Seven years ago, politically correct and diversity-blinded prosecutors, school administrators, and police almost ruined the Duke Lacrosse program in a scandalous and shameful witch-hunt for three of its players.
In the years since, the Duke program has rebounded and even found redemption of sorts by winning the National Championship in 2010.
Unfortunately, it was through the orgy of supposition and stereotyping that many people were introduced to the sport. And that is a shame.
If the Duke Lacrosse scandal was your introduction to the sport, let me help. I’ve elicited the insight of John Jiloty, VP and Editor-in-Chief of Inside Lacrosse, the go-to website for lacrosse fans, to put together a primer on why you should care about the NCAA Lacrosse Championship tournament starting this weekend:
- Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in America. From youth recreation leagues, to high school and colleges, athletes are becoming enamored with the non-stop action, finesse, high scores and unique skill sets needed to play, and these are all strong factors in the sport’s rise in popularity.
- It incorporates all the best elements of all the country’s other top sports. Catching a hard rubber ball with a net and keeping it there while undergoing a barrage of hip checks, being hit with sticks, and general mayhem, is no small feat. The game incorporates the finesse of gymnastics, fast breaks of basketball, physicality of hockey and football, and the endurance of sprinting – on virtually every play. There’s a good reason why it’s known as the fastest game on two feet.
- It is truly America’s game. Today’s lacrosse began on the plains of Northeast, Great Lakes, and Southern Canada regions of North America by Native Americans. Early tournaments would sometimes last for days and were seen as a rite of passage, as well as a spiritual ritual.
- Root for the underdog. The last few years have seen underdog programs (Duke, Virginia, and Loyola, with Duke and Loyola winning their first ever titles) wrest the trophy away from the dominant programs of the last 35 years – Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, and Princeton. This year’s showdown has more parity than ever and there’s a great chance to keep up that trend.
- Watching records fall. Brothers, Miles and Lyle Thompson, along with cousin Ty, are prolific scorers for Albany and they face Denver, another high octane team, on Saturday evening. The over/under for the game is set at 30.5 points, so expect a battle royale.
- Women’s Lacrosse. Women’s lacrosse is enjoying the same explosive growth across the nation, and these girls can flat out play ball. It’s the same artistry and excitement minus the hitting.
- Other games to watch: Cornell at Maryland and Lehigh at North Carolina.
For more on the tournament, where to watch, and all things lacrosse, be sure to stop by Inside Lacrosse. To get more background, watch highlights (and some pretty cool commercials), check out IL Television.