The GCLA Way
Before I get to the rationale, let me start by saying a couple of things to warm you up:
I realize that there are some lacrosse players who, in their words, "Just wanna @#$@ing play." It matters not what anyone's rules are, they "Just wanna @#$@ing play." Without any kind of respect to anyone's bylaws, they "Just wanna @#&@ play" with whomever will have them. They want to get as much lacrosse in as possible.
Well, I would like to "Just @#&@ing go to Tahiti for a month and lay on a beach!" But as a thinking member of the human race, I realize that I can only do that through not just my own efforts, but through the efforts of countless other people, those who arrange travel tickets, prepare hotel stays, and fly airplanes.
By that same token, most of the players who "Just wanna @#&@ing play" do not realize that the ONLY reason they CAN play is because of the efforts of others. Many of those who "Just wanna @#&@ing play" have never lifted a finger to start and/or run a club team, start and/or run a lacrosse league, or anything else. For many of these people, its just about THEM. They're takers.
So, with an endless supply of players, but a limited supply of trustworthy, competant, giving organizers, I will side with the givers over the takers EVERY time.
That is why the following will make sense ONLY if a person understands that we are thinking in the best interests of those rare, valuable people who give of themselves to organize and run club lacrosse teams.
It is important to understand that most players in club lacrosse are wonderful people who help in whatever way they can, and that those causing the stir are in the definite minority.
The above-mentioned rule exists for the following reasons:
1) To protect clubs from other clubs that wish to "gang-up" on them
2) To improve recruiting and morale on each club
3) To keep teams from working to gain "unfair" competitive advantages over an opponent.
Without the above-mentioned rule, the following not only can happen, but in many instances, already has:
1) A GCLA team will show up for a game to play another team, only the other GCLA team has sent out emails and made phone calls to players from a team in another league. Suddenly, the first team is sending their 13 players up against a stacked team, loaded with studs, many of whom are not their own. In this instance, who is the "honorable opponent" here? And, suppose a playoff seeding was on the line. Who gets screwed in that instance? Is this good for league morale?
2) A GCLA team has 6-7 players who wish to play on two teams in two different leagues. BOTH teams count these same players as being on their rosters, and, thinking they have a full roster stop recruiting with the fervor as before. On a certain date BOTH teams have scheduled games. If one of the games is more attractive than the other, one of the teams inevitably gets screwed. What happens to the morale of the team that gets screwed? Is that good for club lacrosse?
3) A GCLA team again has 6-7 players who wish to play on two teams in two different leagues. Both leagues' playoffs coincide on the same weekend. One team gets nailed as most if not all of these players choose one team and one league over the other on that particular weekend. What happens to the team that was counting on these players?
4) All teams find it hard to travel. Finding a strong number for road trips can be very difficult. In the previous scenario, most players will find it easier to stay home and play for the non-traveling team, only adding to the burdens of the traveling team. And guess what, the traveling team has to make a call on Friday night to their opponent to forfeit the game. Who wins in this scenario? Nobody. Who loses? Everyone, and lacrosse.
5) Two GCLA teams are vying for a top seed in the playoffs. Both teams show strong, but one GCLA team has called a team from a different league (a team that does not have a game that day) to borrow their stud goalie and top scorer. That GCLA team ends up winning the game by two goals. Is that honorable?
6) A GCLA team starts out the year with a strong 25-30 player team. Things look promising for them, but as the year moves along the inevitable attrition occurs, mostly because many of these players just aren't seeing the playing time they hoped for because of the numbers. By year's end, the GCLA team realizes that many of their top players were playing with a team from the other league. Now, at crunch time, the GCLA team find itself not only without these top players but without the rank-and-file players who fell away. They find themselves screwed.
7) A GCLA team has many devoted, trustworthy players who dearly love playing for their team. They show up to all the games and most of the practices. They're excited about a big game coming up, and hope to contribute. Some have even EARNED a starting position with this team. Suddenly, while warming up for this game, some strangers appear who have mysteriously been contacted from another team in another league. It begins to dawn on these players that many of them will NOT be starting at all, and that their playing time is being cut drastically. What happens to the morale of THIS team? Many of these devoted players, the ones every club team NEEDS, are soured on the experience and quit. And these strangers? They don't care. They "Just wanna @#&@ing play."
8) A GCLA team has some players on their team who make a difference, and actually give them hope for a successful season. Suddenly, in mid-year, they are lured away from their team one weekend to play with another team in another league. They have left their team in the lurch, and their team suffers as a result. The following week, these players come back to their GCLA team to resume play. In almost every instance this creates strife and friction, and it can destroy the morale of the team.
Most of these takers who "Just wanna @$&@ing play" happen to be talented. They would need to be to be in so much demand. At the same time, many of them have absolutely NO experience in being a mid-level player. And because there are a lot more mid-level players around than top-level players, they have NO IDEA as to the damage that can be done. They usually don't care. They "Just wanna @#&@ing play."
When these sorts of things are allowed to go unchecked and unregulated, the ultimate result is that fewer and fewer mid-level players stay in the game, fewer and fewer good people want to spend the energy to organize and lead club teams, and ultimately fewer and fewer teams will exist.
What would happen is that you would ultimately have a smaller and smaller number of elite-type teams, with the same players recycled over and over again.
Team identities would erode as the players and leaders change from year to year. Team names would change almost every year, depriving these clubs of the name recognition that is vital to recruiting now and in the future.
And, if the clubs aren't succeeding, the league isn't succeeding.
I know that these things would happen, because I have seen them happen already. And believe it or not, there are actually some people out there naive enough to suggest that we allow these things to occur!
All of the above-mentioned scenarios only create stress and headaches for the very people we all should be supporting- the club leaders and organizers. One of the main reasons that there aren't more of them is because they have too many headaches to contend with already.
With occurances like those described above, an organizer who has put months of work into his club's lacrosse season suddenly sees it flushed down the toilet. Just because a bunch of guys "Just wanna @#&@ing play" and they don't care for whom.
Not any one instance is going to take down a league. However, it is the cumulative effect of these occurances that causes a league to suffer. On the club level, sometimes all it takes is one time.
But it doesn't have to be that way, and there is an approach that can and does work......
The way to prevent all of this from happening is to comply with our bylaw. It isn't too much to ask grown men to decide upon which club team is their favorite for any given lacrosse season. Decision is positive. Decision is good. It is randomness that is a sign of low intelligence. If these rules are complied with, then the following will happen: 1) Club organizers will KNOW which players are playing with them during a particular season, and which ones are not. In this way an organizer can know EXACTLY how many players to recruit, so he doesn't leave himself with too few or too many. 2) Players will be comforted to know that the players playing alongside them can be COUNTED ON, and that they will no longer need to fear some "ringer" from another league screwing up their Saturday afternoon. 3) Teams can schedule both GCLA AND non-GCLA teams, knowing that they can count on competing against an honorable opponent. 4) More players will be active in the sport. Multiple teams will no longer be recycling the same players again and again, meaning that there will be many more roster spots open for more players. 5) Club leaders will be beset with far fewer personnel worries, relieving them of many of their headaches. 6) With more enthusiastic leadership and greater team morale, the teams will actually BE BETTER. They will also stand a much better chance of long-term success. 7) The health of the league itself will be greatly improved, meaning that even more teams and more players will want to participate. 8) Even non-GCLA teams will benefit, as their rosters would be as protected as GCLA teams by this. There would also be additional benefits that would result. If players on a GCLA team are tempted to jump to a team in the other league, then that player can offer to assist his club leader in scheduling the game or games that he wants. The player can actually help make his team more acceptable to him, alleviating his NEED to jump leagues. Taken as a whole, the GCLA's bylaws and its approach are far more positive, constructive, and healthy than any envisioned situation involving the absence of such rules. It is also important to note that many of the staunchest proponents of these bylaws have years of experience with the "other" league, and see these bylaws as a remedy for the things that drove them from that "other" league in the first place. It is important to note that the GCLA DOES provide for exceptions to this rule. Every club team, over a period of time, has been involved in a situation where either their club or their opponent has shown up for a game short of players. Every club. If a GCLA team wishes to aid the weakened club by loaning them a couple of players so they can avert a forfeit on their record, they CAN do it. We have often turned a blind eye to this. But isn't this one player playing with more than one team in a season? Yes. But in this instance, there is a distinction between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. In this case, a team is not seeking to break the rules in order to gain a competitive advantage over any opponent. Rather, a team is WILLINGLY and generously giving the weakened team a "hand-up", allowing them to be a little MORE competitive than they otherwise would be. It allows the game to go on. That, my friends, is sportsmanship. That, my friends, is within the spirit of the law. That, my friends, is the GCLA way.