Maybe I should have named this commentary NO lacrosse during Covid-19, but for a while there was some hope.
Last March when things were shut down everywhere, we all thought “this should only last a few weeks, we will finish the season later”. We also thought “Surely this won’t affect Summer Ball”. Well, here we are a year later, no further than we were last year at this point, now in a third lockdown in Ontario.
What hurts the most I think, is just days earlier in some regions, we went to the red zone, which meant we could get ten kids on a field (outdoors) practicing with no contact, with the hope that the orange zone, meaning maybe there could be games on the horizon, would come sooner than later.
We went in the other direction!
We aren’t naive, with cases of Covid-19 on the rise again in Ontario, and with new variants in the air (literally), the writing was certainly on the wall…another lockdown was inevitable.
The roll out of vaccines haven’t been near as fast as once hoped by the governments in Canada, but are finally being distributed to the masses by age groups, but not nearly quick enough to curtail this latest wave.
Another issue that the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL), Ontario Series Lacrosse (OSL), and Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League (OJALL) have to deal with is many of their arena’s wouldn’t be available even if the go ahead was given. Many of these arena’s are mass vaccination sights, and wouldn’t be available any time soon.
Keeping the teams motivated with Zoom meetings, wall ball challenges, and relying on the players self motivation to do drills on their own, teams can only hope by the fall they can arrange some tournaments to play, or have a second season go by without playing.
South of the border is quite different, with NCAA field games being played (occasionally postponing a game or two due to Covid protocal), with empty or near empty houses.
The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) plans on going forward with their professional season this summer. Last year they condensed it to a two week tournament, set in a bubble, but are looking at a more spread out “normal” schedule this year. Will the players from Canada be able to play too?
The National Lacrosse League (NLL) made the right decision canceling the idea of having a mini-season in the spring, seeing that the border was still closed to non essential travel, and lockdown orders prohibited indoor games with crowds of any sort (suicide for a gate driven league). Having part time players also didn’t afford them the luxury of putting teams in a bubble. Many of the players are first responders themselves, leaving the league no choice. Waiting until December might still be presumptuous, but would seem to work in the time frame of vaccinations in Canada.
Hopefully the NLL’s plans will go off without a hitch. With the case counts dwindling, training camps could begin in November, and we can get back to a more normal life of watching, and playing lacrosse safely, both for players, and fans alike.
In the meantime, we sit, wait, and hope, while dreaming about days past, and wishing for days future.
Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.
An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.
Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.
In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.
Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).
Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.