Earlier today the North American Lacrosse League announced that they were suspending operations. After a little over two years of being in the news and working towards being the elite American lacrosse league, too many obstacles led to its demise.The NALL came into existence due to the lack of American players in the National Lacrosse League. It was founded by former NLL commissioner Jim Jennings and Scott Neiss was the deputy commissioner. The league had five teams and it looked like this would be the league to get off the ground.
However, on December 31st 2011, things went downhill and it never really stopped. Jennings told In Lacrosse We Trust (back when it was just In Lax We Trust) that the league had fired commissioner Anthony Caruso and was moving on. The next day we learned that Jennings, Brett Vickers and Graham D’Alvia had decided to leave.
Anthony Caruso, Kentucky owner Tony Chase and Boston owner Tyler Low remained and the league played a 2012 “season” with the Stickhorses playing six games and the Rockhoppers playing two. The off season was positive as two teams, the Rhode Island Kingfish and Baltimore Bombers, joined the league.
The season started with a hitch as Rhode Island discovered they did not have a home arena to play in. Mid way through the season, the Bombers suspended operations. After Boston won the first (and only) league championship, rumors began to swirl that those owners would be leaving the league.
As the off season of the 2013 season continued, no news meant bad news. There was nothing to report on but plenty of rumors swirled. There was going to be another league, run by a former PLL owner, and NALL had merged with it. That league, Major Indoor Lacrosse, also would never get off the ground.
That was when today the NALL announced its departure from the lacrosse world. “The last two years have been a blast providing low cost family entertainment to the Greater Louisville lacrosse fans.” Chase told us. “Unfortunately, other teams (including teams that departed year one) have not been as successful as the Stickhorses organization has been. It is a sad moment, but one filled with many great memories of fans, players, fellow staff members and great lacrosse moments.”
The sad part is that once again American players have no where to turn to. With the NLL having less American players than ever before (28) and no expansion on the horizon in the United States, it is back to square one. Back to leagues like the QSLL, CanAm and if lucky, Sr B in Ontario.
Once again it’s the players who lose out most of all because of another league not able to get off the ground. Whether it is the fault of the NALL, the PLL or whoever else, the consequences are the same. All that can be hoped for is that the NALL laid down a foundation that showed the need for American players to have a league to play in, a real professional league. After all, the original MIL was mostly American. How soon can we forget that?
In the next few months we will hear of more startup leagues. Hopefully the next time we hear of that we have learned. Hopefully before we get excited about another opportunity we look back at the NALL, something with so much promise just eight months ago, and remember that sometimes it’s not how it appears. It has to be done on the turf, and if those players get another opportunity, it is unsure.