Box Lacrosse Rules Examined – Editorial Article

Posted: August 8, 2012 by Paul Rai in Alberta Lacrosse, Box Lacrosse, Vimy Lacrosse

A great article by Marty O’Neill on the rules and rule interpretation in box lacrosse.  Click here to read the article.  O’Neill talks about the “lack of structure in the rules application and the lack of referee development” in Canadian box lacrosse.  I totally agree with him in his assessment of what ails lacrosse in Alberta and in my estimation across the country.  The “Grey Area” has become the source of so many issues that going to a lacrosse game becomes more about figuring out what an infraction is than the skill and speed on the floor.  The NCAA has just proposed a myriad of rule changes to make their field game more interesting, higher tempo and focused on ball movement.  They have in the past introduced rules to heavily penalize head shots.  The NLL has learned that its draw is the top end offensive players and they take careful steps to ensure that the rules protect the skilled players.  I feel a professional player in the NLL is better protected by the rules than minor box lacrosse players in Canada.

Canadian box lacrosse needs to take steps to improve the box lacrosse game.  I know the CLA has identified head shots a point of emphasis in the game, but I never saw it translate to the game on the floor.  How about cross checking off the ball, which is an integral part of the box lacrosse defense.  The rule book states

A defending player/goalkeeper may interfere with the progress of an attacking non-ball carrier using his/her body or push checking motion with his/her stick provided the non-ball carrier is inside the dotted line in Pee Wee and lower and the defensive zone in Bantam and higher.

Does this rule mean that as soon as someone crosses into that checking zone he/she is now fair game for blind side hits and being run into the boards?  Is that the intent of the rule?  To allow bigger and stronger players the opportunity to intimidate smaller players by giving them the green light to catch someone with a big hit when they do not have the ball.  I think a lot of coaches and players would like to know the intent of the rule.  I think if we all knew then at the least we would be able to prepare for it.  It comes down to how the Canadian Lacrosse Association wants the game to be played.  The NHL realized that the hooking and holding was killing the skill of the game.  They made changes to promote skill and speed.  The CLA needs to carefully look at its game and make the appropriate changes.  I want lacrosse to be about great skilled plays, not bench clearing brawls, which are now the norm on YouTube.

And of course slashing, the call that no one can ever figure out.  Are you allowed to slash on the ball?  Where are you allowed to slash?  How hard are you allowed to slash?  How about call every slash until the penalty box is filled with players and then everyone will get the idea that slashing to intimidate is not going to be part of the game.

I do not believe that the responsibility lies with the referee.  It lies with the provincial and national governing bodies that must be prepared to invest into referee development and a clarification of all the rules.  The players are the greatest asset in the game.  Keeping them protected is the most important part of the game.  Box lacrosse is a great game and I want parents to enjoy the game and be excited to see their youngsters participate in the sport.  I think Marty O’Neill is on to something and I hope people start hearing the message.


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