From the CEO: Conversation Starters

This article appears in the December edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, available exclusively to US Lacrosse members. Join or renew today! Thank you for your support.

It’s been a long, tough stretch as we transition into the new year. While club and tournament play continued through the fall, nimbly moving from practice fields to event venues in pockets of the country that allowed play, infection rates soared again — and the sport’s core may well remain in a state of suspended animation at least until the cold weather breaks.

The forced disruption of play, while painful in many ways, should also invite a disruption of thought. While it may be more comforting to wait impatiently for a return to the way things were, that is unlikely to occur, nor should it if our ultimate goal is to leave the sport better than how we found it for the next generation of players.

Over the course of a week in October, three conversation-starters caught my eye and are worthy of mention.

  • On Oct. 13, Tom Farrey, the executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program, wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times in which he suggested that a reduction in the number of varsity sports offered by colleges, driven by significant losses in revenue, may be a good outcome in the long run — that it “will mean fewer athletic scholarships, but also potentially less money spent pursuing them and more university support for other forms of campus sports.”

  • On Oct. 16, on the final day of the Aspen Institute’s annual Project Play Summit, best-selling author Michael Lewis spoke passionately about the perspective he gained as an obsessive youth sport parent lost in the fragmented state of privatized youth sport. Lewis lamented the “endless supply of anxious parents willing to cough up whatever it takes to give their kids an edge in this hypercompetitive world and mix of toxic and benign actors.”

  • On Oct. 17, The Atlantic published an article by Ruth S. Barrett — since retracted due to inaccuracies in its reporting and the author’s history of plagiarism — that painted a similarly unflattering picture of the exclusive nature of youth sports and the lengths some parents will go to position their children for an admission advantage. Lacrosse joined fencing and squash in what Barrett depicted as “a tragicomedy of perverse incentives and social evolution in unequal times.”

How do we eradicate this perception of privilege? US Lacrosse welcomes your input. Tag @USLacroseMag on Twitter.

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