Lacrosse, Rugby and Skeletons in the Closet

As I feel that Team Handball can learn from the successes and failures of other minor sports in the United States I try to follow what’s happening to other lesser known sports in the US. Here’s an update on recent news items related to Lacrosse, Rugby, and Skeleton in the US.

Lacrosse

As anyone who follows US news already knows, the sport of Lacrosse has become a front page news topic as a result of an alleged rape by Duke University players. What you might not know is that Lacrosse has seen a remarkable surge in participation in the last 10 years. Sports Illustrated writer and NPR commentator, Frank Deford, discusses this in context with recent rape case in his weekly pod cast: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5363527
As you might expect, even bad publicity can be good publicity when it increases interest in the sport. Certainly, laxcast.com: www.laxcast.com has also seen a surge in interest. Their site model, in which they except content from multiple sources is one that I see our site also adopting.

Rugby

Well, if you thought only Team Handball had National Office problems, you’d be wrong. Recently, both the USA Rugby CEO and National Team Coach submitted resignations within only a couple of days of each. The situation has gotten so bad that National Team players have written a letter chastising the board over it’s handling of the situation: http://americanrugbynews.com/2006/04/28/players-unhappy-with-coaching-situation
Living in France, I’ve become a big fan of Rugby and regularly listen to the Americanrugbynews.com podcast: www.americanrugbynews.com It’s incredibly striking to hear the same arguments between national team and youth development repeatedly made, as well as the need for TV broadcasts. The current CEO that was hired for USA Rugby had previously worked for Salt Lake City Olympic Games and had been brought in primarily to use his connections to bring in the sponsorships and TV deals through his marketing connections. According to several articles at this blog: www.gainline.us he has not been able to bring in the dollars and that has led to him being forced out. One thing that I will give USA Rugby credit for though, is that they haven’t entirely hidden under a rock. In particular, they held a telephone press conference in the midst of all this turmoil and took questions from the above mentioned internet sites (and others) that cover rugby in the USA.

Skeleton

The Winter Olympic sport of Skeleton has voted to allow the USOC to take it over and reorganize it.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/26/sports/26olympics.html?_r=1&oref=login

The USOC had not been happy with their handling of a sexual harassment case and a drug case and had indicated that they were going to pull funding from the Skeleton Federation. Apparently, the Skeleton Federation was given the option of USOC management takeover or decertification. My understanding is that most USA Handball Board Members would also have preferred the USOC management takeover option, but this was not on the table. It would be interesting to know why the USOC made the decertification decision for Pentathlon and Handball, but went the reorganization route with Tae-Kwon-Do and Skeleton. Probably, some legal reason, but that is simply speculation on my part.