My Minor Lacrosse Rant – OLA I Am Challenging You To Step Up!

I just got home from my long fun filled day at a Minor Lacrosse tournament in Brampton. Before I go into my rant on this day, as I really have something stewing in me, I have to say, that I do applaud Albert Rehanek (President of Brampton Minor Lacrosse), and all of the volunteers that ran this tournament. It was organized, used multiple locations, and game times were fair to all teams. And I spoke a few times with Albert throughout the day Saturday, as he let me use his laptop to update scores here on LITG.  He put in countless hours leading to this weekend, and over the course of it.  When I joked with him about doing it all again in a heartbeat he smiled and said yes he would.  That is a great volunteer. 

And it does bother me, but I have to be somewhat critical of the schedule set up. I would seriously like to know who it was that dreamed up this format. I will only comment on the Bantam division as my son plays there, but a few other divisions were exactly the same. So here is the scenario, 12 teams in Bantam, split onto 4 groups of 3 teams each. Not a perfect setup but still workable. However, the three guaranteed games were played against three teams in a completely separate division, meaning the chances to advance in the tournament, not only depended on how you did against other teams, but how other teams in your division did against the other division as well.

My sons team goes 3-0 against the other division, but because his team did not “blow out” a team as bad as another team in his own division did, they get sent home and do not play Sunday. At the same time, a completely separate division, sends their top team to the final four, with a record of 0 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. Oh, and I’ll even make it better than that, one of the teams my son’s team defeated? They were the rep of their division. So the final four has two teams that were 3-0, one team that was 1-2, and a team 0-2-1.

Now please understand; for me it is really not about winning. I want my kid to have fun and he is. But this tournament costs each team around $500 to enter. And this is a bitter way to exit the festivities, playing only 3 games……all of them games that you won.

But there are a couple of things that really concern me having witnessed all of this today.

  • While watching the eventual representative from our division dismantle a team in their final game, I watched as a number of the parents from the losing team got visibly upset at the winning teams parents still cheering as the score was 14-2 and still climbing. The losing teams’ parents did not know that the winning team “had to” continue to pour it on or they would not advance. And as silly as it seems to still be cheering at 14-2, they had to, to ensure that their players kept up the pace. This was not good for the game of lacrosse or for either center.
  • The setup of this schedule was downright silly. And I only hope that a tournament that has been in operation this long, seriously looks at changing it to a more “fair” schedule for all teams. If they do not, I am fearful that word of this set up will travel very fast, and future years may see fewer teams willing to participate.  This would be a shame.

This is only one example of a schedule that I have seen far too many times in OLA sanctioned tournaments that is way out to lunch. Most often (but not in this case) it is the home center stacking a division so that their team is assured a trip to the final.  They’ll put two top teams against one another early in the tournament, and the winner will play the host in the final.  This was not the case here, but does it sound like somewhere you’ve been?

Now, not being one to just sit and complain, I have two suggestions that I will be forwarding to the Ontario Lacrosse Association that I seriously hope will be taken into consideration.

1) For future years, I would like to recommend that an OLA representative receive / review each and every schedule for each and every minor lacrosse tournament, prior to that schedule being sent out to all of the competing teams. This needs to be done in an effort to ensure fairness to every team participating. This will include a review of game times, locations, division setup and rules for advancing to the final. This person would then have the authority to work with the home center rep to complete a fair schedule if they feel it is not. I mean honestly, it cannot be rocket science on how to develop a schedule for 4-14 teams. Divisions, cross over games, all that can easily be done up and whatever the number of teams, you plop it in a template. It is already being done for Provincials, so why not do it for Invitationals as well.  If the OLA does not have a person that can accommodate this request, I will do it.
2) It is time to completely eliminate the formula for advancing in tournaments / Provincials. The goals for divided by the goals for plus goals against formula has outlived its usefulness. It now encourages blow outs, without any consideration for the team being destroyed. How is that positive for the game of lacrosse? My suggestion is to either use Penalty Minutes (which would certainly tame many games, with teams knowing the importance of penalties), or to simply use goals against only. There might be other better ideas, so anyone out there with any, fire away!

As I stated and I cannot stress this enough, this is not a slam on Brampton Minor Lacrosse. It is more of a final straw for me on a number of things I’ve seen in the last five or so years being deeply involved in Minor Lacrosse. And it is a trend that is really concerning if you love this game like I do.

Centers need to be fair, be smart, and the OLA needs to get more involved. It’s for bettering our game and hopefully attracting people to it, not turning them away.  I know a group of Bantam players in one center that I watched in three games score 5 goals, and have 40 scored on them are probably not recounting how much fun they had this weekend. 

By the way, I have another rant that I will be posting in the next few days on more that I have seen lately that really bothers me. It involves some helmets, not fitting onto some young heads too well. Stay tuned.

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7 Comments

  1. I agree with you that goals for and against is not always the right answer to determine whether a team should advance to the next round. In Master’s lacrosse we have eliminated this process and now use the team with the fewest penalty minutes as the victor in a tie scenario. (head to head) always being the first determiner then penalty minutes as the second. It’s amazing how clean the game becomes when this is imposed. Food for thought !

    Drawman

    • While penalty minutes serves a purpose it takes the game away from the kids (at times) and places it the hands of officials. Some as young as 14. What is a highstick to one may not be to another. This could come intio play more often when a home side is invovled. It would also be the opposite for teams that are being beaten to antagonize the other team to draw penalties and take them out of the competition.

      Goping back to the referee again. Think of the damage a ten minute misconduct could do? Yet for this is a tool the refs have to curb coaches and players from being a little mouthy. Again it is discretion.

      The score is the score. I do not like to see team have the score run up against them and have not believed that you should play up whenever possible just to see an double digit difference in score. Neither team benefits.

      In this case it was the format that was incorrect. The suggestion of three divisions and a wild card is better but it also creates a weak sister format as the weakest division sends two teams.

      Another possibilty is to seed the top six (as six could have gone 3-0 and have 1 and two get a bye and play two more games 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5. Again not perfect but again I would rather have a chance to play again with 3-0 record than make a two hour trip home stewing over it.

  2. I totally agree with you Mark …it happened in the PeeWee also…all three teams are 2-1-0 in the pool and because the one team knew what they had to do to move on literally kept pouring on the goals and the cheering as an observer to that game I really felt sorry to the Guelph team who went 0-3 this weekend and took a huge beating in the last game….I will congratulate Guelph Coaches and Players especially the Goalie…Good Job Boys you kept your cool as hard as it was…..

  3. As a parent who just experienced the OLA formulation last year for the first time, I was looking for the calculator to figure it all out. If 2 teams finish at 2-1, then I can see the justification in a weird formula. But as Gary says, to go 3 and 0 without the opportunity to play another game boggles my mind as well.

    There will always be one team that feels that they got the short straw every tournament, but to play your best, go 3 and 0 and go home early when you have a winless team advance is truly unfair. But when you do win, you should be rewarded with at least another game, not a long drive home wondering why we didn’t we get in.

    And in regards to the comment about the referees and teams that play to antagonize, a good ref will see what is going on before it gets to that point.

    And sign me up for that tournament liason position. Something has to give here so that everyone can receive an opportunity to improve and acheive a goal. Not knowing who that 0-2-1 team was, or who they played against, but i am sure that it wasn’t a ” barn-burner” of a game.

  4. You guys know that the OLA wont do anything they never do . until someone creates a new league with supportive managemet by the reps and elected officials the old boys club willcontinue to collect their paychecks and be conspicuous with their silence.

  5. In the past I have seen tournaments, both hockey and lacrosse use a point per period set up. That is a point if you win the period and 2 foe the game. If a period is tied then the teams split. This way if a team has a blow out in one period they still have a chance to get some points. The max a team can get is 5 points. This way goal differential isn’t such a factor and it avoids blow outs!

    • You could also put a cap on the =-. Say a 5 or 6 max. This would eliminate the need for blow outs.


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