LXM PRO TOUR, The best lacrosse you may not have heard about – by Chazz Woodson

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What’s good??  2 days from now, I’ll be suiting up with 39 other guys to compete in Philadelphia, PA.  As such, I thought I’d take this week’s blog to speak on LXM for a bit.  Hopefully there’s been some promo and a little press about the event. I’m not really sure, because I haven’t had internet access at home this week, so the little bit access I’ve gotten has been spent checking and responding to emails.  At any rate, this weekend’s lineup is a nice one, and this event should be awesome!

For those that do not know what the LXM Pro Tour is, let me give you a brief description and then address a few of the comments and questions that I always receive.  While the atmosphere is fun, and it’s different than the MLL scene, it’s NOT just a random party with a bunch of random lax guys playing a pickup game in the middle of it.  I liken it more to an MLL All Star game (with certain obvious and significant, but not game changing differences).  Picture this.  You’ve been waiting half the summer for MLL to release its ALL Star rosters, so that you can see your favorite MLL players – some veteran, some rookies that you’ve been watching in college the last 4 years – all in one place.  You’re also excited to see the guys that you hadn’t heard of until they started putting up numbers this season in your favorite team’s uniform.  You check the site and there they are!  Kyle Harrison, Mikey Powell, Brett Hughes, Sean Morris, the Bratton brothers … the list goes on!  You continue reading the press release.  Because it’s July 4th weekend, and they want a nice crowd, they are hosting a concert, and prior to the game, they are having a clinic for all young laxers in the area, and everyone from both teams will be out there!

Well, in a nutshell, that’s the LXM Pro Tour, only, instead of it happening once a year, it happens multiple times of year, in different cities.  And this weekend, we’ll be in Philly, ready to put on a show!

Now … A few comments I tend to see on LXM related posts around the online lax world.

“It’s just a big party and a bunch of lax bros playing pick up.”

By no means, is it a big party or beer fest, and in fact, there’s been a conscious move to deemphasize the partying part of everything.  Music draws interest, and adds another dynamic to a professional event.  I see comments about music being played during the game.  I’m not really sure if that’s true or not.  If it is, I’ve never noticed it.  I would draw to your attention however, that music and/or random audio is played throughout NBA, NHL, and MLB games.  I don’t think anyone really takes issue with it.  I’d also say that there’s no more music played during an LXM game, than an MLL game.  At the end of the day, it’s entertainment.  And that is why there are things done to enhance the experience, particularly when there’s not 60K screaming fans to bring the atmosphere as in the NFL.  As for the pickup part of it, the games are very well organized, well run, and played at a pretty high level.  True, it’s not always perfect, but that’s because we are not around each other week in and week out.  Think about what the first half of the MLL season looks like, while guys are getting used to one another, and lineups are constantly changing.

“It’s a bunch of guys that couldn’t cut it in the MLL.”

To that, I simply say … check the resumes.  The majority of the players on the tour have VERY good lax resumes and for those that do not, they are still excellent players.  Keep in mind, there are only 6 (8, I guess, now) teams in MLL.  That leaves a considerably lengthy list of players in the world that know how to play the game.  Many of us have played MLL already, and have made a choice to join the LXM Pro Tour.  I’m sure it’s a variety of different reasons for guys, but at the end of the day, it still provides us an opportunity to play professionally against some of the best players around.  Nobody questions a guy not playing MLL anymore but playing the men’s club circuit, but for some reason, some of us get a bad rap.  Could go on and on, but … ehhhh … why bother?

“LXM is counterproductive to the growth of the game … why not make the MLL as best it can be?”

Remember … MLL has 8 teams.  There are 27 roster spots (I think).  23 “Active” roster spots.  19 game day roster spots.  I could be off on these numbers, but not by more than 1 or 2 on any of them.  So let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there are 30 guys per squad.  You’re talking about 240 spots.  Has anybody ever looked at the training camp rosters?  They’re close to 40 deep.  So 80 guys right off the bat are getting cut.  Doesn’t mean they aren’t good players.  Add that to the fact that there are another 10 on each team, that by the end of the season will no longer be dressing (some will never have dressed a game anyway).  Another 80 down.  So now we have 80 players that (for the sake of argument) were “not good enough” to make the squad in the first place, another 80 that were “not good enough” to play for the squad.  You’re at 160 guys.  This does not include the HUGE player pool that includes guys that simply chose not to play in the given year, or that never got a look, etc etc.  So where do all of these guys get to play and showcase their talents?  LXM does not affect the MLL.  In fact, the only way, at this point that LXM could affect the MLL is if Paul Rabil jumped ship.  And even then, MLL would survive.  LXM is not counterproductive by any means.  It’s simply another opportunity for guys to play.

So why LXM over MLL?  That’s a good question and as I mentioned, different guys probably have different reasons.  I can only speak for myself.  It made sense for a few reasons.  In both 2009 and 2010 I was injured, traded, and cut (without being told).  What many fans do not know is that in MLL, you only get paid if you dress.  Because I missed half of both seasons, I essentially made one season’s salary.  We’re also under contract for 365 days which prevents us from participating in any other professional field competition.  Therefore, if I wanted to participate in LXM events or other paid events from the end of August, until March 1st, I would not be allowed to contractually.  So for 7 ½ months (if you include March and half of April before training camp starts), I would be under contract, for no reason, with no benefits (and I’m not sure what other benefits there are besides game salary anyway).  Additionally, salaries (aside from a few rumors I’ve heard) are also non-negotiable, and the league determines them.  My personal salary was significantly lowered, and with no guarantee of dressing (once I even make a roster), it would not make sense for me to cut off my options.  With LXM, I know that I’m dressing; I know that I’m getting paid.  I also do not have to commit every weekend from April to August to LXM as I would with MLL.  This allows me more opportunities to work/run more camps, working on projects to Grow The Game, like I did this summer, and to do other things outside of lacrosse.

That said, if the MLL front office, would allow us to participate in both, and an MLL team would have me, I’d definitely do it.  There are ways to make that happen, but they will not budge.  From all the discussions that I’ve had with various front office folks, I think the bottom line is that LXM to them is competition.  When you really break it down from a purely business perspective, that makes sense.  But in a practical world, and as it relates to lacrosse, it doesn’t make sense at all, ESPECIALLY if there are no seasonably conflicting events.  The big hang up, after all is that it’s another “professional” opportunity.  The reason that I believe this is their sole reasoning, is because guys play other events all the time for free.  But contractually, because LXM is professional field lacrosse, they will not permit it.  I always here the argument of the NFL or NBA letting guys play in other leagues, etc.  Well first of all, this is not a league.  But what about NFL Europe of the CFL?  While it may not have been your biggest and brightest NFL stars, there were guys that were on NFL rosters that played in these leagues.  NBA players play in offseason events all the time.  Now, they may not get paid for them, but they play.  And they take the same risks.  They play at the Rucker.  They play ProAm games.  They play charity games etc.  The league clearly does not prohibit any of this stuff, much the same as MLL does not prohibit guys from playing in Hawaii, Vegas, Ocean, City, etc.  And the only commonality – since it’s an argument that I have heard numerous times – is that the athletes are not being paid.  That’s the only thing I can think of that makes sense.

How fun would it be to see your favorite MLL players playing once or twice a month in the offseason as well??  It also keeps the MLL name alive and active during the offseason, when nothing else is going on.  MLL Press release – “Boston Cannons’ Paul Rabil drops 8 in LXM Pro event in Arizona” or “Nationals’ defensemen Brodie Merrill has 3 and 2 as LXM Pro Tour hits Nashville, TN” … Or seeing highlights of Rochester Rattlers’ Midfielder Jovan Miller take over the 4th quarter like KD did at the Rucker?!?!?  Just my 2 cents.

be easy

God bless.

For some more great info on LXM Pro check out this article at LaxAllstars.com