The Field Game is ‘Under Attack’

Photo Courtesy: Federation of International Lacrosse                                                                      

Lacrosse is a unique sport in that there are various different forms of the game that we all love. There is field, box, women’s field, and you can even add wheelchair/adaptive in there. I know in Uganda they have been introducing the game in a 7’s version do cope with the number of players. All these versions of the game bring really good things into the game, but at the end of the day the goal of the game has stayed the same for thousands of years, put the ball in the goal. It is mind-boggling that a game with such a simple objective can spawn so many different versions. 

The global lacrosse community was introduced to a brand new version of the game today as the FIL put out what the field game will look like in the Olympics when we get accepted. These rules have angered many across the lacrosse world, including myself. With these changes it gives off a sense that the field game as we know it is under attack. While some of these rules make sense for Olympic play most of them do not makes any sense at all and are downright degrading to the game. 

Now its good to note that these aren’t set in stone yet but the FIL is asking it’s member nations to test out what they’re calling a “new discipline” of lacrosse. After receiving feedback the Blue Skies Working Group (Responsible for examining innovative ways to best position the sport of lacrosse for continued growth in the 21stCentury.) will present a final proposal at the FIL General Assembly on August 12-13 in Peterborough, Ontario. 

Here is the list of trial rule recommendations: 

  • Field size — 70 meters X 36 meters
  • Field markings – perimeter markings, goal circles/creases, goal line, midline, draw circle, substitution and player boxes
  • Goals – maintain current specifications
  • Game structure – four 8-minute periods: running clock; 5-minute halftime and 2 minutes between quarters
  • Time clock stops for a timeout, end of a quarter, injury, or during a dead ball within the last two minutes of the fourth quarter
  • Shot clock – 45 seconds; resets on every possession change
  • Game and shot clocks stop for a timeout, injury, or during a dead ball within the last two minutes of the fourth quarter; resets following the end of a quarter
  • Two 30-second timeouts for each team per half
  • Squad size – 10; 6 + 4 subs (allow up to two alternates in the case of competition-ending injury TBD)
  • On-field players – 6 on 6; goalie and five field players on the field at one time
  • On field staff – two coaches and one medical
  • Substitutions – on the fly
  • Offside – both teams must hold back two players behind the midline
  • Over-and-back – prohibited
  • Ball out-of-bounds – when the ball goes out of bounds for any reason, including a shot, it is awarded to the team that did not touch it last
  • Goals – if a player is fouled in the act of shooting, the goal will count
  • After a goal – goalies have 5-seconds to put the ball in play be either passing it or running it out of the goal circle
  • All defending players can run through the crease but cannot act as a goalie
  • Draws – at start of each period and OT
  • OT – sudden victory
  • Officiating – 2 officials per game
  • Penalties – major/minor/technical fouls and related mechanics as close as possible between disciplines
  • Pre- and post-game officiating mechanics identical across disciplines

Now apparently when putting these recommended rules together they wanted to maintain everything in the women’s game except unify the goalie stick specifications for both men’s and women’s. 

In the men’s game they wanted to eliminate long sticks and eliminate “violent collisions”. With stick specifications they wanted to keep that the same except unify the goalie stick specifications for both men’s and women’s. 

Right there in those so-called overarching principles is where the line should have been drawn. Take away long poles and eliminate “violent contact”? You have got to be kidding me. Look, I’m all for growing the game and safety but sometimes it’s nice to see a guy get lit up. And if you take away long poles then why don’t we just play box? 

Those overarching principles hit me in the gut but those proposed rules had me feeling like I just got hit by a car. I understand the game has to be faster for Olympic play and we need to unify the men’s and women’s field, but is all that extra stuff really necessary?

I can deal with a smaller field but 70 meters by 30 meters, really? That is roughly 77 yards by 33 yards. The normal field is way bigger than that and by the way we are talking about field sie for full grown men and women, not 1st graders. Everything else with the field is fine, but that size is just way too small. And again, why not just play box? 

I do like the shot clock at 45 considering the size field they want the game to be played on. Now this is where things really started to get me heated. When the ball is shot wide it goes to the team that did not touch it last, similar to basketball. When you shoot the ball in the field game there are no boards to back up your shot and the quarters aren’t close enough to make a possession saving graball the time, especially after a shot. THAT IS WHY WE HAVE THE CURRENT RULE IN PLACE!

As if that was bad enough, they want to basically kill the faceoff. They want to enstill a faceoff that happens at the start of each period only. While it may be beneficial for some develpoing countries, it takes an exciting play out of the game. I want to see Trevor Baptiste go up againts Geoff Snider when USA plays Canada or any other faceoff battle. It’s unique to our sport and people want to kill it, FANTASTIC! 

This is where things starts to feel like they were proposing gym class lacrosse or something to that nature. Games will be played 6v6, one goal and five players on the field at a time. Also, teams will be made up of 10 players. Mind you, that is how many players are on the fiels at one time in regular field lacrosse, 9 players and a goal. Making things even more ridiclous there will still be offsides as 2 playes must stay back. 

Having just 5 runners in the field game has the ability to kill transition play. Will we see more two-man game pick and roll type play, yes and that’s awesome. But playing 3v3 lacrosse on each end of teh field just sounds stupid. I can already imagine that in my head and it’s not pretty, especially with these rules to go along with it. 

Even worse then the impact these rules will have on the field game, think about the growth. The Olympics are an internationally event and pretty much anyone with access to a TV can watch. Imagine some boy in a developing lacrosse country, or even in the United States or Canada, see’s this on TV. He will think that is the field game and then we he see’s the real version it will be completley different. Imagine how much more confusing that woud be? It’s already confusing enough and we don’t need most of this stuff they are presenting here. 

While some of these things may be good there is an enormous amout of room for improvement with this “new discpline” of lacrosse the FIL is trying to feed us. Again, this isn’t 100% final and hopefully when they do announce the final renderation we are presented with something that is a little more like what we are used to seeing. 

Innovation and growth is great for this game, but this right here was crossing the line way too far. Let’s hope the final product is much better then this garbage. If it’s going to be this kind of stuff then why not just play box. 



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