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New OLA Policy could force a participation decision for some PLL pros

The Ontario Lacrosse Association unveiled a new policy to address player participation in what they deem non-sanctioned events. It was written December 22nd. The policy, as written, would restrict players who want to participate in any OLA competitions from playing in other leagues between the second Monday in March and the end of October. This does not apply to adult rec leagues, high school leagues, or universities.

A player who participates in a non-sanctioned competition would, under the policy, be suspended, making them ineligible to participate in any OLA events for the remainder of the current season as well as the following season.

The full text of the new OLA policy can be viewed here.

For most American or field lacrosse fans, the upswing of this is fairly straightforward. Once a player participates in a PLL event during the window outlined in the OLA policy, that player can’t compete in any OLA events that summer or the next summer, which would include Mann Cup competition among other high level events. In the past, pro field players have competed in the summer, and then once their PLL team is eliminated from contention or the season ends, they join their summer box club for the remainder of the summer box season. By the end of PLL season, most of the summer box season is over, so players who join their summer box club typically do so just for the tail end of the playoffs or Mann Cup finals. 

The PLL reportedly does not allow players to compete in both Mann Cup competition and PLL play at the same time. Players who have done so in the past either are placed on the Holdout List or cut from their PLL club entirely. There are pro players who have decided against playing in the PLL in favor of pursuing a Mann Cup. Last summer, Lyle Thompson notably went on sabbatical from the PLL and spent the summer closer to home and with his family, while winning a Mann Cup with Six Nations Chiefs.

The OLA policy states 

“As a proud member of both Lacrosse Canada and World Lacrosse, the OLA has a recognized history of developing many of the world’s best lacrosse players. Despite, or perhaps because of, the OLA’s success in delivering quality programs and leagues throughout the province, other private entities operating outside of the provincial and national governance structure form leagues or host events from time to time that claim to offer various levels of play. These non-sanctioned organizations do not support the development of the OLA or its clubs. Furthermore, they operate with limited consideration to the impact that their events have on our organization, but still attempt to utilize resources already developed by Ontario Lacrosse and its members. We have no way of ensuring whether these events implement many of the fundamental safeguards that are in place in both OLA leagues/programs and the Lacrosse Canada Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model. They may or may not be using the same rules that are in place to protect player safety or provide adequate insurance coverage for participants.”

It continues,

“OLA members are hereby notified that non-sanctioned participation during the OLA event window at any level of play, will result in immediate suspension of OLA membership, and will affect future eligibility in National Championships (Team Ontario, Founders Cup, Minto Cup, Presidents Cup, Mann Cup, Alumni Cup, First Nations Trophy, etc.) and legitimate international competition and championships (Team Canada) (Lacrosse Canada Policy 5.1.2, Participant Eligibility).”

That’s heavy stakes for players. They can still choose for themselves where they play, but at this point, both the PLL and OLA have rules in place that forbid their players to participate in other competitions during the summer.

There are PLL players who have received, or are seriously considering, offers to forgo play in the PLL next summer and exclusively play for a Mann Cup. PLL has offered their players who also play box lacrosse additional money to solely play in the PLL. Through that lens, this is actually good for players. Leagues competing for the best players in the world means those players have the leverage to make more money playing, wherever it may be. That’s a win for the sport. Unfortunately, a loser in all this could be the fans, as a field fan’s favorite player may opt to only play summer box, and vice versa.

1 comment

1 Comment

Quite frankly, I don't really care about the professionals. The impact much more serious for the minor players. There are organizations that target box lacrosse players and entice them with promises of full ride scholarships in the NCAA. These are for profit organizations and they do not necessarily follow player development best practices. they operate outside CLA, OLA and other minor organizations and often poach the best players from association to showcase their "club". This is the likely target of the policy and I don't blame the OLA for putting something forward. Having read the policy, it's not the right approach. But It might be the catalysts for the discussions that are long overdue.

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