Morning Jac: Handling Contraction
'Tis better to have loved and lost
It's natural for lacrosse fans to feel melancholy upon hearing about the loss of a pair of NCAA programs this week. First, it was Division I Presbyterian on Tuesday, and this afternoon, as I wrote last night, Division II Grand Canyon will officially announce that it will be dropping its program.
It's saddening – and somewhat unnerving – to witness all of the youth and high school teams springing up all over the country, creating new pipelines for college programs, while simultaneously watching the sports collegiate varsity contingent contracting.
It's also frustrating for some to look at these schools from South Carolina and Arizona and performing a postmortem examination to determine all they could have done differently. Maybe they should have been wiser in planning the developmental stage of the program. Or perhaps they could have had a better strategic plan. Or maybe better resources. Or better recruiting. Or whatever.
Some, or all of it, maybe true. But I prefer to look at it a different way.
I commend Presbyterian and Grand Canyon for giving it a shot. It would have been far easier, and likely cheaper, for those schools to sponsor (or expand) a different men's sport, but instead they opted to give the fastest growing one a shot. And they took their shot even though they had the misfortunate of working into the teeth of some unfortunate national economic realities.
As such, the lacrosse community shouldn't chastise these teams – or even the Division III Bard team that had to close up shop for the season because it couldn't field a team – for giving up or killing any of the sport's momentum. They should be patted on the back and a given thanks for trying. Lacrosse needs more risk-takers at the varsity level, so those that try and fail should not be denigrated.
Perhaps soon their brief time with us in the NCAA world will provide a model for future programs and help illustrate the potential pitfalls that await. And perhaps even further down the road, Presbyterian and Grand Canyon will find an opportunity to rejoin us, so we can welcome them once again.
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