Goods Corner: LXM Pro and the MLL

Goods Corner is a new weekly editorial from Jack Goods covering the latest topics of interest around the sport of lacrosse. You can get in on the conversation by writing in the comment section below or by hitting Jack up on Twitter @GoodsOnSabres.

Last year I discovered the LXM Pro Tour for the first time, and thought it was really a good idea. I wrote a piece about why it was good for the game, a beacon for lacrosse in the non-traditional markets on the west coast. It’s a great way to create exposure for fans they may not have been able to see the sport if their city didn’t host an MLL or college team.

LXM has been in the news the past few years not for what it has done on the field, but the players that its put on it. Most recently LXM lured Peter Baum, the first overall pick in this year’s MLL Draft, to join the tour. This is the second year in a row that a first round pick decided to not play in the MLL, as last year Lizards draft pick Sam Bradman decided to opt for LXM as well.

As good of an idea LXM is, top notch players joining is not a good thing for the sport. This is a sport trying to earn legitimacy, and the first step is having a premiere league. Fans like there to be one place where they can see the best players in the world. There’s an appeal to talent, people want to see the big names. How does it look when the best players don’t think its worth it to play in that league?

What it comes down to is money, and maybe all LXM Pro is doing is exposing the problems that still plague the sport. These players are still playing because they have a passion for the sport, but they are putting their body at incredible risk for very little reward. Some have decided that its not worth it, they’d rather play closer to home, less times, or at a less competitive level.

Let’s look at this from the eyes of a casual fan. The MLL moving their draft back in the calender is to gain interest from college fans. So a fan is watching Colgate, and they hear one of the commentators talk about how Baum was drafted by the Ohio Machine and that we’ll be seeing him play this summer. But then he doesn’t, because he’d rather do something else. Wouldn’t that fan take the MLL a bit less seriously?

No matter what people say, LXM is not professional lacrosse. It starts with the fact that the MLL cannot talk to players while still in college (it would be tampering), but LXM and its sponsors can. There are only two teams who play each other in different locations, there are no playoffs, no standings, no real structure. In essence it is a pickup game between really talented lacrosse players that happens in a different location every once and a while.

As helpful for the sport as LXM may be, the MLL is much more important when it comes to the growth of the sport. I’m a fan of LXM up until it starts interfering with the top tier of professional outdoor lacrosse. I’m surely not alone in that belief. Sure, these guys have the right to play wherever they’d like. However, they should remember that some of them are the people who are supposed to be carrying the torch for the sport, and that does come with some responsibility.