Inside Lacrosse Sponsors New MCLA Coaches Poll

It’s not breaking news, but we’ve got more thoughts from MCLA league Prez Tony Scazzero and MCLA VP of Marketing Dave Heisey on the new MCLA partnership with Inside Lacrosse.

In a move announced on the website, the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association has entered into a partnership with Inside Lacrosse as sponsor of the 2012 MCLA Coaches’ Poll.  The website will produce and maintain the poll, with the help of the MCLA Conference Directors.

The poll marks the first official partnership between the league and the preeminent lacrosse media outlet.  I figured such an occasion warranted some reflection from two of the men making it happen: League President, Tony Scazzero; and MCLA VP of Marketing, Dave Heisey.  Enjoy:

Q: Does the deal with Inside Lacrosse include increased coverage? 

Dave Heisey: “We have been in discussions with Inside Lacrosse for 2 years on how to further our relationship and work together to give maximum exposure to our organization in a mutually beneficial relationship. IL is the premier print media in our sport and both IL and the MCLA EC feel that the MCLA needs to be more visible in the publication.”

Tony Scazzero: “The goal in this deal has 3 components: 1) increase MCLA exposure, 2) reach prospective players, and 3) create excitement about the MCLA brand of lacrosse. We feel strongly that partnering with Inside Lacrosse on the Official MCLA Coaches Poll offers us these opportunities.”

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Q: How will voters for the poll be determined/selected? How will the poll be maintained and with what regularity will it be conducted?

Tony: “The poll voters will be selected by the MCLA board of directors and executive committee. They have placed criteria on the voters and will be diligent in preventing past problems that have occurred. The number of polls and further details will be released in a January announcement, jointly by IL and the MCLA.”

Q: Will this poll be used for At-Large bid consideration for the MCLA National Tournament?

Tony: “The poll is not and has not been used for quite a few years for determining AL selections. The poll’s primary functions are to have a benchmark for comparing opponents and to create MCLA conversation and enthusiasm throughout the season.”

Q: Do you view this poll and partnership as a big step for our league?  Does it add legitimacy to our league?

Dave: “This is the start of a partnership that will evolve in the near future and will continue to evolve as we not only continue to grow the game but also cast a national light on the great players, coaches and institutions that comprise the MCLA.”

Tony: “Legitimacy is difficult to quantify, so our efforts are to place our brand and product in front of as many people as possible both in and outside the lacrosse world.”

Thanks for your time Tony and Dave!

Tony saved his best quote for last, dropping the knowledge bomb.  If anyone around the league has any doubt that our president has his eyes on the bigger prize, that quote about legitimacy should soothe your worried hearts.  Too often the backseat drivers for league administration call for the benediction by “traditional” lacrosse media outlets to prove our worth.  Tony knows that we do not gain anything by association alone, it must be our game, our league, our product that brings eyeballs back.  This poll is an important step, and didn’t happen by accident.  It will acquaint more lacrosse fans (and hopefully more non-lacrosse fans) with our league and the teams competing within.  But it is a piece of a much larger puzzle, and it is up to the individual teams to continue to grind, and to continue to grow.

As for my thoughts on Inside Lacrosse, it is obviously exciting to gain more favored status within their big glossy pages.  It also doesn’t hurt that Michigan just got on the cover again, even if they represent the varsity ranks now:

Taking a closer look, it’s somewhat disconcerting that the magazine’s website has yet to make mention of the poll, as of this writing.  Further, the website never honored the sponsorship of the previous MCLA polls, like the Lax Mag poll which has been sponsored by adidas for the last two years.  Just check out the rankings page and you’ll see no mention of the three stripes brand, which I’m sure the exec at adidas who paid cash for that sponsorship would be just thrilled to learn about.  Does IL have something against the brand?  Or do they just not respect the MCLA enough to honor its sponsorships?  It might seem like semantics, but in the world of big-money advertising dollars it’s moves like that which strain (or even break) valued relationships.

At the very least, I’d keep an eye on Inside Lacrosse to see how they continue to cover the MCLA.  It’s uncharted territory for both parties.

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