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September 03, 2002 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-03

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2E - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Tuesday, September 3, 2002

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Michigan could be the model for a new
lacrosse to promote to every audience

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Lacrosse has always seemed to
me to be a sport for upper
middle-class white boys who
were somehow too Abercrombified
to play soccer and tennis and golf
like the rest of us upper middle-
class white boys.
I grew up in
upstate New York
- the sports
Mecca - but all
my life, lacrosse °
has been this off-
putting after-
thought in my
consideration of
American sports. DAVID5
It is seen by HORN
many as a leisure
activity, reserved Tooting
for privileged my own
preppies - polo
for guys who don't like to ride on
horses. That view is pretty common
in the East, I think. Some guys play
lacrosse and absolutely love it; a lot
of other guys don't get it and resent
the sport and its culture.
But what about here in the Mid-
west? I got a chance to take a look
at the Michigan lacrosse team this
past April, and it reminded me that
lacrosse is a lot of fun and deserves
to receive more attention. It is at
least as good a game as soccer in
terms of complicity, pace, necessary
skill and required athleticism.
There's scoring, which Americans
can't do without, and a degree of
contact and violence that would
surely satisfy the popular appetite

when football and hockey (tame as
they really are) go into hibernation.
My hope is that, as lacrosse
spreads in popularity west of the
Appalachian Mountains (where it
has been, until recently, relatively
unknown), a new generation of ath-
letes will find a way to make it a
game for everyone.
Currently, there are 34 players on
the Wolverines' active roster; 16
hail from Connecticut, New Jersey,
New York, Massachusetts or Mary-
land. Not only are they predomi-
nantly New Englanders, but they are
also from some of the nation's
wealthiest hamlets like Chappaqua,
N.Y. and Weston, Mass. They went
to schools at places like Fordham
Prep. and Milton Academy. Not to
take anything away from these
Michigan athletes, but in a way they
represent that elitism of lacrosse
that keeps the sport from achieving
real cross-cultural and cross-coun-
try popularity.
I spoke with Michigan coach
John Paul, who assured me that the
sport is growing in cities such as
Baltimore and New York. He said
that the success of schools, like
Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Loy-
ola (MD), has prompted inner-city
athletes in Baltimore to pick up a
lacrosse stick. That news was very
Paul conceded, though, that here
in Ann Arbor, the high school ath-
letes who are choosing to play
lacrosse are ... I could have guessed
... white and upper-middle class.


But what if Michigan, like Mary-
land and Johns Hopkins, was a pre-
mier D-I team? How might that
affect the sports popularity among
minority and economically disad-
vantaged athletes in Ann Arbor and
Lacrosse ought to be embraced in
America because it is truly Ameri-
can. It has its origins in Iroquois
culture, but has been adopted by
contemporary non-Native American
I think part of why lacrosse hasn't
caught on nationally is the stereo-
types (stereotypes grounded in real-
ity) surrounding it of a sport that is
both culturally and geographically
The Michigan Athletic Depart-
ment is a number of years -per-
haps as many as 20 - from
promoting its lacrosse team to full
varsity status. When it does, a new
tradition could be born - one that
is as far removed socio-economical-
ly as it is geographically from
upstate New York and the Aber-
crombified culture of prep lacrosse.
I was impressed by Paul's aware-
ness of these negative stereotypes
-negative realities, really - sur-
rounding his sport and believe that
with him at the helm of this pro-
gram, it could be a model of Mid-
western lacrosse and a true
champion of the West.
David Horn can be reached via email
at hornd@umich.edu.


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One and done: Webb leaves



'M' to turn pro
By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
As Alan Webb walked onto the Michigan campus in Sep-
tember, he was supposed to bring home multiple national
titles to the Wolverines. He was supposed to team up with
Canadian star Nathan Brannen to form the greatest distance
running class in colligate history.
It wasn't meant to be.
Webb announced on June 17th that he would be leaving
Michigan to train at home. The All-American will take class-
es at George Mason University near his home in Reston, Va.
and train with his high school coach Scott Raczko.
Webb received much publicity after he broke the 36-year-
old American High School mile record last summer and got
off to a good start to his Michigan career when he finished
lth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last fall.
But Achilles Tendonitis kept Webb from racing during the
indoor season and Webb ran below expectations before plac-
ing 4th in the 1500m at the NCAA Championships in late
Toward the end of the outdoor season, Webb had discussed
leaving school with Raczko, the USA Track and Field 2001
NIKE Coach of the Year whom he had been close with
throughout his time in Ann Arbor. Then two weeks ago Webb

with prep coach
called Michigan coach Ron Warhurst to say that he was leav-
ing school and that he had signed with running agent Ray
"(Raczko and Webb) I'm sure had the plan for a long time,"
Warhurst said. "It had nothing to do with me."
Neither Webb nor Flynn returned calls from the Michigan
Daily, but Raczko said that Webb would take a low-key
approach for the remainder of the year while focusing on
school and training. Raczko also said that while no schedule
had been laid out for Webb, he would not race until some time
next year.
"His intention and mindset will be to prepare for the
future," Raczko said. "He is very dedicated to a .long term
But Warhurst is unclear as to where Webb would run if
Webb does indeed turn professional, which at this point
appears likely. Despite his fame nationally and on campus,
Webb ranked just 20th in the World in the Mile and 77th in
the World in the 1500m. According to Warhurst, it couldbe
five years before Webb would be in position to make an
impact on the professional circuit in Europe.
"He would be eaten alive if he was in pro races right now,"
Warhurst said. "He's got a lot of physical tools, but he needs
to learn how to race. That was pretty evident by how he raced
by the end of this season."


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