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The Burbidge Beat: Clearing Up Misconceptions About Sanctioning

Last week I had a fantastic meeting with parents from several schools within the same school district. I’m not going to name the district because I didn’t ask permission, but I will tell you what happened because I think it is indicative of the misunderstanding and failed communication between districts and schools related to sanctioning lacrosse.

I got to the meeting a little late and as I walked into a room that I expected only four or five people to be in it. I came to find 15 people sitting around the table. I was asked to come to their meeting and talk about sanctioning and the ramifications it had for these particular schools and their district. I went there fully expecting to have few people in attendance.

As we briefly went over a summary of sanctioning for their schools, it became apparent that there was a little confusion. Several members of this group thought they were at the mercy of the school district and rumor had it that the school district didn’t like the sport because it was (a) a Lax Bro sport, (b) it was too expensive, and (c) it uses up too many resources. All valid arguments, except the Lax Bro, that was 2007-2010.

However, as the meeting went on and the layers peeled back, one school’s representative  mentioned that they felt like they were the only high school that had their school administration support. However, representatives from a second school said that they felt they also had some support from their school administration. Later in the discussion, it was revealed that almost all the high schools in this district had some administration support.  In fact, in our discussion we learned that one of the parents had talks with their school district administrators that was positive for lacrosse, all contrary to the existing rumors.

Why is this conversation so important? Lacrosse lore.  This is the lore that the world, in particular your school district is anti-lacrosse.  This lore is the assumption that forms the premise for decisions made by vast majority of teams, programs, and boards.  This misplaced lore is more often than not wrong and is paralyzing to programs. In essence we don’t act because of the lore rather than actively seeking out the facts from the decision makers.  This group discussion provided an excellent forum for peeling back the falsehoods and looking to solid fact-based information.

By the end of the meeting, the parents from these schools came away with an understanding that four things needed to happen for their school district to understand the importance of lacrosse to their constituents and community.

First, the parent group from each high school needed to take immediate action. Waiting for the school district to hand down a decision could and should not be an option. Once the school district makes a decision it is too late and might even endanger the growth of the sport that these groups had worked so hard to grow and cultivate.

Second, they needed to reach out to the families of the lacrosse community in their respective areas. They needed to know who understood the dynamics with the school district and the high school. Then, they needed to identify who could help with the process of assisting and educating the school district to follow the needs of their current students and the long line of students coming up.

Third, these groups needed their lacrosse boards filled with parent representatives that would become active and educated to what their local teams were in need of. They needed to represent the youth, women and men’s club lacrosse. These boards would collect all the information about the club organization (youth up to high school) and then approach the school district. The board would collect the registration data, growth numbers and areas affected. They would try and proactively consider and find solutions, if possible, to the district’s and school’s concerns. Everything from field space to costs, coaching staffs, and booster clubs.  These groups would gain trust within their school administration if they can show that they have thought through the issues and concerns of their high schools and school district and were proactive in managing and addressing the administrations concerns.

Fourth, the boards from the different club programs would then need to meet as a whole and decide what the best course of action would be for their clubs collectively given the needs of their district as well as school resources available. Then, present the information to the school district.  Presenting a unified front with the information collected to support their desire to become varsity sports in all of the school makes the job of the school district administrator much easier and more likely to garner administrative support.

It was a great meeting, it was a great show of teamwork and being a lacrosse family. They looked at this as an issue that affected all of them and the players that will benefit in the years to come. I was so impressed with the selfless nature of teamwork and desire to surge ahead.

This group was the perfect example of what should be done and replicated throughout the state where sanctioning is an issue for a school district.  It is difficult to deny a community of parents with a common goal in making something better for their children and those children yet to play this fantastic sport when a school district is presented a well thought out solution. I was very proud to have been a witness to this repudiation of lacrosse lore and am encouraged by these selfless parents working with facts as a lacrosse community pushing for the adoption of lacrosse as a varsity sport within their district.

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