Hard mesh holds candy better than traditional...

By Chris Ely

It's Halloween night and the neighborhood is packed with little ghosts and goblins trudging door to door repeating, in near unison, the traditional plea for goodies to be placed in their sac-o-treats. I live in an area outside Baltimore City that is a hotbed for lacrosse- particularly that 20 ton elephant of a youth league known as THE Lutherville-Timonium Recreation Council.

The L.T.R.C. has, over he last three decades or more, produced some of the finest lacrosse talent in the country, both in high school and college and later club ball and the pros. Years ago, every Halloween we would greet any number of boys and girls decked out in their lacrosse gear, sticks in their very sticky hands reaching out for free sweets. This years' "All Hallows Eve", we had cheerleaders, football players, baseball players, various cartoon and movie characters and even some "older" children appearing as themselves*.

This year there was not a single "stickster" among the 100 or so trick-or-treaters that graced our doorway. I wonder what this says about the game's so-called year-round threshold of influence on youngsters. Maybe it means absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, I was quite surprised that we did not see any lacrosse "costumes" this Halloween.

An NCAA-broth boil and bubble

And speaking of TRICKS, Johns Hopkins University must feel like the NCAA Poobahs are pulling some cruel Halloween prank, voting on the fate of their Division I lacrosse programs.

The Blue Jays in the 2003 Division 1 Final

Blue Jays men's and women's lacrosse are the only teams competing in Division I while the rest of the Hopkins athletic program is Division III. A proposal, which will be voted on by all the NCAA school presidents in January, would affect some half dozen schools that have similarly divided athletic programs. In essence, they will be voting to force Hopkins to remain as a Division I program but without athletic scholarships or downgrade the lacrosse programs to Division III (non-scholarship) status to make it equivalent to their Division III football, basketball and soccer programs. Alternatively, the Blue Jays could remain as a Division I lacrosse school with athletic scholarships, but that would require that they upgrade all the rest of their sports teams to either Division I or Division II.

Are Middlebury & Gettysburg hurt by Hopkins' DI lacrosse money?

The proposal is designed to ensure there are no athletic scholarship grants issued to student athletes at schools where other sports are competing on a Division III level. Hopkins Athletic Director Tom Calder has gone on record saying his school will not downgrade either lacrosse program and will continue to compete in Division I without scholarships if the proposal is ratified. But Calder is whistling past the graveyard on this one.

Should the proposal go through, and it will only take a majority for the bill to pass, it will not take effect until 2008. But if (read-when), this proposal is passed, Calder will be virtually forced to upgrade the rest of his sports to Division II and hand out partial scholarships in order to maintain Division I status in lacrosse.

As I said, JHU could remain a DIII Institution with DI Lacrosse but the teams will eventually find themselves at a competitive disadvantage without the ability to hand out scholarship money no matter how grand the Homewood tradition. Calder should consider calling Gary Walters, the A.D. at Princeton. As we all know, the Ivy League does not give athletic aid and Princeton has been able to do quite well in both the men's and women's game "without scholarships".

Baltimore for Evermore, No Lenore! Just 2004.

And speaking of the NCAA- they TREATED Philadelphia with the lacrosse finals in 2005-2006, and ever since the announcement I have heard wailing far and wide all over the Baltimore metropolitan area. To think, the esteemed burghers of Charm City really felt the NCAA would declare the 2003 weekend in Baltimore such an overwhelming success that they would never, in their wildest dreams, consider moving the event somewhere else!

A big Baltimore crowd in 2003

It's true; nearly 109,000 attended the three day mud-fest at M&T Bank stadium, beating the 6 year old College Park record by nearly 32,000. But nowhere was it ever decreed that Baltimore or any venue would, or should, become the permanent site of the college lacrosse championships like Omaha, Nebraska has been for the College Baseball World Series.

Philadelphia will have a lot to live up to in a couple of years. But the selection of Lincoln Financial Field has given Baltimore fans a rallying point. Rather than crying in their Natty Bohs, Charm City Lax fans should be vowing to wow the NCAA committee by setting the attendance bar so high during Memorial Weekend 2004, it puts the pressure on Philly to do even better. If Philadelphia cannot pull it off as well as Baltimore did, then B-more can make the case to return the title games to what they believe to be the cradle of the sport. If Philadelphia, in 2005, eclipses the mark Baltimore sets this coming spring, then they have met the challenge. And if Philly out-draws Crab Town in two years, even the most die hard Baltimore lacrosse fan would have to admit that, that's not so bad. After all, that's a positive, not a negative, for college lacrosse.

* Note to 5'11" trick-or-treater wearing a minimalist costume and upon receiving his Hershey Bar said "thank you" in a bass voice that could be used in an NFL Films Super Bowl highlight special: I think your days of trick-or-treating should come to an end.

November 6, 2003

Thousands of Lax Photos for sale!

More by Chris Ely

NCAA Should Look To MLL To Speed Up Game October 6, 2003

Ely on Team USA's Bob Shriver August 1, 2003

ESPN Gets Final Game Right June 26, 2003

Chris Ely Joins E-Lacrosse June, 2003