By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/24/11
Close to 200 teams and nearly 4,000 boys are competing in the Patriot Games Youth Lacrosse Summer Showcase and Festival at three Bucks County sites.
The two-day event concludes today at Herbst Complex in Plumstead, New Hope-Solebury High and the Palisades high school campus.
Age divisions beginning at U-11 through high school varsity are competing with an added emphasis on sportsmanship in this unique tournament now in its fourth year. Each player must sign a code of conduct form and teams are graded after every game by the referee on sportsmanship – which involves all areas of their conduct on and off the field (including their parents and supporters on the sidelines).The tournament hopes to identify and recognize a team in each bracket for its good sportsmanship over the course of the event.
The tournament – featuring 185 teams from 14 states – is headed by Princeton University coach Chris Bates, former Swarthmore All-American Pat Carney and fellow former Philadelphia Wing and Philadelphia Lacrosse Association board member and webmaster Scott Growney.
“It’s all about having fun,” said Growney. “And there is no reason not to promote behavior consistent with that or to encourage all participants and fans to respect the officials and honor the game.
“We are hoping to raise awareness. There is something very special about lacrosse and the lacrosse community, and we don’t want the game to lose that intangible quality as lacrosse grows and become more mainstream. It’s always been our philosophy as tournament directors to emphasize sportsmanship and an ‘honor the game’ orientation. This is just an extension of that to reinforce the message.”
The directors posted signs all over the complexes that state, “Honor the Kids and Honor the Game.” Those signs serve as subtle reminders regarding the tournament’s expectations.
“All the kids sign the code of conduct,” Growney said. “We have tried to be proactive in communications with the teams, we’re trying to set high standards. We want our tournament to be different, something kids, coaches and parents want to come to, something we can be proud of in terms of sideline culture and the play on the field.
“If there is an incident, our officials know we will support them, they are doing the best they can and everyone should understand they are not infallible. I am sure we will still have issues periodically, but we’re not the least bit reluctant to intervene if the circumstances warrant and remind everyone of the tournament ground rules and the goal of getting to higher ground.”
“We have a lot of very good teams from Long Island, New Jersey, New England, Maryland and other areas of the country, as well as many of the fine travel teams from the Philadelphia area. It’s become a very competitive environment and teams want to win for themselves and their regions.
“We just want to temper that to some extent and reinforce the behavioral benchmarks. It’s OK to play to win. We just want to see play that’s fair and promote conduct that’s consistent with the ‘honor of the game’ philosophy. Hopefully, folks will embrace it and we’ll see more of it.”
One of the top supporters of the emphasis on sportsmanship was tournament official, Dave Seidman, the PIAA state-wide Rules Interpreter and the Chairman of the US Lacrosse Training Committee.
“It’s gratifying to be able to reward a team that exemplifies what we’re looking for in sportsmanship and also to let a team know they can make some improvements,” he said. “We’re used to hearing about the short end of sportsmanship. Now, we can actually put a number to rate the teams. That is gratifying to officials.”