Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Regan: Lacrosse glory deserves some national fanfare

Mmmm …Towson, Md. It just sounds like a great venue for a national championship. It boasts a stadium named after the late, great Johnny Unitas. Naturally, it is where the Northwestern women’s lacrosse team picked up its fourth and fifth NCAA titles.

I don’t have anything against Towson University, and, from all my experiences there last year, it appeared like a nice, mid-size college campus with decent East Coast sports.

But I do have a problem with the treatment the women’s lacrosse championship received from the NCAA and the national media.

Why was the Wildcats’ short trip to College Station, Texas for the NCAA women’s tennis tournament broadcast in streaming video online while every women’s lacrosse fan not living in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country was forced to use CBS College Sports or its Gametracker online? Maybe that is Towson’s fault. Its athletic department provided crabcakes (one of two things Maryland does well) last year to the media, but cannot chat up some network to broadcast the game that isn’t CBS College Sports. Maybe Versus, ESPN360.com, or even the dreaded ESPN Classic?

Just anything that would help Cats fans not paying Comcast or DirecTV their first-born children to watch the game would be dandy.

If the NCAA can mandate scholarships and funding based on Title IX, why can’t they also mandate that if a men’s sport is on a network (men’s lacrosse?), then said network must carry the corresponding women’s championship as well? ESPN tries to make women’s basketball palatable to the public, so why not go the same route? Seriously.

Turning on the television last weekend, there was men’s lacrosse, bass fishing and softball on ESPN – all in HD, no less.

If the WNBA can get on ESPN, the best collegiate team in the nation – sorry, Urban Meyer – should be on national television on a channel not in the 600s.

The Women’s College World Series claims to be one of the fastest growing NCAA events in the nation, but last year’s final drew just 7,062 fans. Compare that to this year’s lacrosse final, at a football stadium not built for the record-setting semifinal average of 7,032 fans that watched NU grab another national title.

Boo-yah, softball. But guess what: For the foreseeable future, that NU-less sport will be on every ESPN network under the sun.

The only national media not named the Associated Press covering the event was a fan named Michael Wilbon – the cheerleader-in-chief for NU sports. And all that produced was a Washington Post column about how he felt so good to not be busy reporting. Wilbon could have covered the game, but instead focused on how happy he was not to be covering the NBA Conference Finals.

This travesty doesn’t stop with ESPN and the media. The NCAA deserves a good portion of the blame as well. Why do the Upstate New York meatheads that make it to the men’s lacrosse semifinals get to play in NFL stadiums? While there would be a lot of empty seats in a football stadium for the women’s championship, there might be more actual fans relishing the chance to cross Towson off their plane tickets.

Not to mention, big-time schools are clamoring to get into the sport. Florida is joining the ALC next year after spending some big bucks to make women’s lacrosse a varsity sport. Women’s lacrosse is becoming a big-time sport.

Johnny Unitas was a great quarterback, but the eponymous stadium, despite having lights, makes Ryan Field look like a high school venue. Playing lacrosse on the basketball court in “The Wire” would draw more fans just to potentially see a shooting.

So shame on you, NCAA and ESPN. You relegated the most successful current dynasty in college sports to deep within your Web site. You kept it off The Lead on Sportscenter. You failed to send a single noteworthy reporter to actually cover the game, not that anything noteworthy happened.

If the NCAA is really serious about promoting female sports, it should think about changing how it completely mistreats one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, led by the 31 women right here on this campus.

Assistant Sports Editor Brian Regan is a McCormick senior. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Regan: Lacrosse glory deserves some national fanfare