The baseball team has done it again. As they head down the stretch into the last few weeks of the season, the Eagles are burdened with a 14-27 record which, while an improvement on last year’s 12-win season, has ignited an active online conversation about the merits of fielding a baseball team at all.
If you’ve never scrolled through and read a Twitter feud surrounding BC Athletics, I beg you to please do so-they’re extremely entertaining.
The dispute that I came across recently was centered around the fact that the Eagles have been abysmal at baseball for a number of years now, and it questioned why BC even bothers fielding a team, especially when baseball could be replaced with another program-lacrosse.
It’s a debate that’s by no means new to the BC athletics community. In December of 2012, The Heights published a feature that highlighted alumni who were still upset about the lack of a men’s varsity lacrosse program, and there have been hopes that, with the beginning of Brad Bates’ administration, the University will consider reinstating a varsity men’s lacrosse program.
My gut reaction? Bring it back. Please, God, let them bring it back. Let there be croakies and pinnies and spoons and Ray Bans and classic New England spring days. Let me relive the spring days of high school when the sun would shine and the lacrosse team would roll over opponents. Let me watch this crazy combination of the agility of soccer, the skills of hockey, and the physicality of football.
On the surface level, lacrosse looks like the perfect sport for BC. It’s popular in the Northeast, where you find some of the best high school programs in the country, and on the rise throughout the nation. The recruiting potential in Massachusetts alone could form a formidable team, not to mention the talent in Connecticut and New York. The general student body already has the suitably preppy persona that would so easily meld with a lacrosse team, and it is a sport for which private schools seem particularly adept at fielding championship teams. All will be right in the world if BC reinstates men’s lacrosse.
That’s a fantasy, though. It takes a lot of time and resources to build a successful program in any sport, and while re-initiating a lacrosse team wouldn’t have the same challenges as if BC was trying to create, for instance, a football team, if BC (and its Twitter community) is feeling that it needs a team to replace the baseball team, lacrosse may not be a viable option.
In its last three seasons, 2000-02, BC men’s lacrosse had a record of 5-26. Its schedules generally consisted of schools from the Northeast, with similar names to a men’s hockey schedule with a few more regional games and Ivies tossed in.
That was then, and this is now, you might say, but in the event of the formation of a BC men’s lacrosse team, the Eagles would enter the ACC, one of the nation’s most dangerous lacrosse conferences.
They would be tossed in the ring with Maryland, Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Virginia, all of whom are ranked among the top-15 programs in the country, with the ACC taking four of the top five spots with ‘Cuse in first.
A glance down the record column is perhaps the most revealing statistic-the six teams that make up ACC lacrosse have a combined five losses to non-ACC foes this season.
Recruiting is another huge issue. While the Northeast is one of the greatest sources of lacrosse players, there are plenty of established college teams in the Northeast that are taking in talent. Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Penn, and Yale all consistently place programs in the top-25, and that’s just the Ivy League. The Big East has seen its share of success as well.
Approach a young recruit, and where would he rather go-to Princeton to join a top-15 team, or to BC to join a program that doesn’t have a history of success and is in the opening stages of its program?
BC would get a few quality players, and if the program had a couple of good seasons, playing in the Northeast will become an advantage, but there is no such thing as instant gratification in any area of collegiate sports.
If you’re set on replacing baseball with lacrosse because you want to see a quick fix and a winning spring team, you’re putting your eggs in the wrong basket. Building the program from the ground up-finding the right coaches to recruit the right players and form the right team that will finally get some wins in its incredibly competitive conference and region-would probably take just as long if not longer than a revamping of the already present baseball team.
Thanks to Title IX, the process of building a men’s lacrosse team isn’t going to begin without at least some form of restructuring within the athletic department. BC could do great things with varsity men’s lacrosse, but the process would be long and arduous, and it’s not worth cutting another major sport in order to get it rolling.