We’ve been talking will Phil Docherty over at 231 Lacrosse to find out all about his new venture that will spread the word about our great game by covering lacrosse matches up and down the UK and posting highlight videos all over YouTube. Take a read and see how he plans to help grow the game.
Summer 2017 and 2018 will see the best lacrosse players on the planet travel to England to compete for the Women’s World Cup and Men’s World Championships respectively. Whilst those already involved in lacrosse will likely be spectators at the tournaments, watching online or following updates on social media & websites there will be millions of people, globally, who have no idea that these tournaments are taking place. A bigger shame will be the tens of thousands of people in England oblivious to the fact that world class athletes are competing on their door step, simply because they do not know that the game of lacrosse even exists.
Do I think 231 Lacrosse can single-handedly change either of those two facts? No, absolutely not… but then again, it isn’t supposed to either. Below is a brief explanation of how and why 231 Lacrosse came to be:
I started playing lacrosse at Nottingham Trent University where I had three great years playing in the British University & College Sports (BUCS) league. Whilst at university, and for three years post-graduation, I also played in the North of England Men’s Lacrosse Association (NEMLA) league, but for a number of reasons decided to take a break from playing at the end of the 2015/16 season. One of those reasons was to learn how to film, edit and make lacrosse videos.
During my ‘playing career’ I would regularly go to YouTube and watch all sorts of lacrosse videos to try and learn more about the sport: plays, full games, hits, highlights, saves, whatever. My favourite videos to watch were ‘short films’ about lacrosse, which showed more than just what took place on the field. By no means an extensive list, and in no particular order, I loved series like Club Ball and The Move (The Lacrosse Network), Project Denver (Guy Ellis) and documentaries such as ‘There and Back // All Access with Virginia Lacrosse’ (Jalbert Productions) and ‘Tufts Lacrosse 2010 – Road to the Championship Official Documentary’ (JumbosLaxTV). They made me want to become a better player and told the story of what it meant to be dedicated to the sport.
Giving up playing lacrosse wasn’t an easy decision, but it has allowed me the time to travel to games and film them. Standing on the side line in the freezing cold of winter to film the game I love instead of actually playing it seems crazy to most (including me, at times), but the simple fact is I think I can have a bigger impact on the growth of lacrosse by filming it instead of playing it.
Truth be told I am still trying to figure out exactly what the ‘end goal’ of 231 Lacrosse is, but the three objectives I try to keep in mind when producing content are as follows:
- Showcase the sport of lacrosse:
In my experience when people come to know about and understand lacrosse it’s a game they enjoy and find exciting to watch. In short: the more content being produced and available to view, the more likely people are to see it.
- Provide a tool for players and fans to share their sport with friends and family
Following on from the above, people are far more likely to come across lacrosse if somebody else puts it in front of them. So, the big questions are: Who is going to share it and what are they going to show them?
Full games? Too long. NCAA or MLL finals highlights? Better: more exciting, less time consuming and, arguably, the pinnacle of the sport. However, is a ‘lacrosse outsider’ (a terrible phrase) more likely to watch footage of players from a team and league they have never heard of or footage of people they know, i.e. you, the team you play for or the person that you went to university with?
If you’re going to show them a video once there probably isn’t much in it, but if you’re looking for regular engagement I think a person’s initial interest will come for you and your link to the sport… not the sport itself.
Case in point: Would I go and watch a random bowls match? Almost certainly not. Would I go and watch my Mum play bowls? Absolutely.
- Produce content that people in the UK can [better] relate to
There are a lot of people out there doing a fantastic job of showcasing lacrosse on a global scale, but I felt that the vast majority of this content had a heavy American/Canadian – or simply non-UK – focus.
Whist this is entirely understandable due to the popularity, standard and commercial potential of lacrosse in these regions I found it made it harder to share the game with people I knew, living here in the UK. It almost presented a hurdle to get over before you could really talk to people about the sport: ‘Isn’t that an American game?’, ‘I didn’t realise that was played in the UK’, ‘I think I’ve seen that in American Pie?’, etc., etc.
I thought if more people could see that lacrosse is being played in the UK it’s something that might come up in conversation more regularly, which might lead to more people giving it a go.
I also found myself thinking ‘If you give little Jonny or Jane a lacrosse stick and encourage them to take up the game, are they going to relate more to footage of a DI NCAA College Athlete from a place they have never heard of, or a senior player from their home club [or at least county] they see week in, week out?’
Hopefully, for my sake, the answer is the latter.
For lacrosse to grow as a sport the existing players and fans of the game need to share it with the future players and fans of the game. Similarly, for 231 Lacrosse to be able to contribute towards this growth it requires current viewers to share it with future viewers and so here is my plea: If you like and enjoy the content being produced, subscribe to the channel and share the videos with your friends in person or on social media – especially those who don’t play or know about lacrosse.
I only know of lacrosse as a friend from university continually invited me down to a taster session and showed me the game. Looking back on my experiences and friendships over the last six plus years I’m so grateful they did.
I’m not naïve enough to think showing one lacrosse video to someone will immediately make that individual a lacrosse player/fan (or even ever), but I do think that more people knowing about lacrosse can only be a good thing for the growth of the sport.
The next 18 months provides huge potential to shine a spotlight on our sport, but there is limited merit in purely ‘preaching to the converted’. So, share your game with somebody new… you might find out they like it.
Thanks for reading,
Phil Docherty, 231 Lacrosse
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