In Praise Of Lacrosse

Although he has been following the story pretty closely, Todd Blumbergs doesn't have a lot of time to obsess over the Duke lacrosse team case; he's got things to do. The coach of the Woodside (Calif.) High boys lacrosse team is in the middle of his season in the Peninsula Athletic League, and with a little luck the Wildcats could win their first league title this year. We bring this up for a couple of reasons. First, to note that there is such a thing as high school lacrosse, and that the sport indeed exists west of the Mississippi. And second, to point out that, far from being a sport populated solely by rich white kids who couldn't make the baseball team (as has been suggested in some of the coverage of the Duke case), lacrosse, from the grassroots level to the pros, is pretty diverse.

"I've been watching the coverage of the Duke situation, and they are painting the sport with a pretty wide brush," said Blumbergs, a native of New York. "What appears to have happened at Duke is pretty awful. But you hear a lot about 'privledged, white lacrosse players,' and 'rowdy, drunken lacrosse players,' and having played the sport myself I can tell you that lacrosse is no different from any other sport at the college level. This is a case of student-athelete irresponsibilty at a high-profile university, and as such of course it's going to be in the spotlight. But it could have happened with any sport, and has. And it has nothing to do with race or economics."

Blumbergs grew up in upstate New York, playing lacrosse in high school and at Brockport State. "I grew up in a town of 5,000 people, and we were anything but rich," he said. "We were just a bunch of farm boys, but we had probably the best lacrosse program in the nation for a school our size." Blumbergs' Woodside High School team, which he has been coaching for four years, is made up pretty much equally of Latino, African-American and white players. Many of them came to the sport through youth leagues; nearby Palo Alto, home to Stanford University, has one of the largest youth lacrosse club programs in the state. The east Bay (Oakland area) and San Jose also are considered lacrosse hotbeds. It is, by all accounts, the fastest-growing sport in the nation.

Anyway, just a note to try and keep things in perspective; to point out that lacrosse players are people too. Kids fall in love with it just as they do with baseball, football and hockey; it is, after all, America's first sport. Worth keeping in mind.

Duke Lacrosse Team On the Brink [Deadspin]
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