The new lacrosse league you didn’t know you needed

The Premier Lacrosse Leagues logo, the newest addition to North American sports leagues.

Photo Credit: PLL

The Premier Lacrosse Leagues logo, the newest addition to North American sports leagues.

by Ryan Hornish, Copy Editor

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Imagine if the top athlete of your favorite sport created their own sports league. Well, “America’s lacrosse superstar” Paul Rabil has with the creation of the Premier Lacrosse Leauge.

After Years of inadequate pay, poor facilities, poor broadcasting, an advertisement, Major League Lacrosse has pushed away young hopefuls looking to play pro lacrosse as a job until now. Thanks to Paul Rabil athletes new and old, boys and girls, men and women have something to look towards now for the future of Lacrosse, the Premier Lacrosse Leauge.  

Created by the Native Americans, lacrosse transitioned into public light by Europeans colonizing North America, years later the lacrosse would make its way to the world stage as an Olympic sport played at the 1904 and 1908 Olympic games, later becoming a demonstration sport before being entirely fazed out due to lack of popularity. Then in 1987 lacrosse was revitalized, a professional indoor lacrosse league was formed called the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League with its first game ever on January 9, 1987, with the Philadelphia Wings playing the New Jersey Saints. New Jersey would win 11-8 in front of a 5,000 plus crowd of spectators. The league would change its name twice finally resting on the National Lacrosse League and with an increase of popularity and viewership, it seemed as if the professional game of Lacrosse was catching on.

On the left, Box Lacrosse, the indoor version of lacrosse with 6 players, goalie included, from each team on the field, everyone plays with offensive sticks and are all tasked with scoring on the opponents net. On the right Field Lacrosse is shown. The original way to play lacrosse with ten players on the field. The midfield attacks the oppositions net while also defending their teams net. Attack strictly scores goals and defense has 6-foot poles and help the goalie defend their goal.

 

In 1999 a newly formed outdoor lacrosse league was created, the MLL or Major Lacrosse League, its first season would be played in 2001 with virtually no competition other than the LXM pro tour in 2009 that would fade away over a year later. The MLL would send its best players to the US Lacrosse National Team to play in the FIL World Championship, lacrosse’s version of the Olympics, and has been a monopoly of Lacrosse in the United States until October of 2018.

Now after years of complaints and angered players, Paul Rabil, the most well-known lacrosse player in the world has answered the cries for change by his fellow athletes. Rabil a member of Team USA, The New York Lizards, and a Red Bull Athlete has created his own league known as the Premier Lacrosse Leauge.

Rabil’s professional career started back in 2008 as the number one pick in the MLL draft after graduating from Johns Hopkins University and later he would hit headlines being known as “Lacrosse’s million dollar man” which he had achieved from sponsors and his status in the league, now he’s the Co-owner of the most hyped up lacrosse league with NBC Sports broadcasting games on live TV and the Raine Group, Chernin Group, CAA and Blum Capital helping finance and invest in the league as well as former members of the lacrosse world making private investments like Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan.

Comparing the two leagues is tough since the PLL hasn’t started any league game until June 2019 but all the components are there with 151 players, 25 members of Team USA, 81 NCAA All Americans and 10 Tewaartaron Winners (the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse) and nine MLL MVPs, viewers will be able to expect the very best players on 6 teams with 6 of lacrosses top coaches on a tour based system and the recently announced partnership with the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League and is one of the few leagues with gender unification and hopefully gender equality as well.

The PLL season will start in June 2019 and last for 14 weeks which includes an all-star game and championship game and will pass through 12 major US cities under a tour-based model with a festival like atmosphere in appropriate venues, possibly Major League Soccer Stadiums. Athletes won’t have to worry about living in the city they play for since the league is tour based and teams will coordinate practice, travel, and housing, unlike the MLL which requires players to stay near their home cities.

Players in the PLL will also receive better salaries than athletes and give players benefits and equity in the league and will be the first pro sport to do so, in the MLL players are not given those benefits and are paid an estimated $16,000 to around $25,000 minimum which means most players have second Jobs. The PLL will make its player’s full-time employees as well unlike the MLL but, days before the announcement of the PLL the MLL said it was going to raise its salary cap by 51 percent but the exact amount players would now make is still undisclosed. Sadly not all of the lacrosses top players can come over to the PLL just yet since they are stuck in contracts with the MLL for the remainder of the year but it’s predicted that players are likely to join the league soon after those contracts expire. With all of this talent and equality to the player, it would be a smart idea to switch over to or begin watching the PLL once its season starts.  

The PLL has also gained an edge with the partnership of NBC Sports who will air PLL games on live TV on NBC Sports and some games on NBC reaching an estimated 83 Million NBC Sports Viewers and 116 Million NBC Viewers, this beats the MLL who signed with Lax Sports Network, a website that only reaches a select group of people. The PLL will be airing its first game in June of this year.   

Rabil was the spark the lacrosse world needed and he set it ablaze after the announcement of the PLL. He caused the MLL to go on full lockdown to climb out of the figurative hole it had dug itself by rebranding and expanding salaries. I believe as a lacrosse player and viewer of the sport that this is the shakeup lacrosse has needed for almost 2 decades and it has finally happened. This could lead to lacrosse going mainstream and can allow kids to grow up and say “I want to be a Pro-Lacrosse player”. The PLL is what will make lacrosse the sport of the future and due to this massive announcement, I feel as if this could lead to maybe an international league and definitely will once again be incorporated to the Olympics as a true sport.

Thanks to Paul Rabil and his brother Michael Rabil, they have created the most hyped up, player friendly, well-communicated lacrosse league in the United States after listening to those around him and is why I’m happy to see lacrosse step to the mainstream. They have successfully brought back the thought to the younger generations that the title lacrosse player is now a less risky job title.