words, it’s just like last year.

I think, for the WPLL to thrive going forward, the season is going to have to go far afield of where it is currently playing. There’s going to have to be matchdays in Chicago, the Carolinas, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Utah, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

And I think the season is going to have to be somewhere between 10 and 14 games per team, so that the league starts after Memorial Day and ends just after Labor Day.

For that to happen, there’s going to have to be the kind of backing that the Rabil brothers have brought into the PLL. Lacrosse people are hoping the WPLL can do the same.