Men vs Women: An Uphill Lacrosse Game
Women have come a long way from the nineteenth century standards, women worked hard in order to allow the women today to be able to participate in every aspect of life that men can. However, like any idea or law put into practice, nothing starts out perfect and there are still kinks to work out. For instance, women have been able to get more involved in sports as the years changed, but are still not at the same level as men. Due to this unequal treatment of women, sports organizations and media have been under justified fire about the unfair treatment of genders and lack of female representation in televised sports. Women in sports have constantly fought to be represented and respected by not only their male counterparts but the world as a whole.
Men on the other hand have plenty of representation and screen time. They have more viewers when their games are on TV, and they are given more opportunities to compete. In general, lacrosse has grown in popularity in recent years for both genders, and the women’s college NCAA championship has even drawn more viewers. In 2017 Matt Hamilton reported in Lacrosse Has Untapped Potential as TV Sport, ESPN Producer Says, that in “the [2017 NCAA] women’s lacrosse championship game between Maryland and Boston College drew 88,000 viewers on TV and streaming… the men’s lacrosse semifinals and final had an average (260,000).” Men have a high rating when it comes to televised games as well as in person audiences. If this is the case, men’s lacrosse is clearly the prefered version to watch. Their games are evidently more entertaining to the general public since they involve more physical contact and have more flow to them.
Striking a player, also known as body checking, is frequently used during games as well as crosse checking also known as stick checking. Of course, like any game there is a limit of how much contact is allowed: “Body checking of an opponent in possession of the ball or within 5 yards of a loose ball, from the front or side above the waist and below the neck, is legal… A player may check his opponent’s crosse with his own crosse when that opponent has possession of the ball, when the opponent is within 5 yards of a loose ball or when the ball in flight is within 5 yards of the player,” found in the 2019 and 2020 NCAA MEN’S LACROSSE RULES AND INTERPRETATIONS (A. Supergan, Ed.). NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION by the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee. Men’s crosse checking is very lenient when it comes to contact between crosses, which is defined as a player may “check his opponent’s crosse with his own crosse when that opponent has possession of the ball, when the opponent is within 5 yards of a loose ball or when the ball in flight is within 5 yards of the player,” (NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee). The game starts with players going head to head, literally, the game begins with a face off which also allows physical contact between the opposing players shoulders and helmets while they try to retrieve the ball, as seen in Lacrosse All Star’s 2015 NCAA Faceoff Video – Notre Dame vs. Team USA – Lacrosse Best Moments video.
Physical contact could be considered something you need some level of skill to successfully pull off, whether it is tackling someone or checking them with a stick. In a game you have to be precise, or else you risk getting penalized for your actions. Women’s lacrosse has the same restrictions but they are harsher than the men’s, they have to find ways around in order to retrieve the ball and defend their goal. Not only is there a rule against a player’s body having contact with their opponents, but there are guidelines on crosse checking. Crosse Checking as defined in the 2020–2022 WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL OFFICIAL PLAYING RULES by World Lacrosse is defined as “an extension of body checking whereby the defender attempts to dislodge the ball from an opponent’s Crosse by using controlled Crosse-to-Crosse contact.” The rules go over the “do’s and don’ts” of checking, whether it involves stick positioning or the position of your body when attempting to check.
Compared to men, women have to develop patience and timing on top of finding ways to decrease the possibility of getting penalized. Physical contact is a way to retrieve the ball without needing much skill, however body checking is a short cut for players who do not have the proper stick skill to acquire the ball. Women need to develop these stick skills to recover the ball more creatively, while their male counterparts are allowed to slowly injure their opponents as the game progresses. They need to come up with plays to move the ball around the field while confusing the defense in order to score on the opposition’s goal.
Despite the fact that the game times are exactly the same length with one hour game time and a fifteen minute half time, women’s games seem to go on forever. The players will then become angry at not only the referees, but at the rules themselves due to the overprotected nature of the sport. This, in turn, causes both the players and the audience to become frustrated throughout the game, and all of them become uninterested in the current play. Also, It is true that the game can easily come to a halt due to a minor call causing the players to freeze. Due to these frequent and inconvenient calls, the players must quickly adapt to make up for the game’s lost time. Of course this can occur in both mens and womens lacrosse, but female players once again have to come up with more inventive plays and creative strategies in order to make up for this lost time. So, not only does this cause the women players to develop quicker thinking skills, but it in turn will increase each player’s agility. Throughout the history of women’s lacrosse players and fans have tolerated these game stopping rules for far too long. Regardless of the lack of reform due to the conflicting ideas between players and committee members, women have continued to make this game their own.
In spite of all the hate surrounding women’s lacrosse, not only from the spectators but the players as well, there has been no drastic change in rules for years. Mainly due to the players themselves not accepting the proposed changes, such as headgear upgrades, which the players look at as downgrades. Two women’s club lacrosse players have their own opinions for the proposed headgear; midfielder Kayleen McGill says ”I have had multiple concussions and I hate having to put this thing on, but it’s the only way I’m allowed to play lacrosse,” while goalie Meredith Case is impartial, “I’m a goalie so I’m used to wearing more gear than the others, I wouldn’t mind using a helmet in the field, even if they do make you look kind funny.” From Boston College, former Attack Mid Kate Taylor has expressed that she would never want to wear a helmet, and that she would rather get more physical without it. Regardless, the changes that could be made with the possible requirement of helmets is still nowhere near the level of men’s. Female lacrosse players would still have to come up with new and improved plays to win the game. Women have worked hard to achieve the skill level required to play women’s lacrosse, surpassing the men in stick skill, patience and cleverness in order to maneuver around the field to victory.
Hamilton, M. (2017, August 28). Lacrosse Has Untapped Potential as TV Sport, ESPN Producer Says. USA Lacrosse Magazine. https://tinyurl.com/2ppjy46k
Sanches, M. (2017, April 12). Women’s and Men’s Lacrosse: Same Name, Different Sports [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i39zllGnJkI
NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee, & Scroggs, W. (2019). 2019 and 2020 NCAA MEN’S LACROSSE RULES AND INTERPRETATIONS (A. Supergan, Ed.). NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION. https://tinyurl.com/3njy5att
Lacrosse All Stars. (2014, October 24). 2015 NCAA Faceoff Video – Notre Dame vs. Team USA – Lacrosse Best Moments [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL1z6a96Y1w
World Lacrosse. (2019, August 12). 2020–2022 WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL OFFICIAL PLAYING RULES [Memo]. https://d13mgad1aost97.cloudfront.net/2020/06/2019-2021-Womens-Official-Rules_final.pdf