Sunday, April 5, 2009

My New Sport

Last night my friend Jim invited me to attend an indoor Lacrosse game at the Rose Garden. I have only seen an actual Lacrosse game (not a match!) only once before and that on television.

My impression of the game based on reputation was that of an athletic, tough, somewhat exotic game played primarily by Ivy League East Coast rich kids.

As played indoors the game is a lot like hockey without skates. There is stick checking, high speed collisions and frequent fights. The game also reminds one of basketball, with set offensive plays, picks and dunk like shots on goal. It is fun to watch. The players, apparently, are almost to the last man, Canadians. Apparently there are not enough professional hockey jobs to go around. I was surprised to learn that most of the players actually still live in Canada and only come to Portland for the games.

The crowd is decidedly blue collar, with many fans outfitted in official Lumberjax regalia. This is cute on the kids and a little ridiculous on the adults. In total I am guessing that there were close to 8000 fans present.

All in all I liked the game, but here is why I probably won't be attending again:

1. Noise Level - In typical Rose Garden fashion the obnoxious rock/heavy metal music incessantly boomed at least 80 decibels or above. I couldn't here anything said to me unless the speaker was located no more than 5" from my left ear.

2. General Adolescent Environment - Apparently the game isn't enough entertainment. The giant overhead scoreboard when not showing replays of controversial or violent play action showed everything from Yosemite Sam clips to close ups of the Jax Dancers. the whole thing reminded me of a professional wrestling match, replete with the gravel voice announcer screaming "YOUR PORTLAND LUMBERJAX" at every opportunity. Of course the entire set piece would not have been complete without the requisite mascot, Jaxon, shown at right preparing to cross check a 3 year old waif.

3. Jax Dancers - What would drive someone to want to do this? I suppose it is like the minor leagues for the Blazer Dancers. I particularly enjoyed the three lugnuts seated behind me whose invariable response to the Jax gyrations was an endless debate on which of the dancers they would like to "do". This greatly contributed to the adolescent environment and enjoyment of "sport".

4. Food and Drink - Jim and I enjoyed one too many beers. For once, I didn't even look when it was my turn to purchase. I am guessing the beverages probably were in the double digit range for a pint. I also enjoyed watching the vendors pedaling various neon colored confections and multicolored soft drinks in the stands. This may be a contributing factor to the general obesity and poor complexion among many of the fans.

5. Our National Anthem - After the teams were escorted onto the pitch by long lines of high fiving elementary students with flashing lights and ear splitting sound effects it was time for Patriotism. A high school choir took care of the singing (quite well actually) while the fans stood and searched in vain for the flag. All I could find was a stupendous electronic monitor which circled the entire arena, flashing red white and blue stars, stripes and strange waving patterns.

At the end of the day (or evening as it were) I must thank my pal Jim for introducing me to lacrosse. I will however, in the future, pass on the adolescent, deafening, over sexed Arena version in favor of the more traditional outdoor game. Perhaps the Iroquois had it right. No sound system, not a lot of rules, played to the death to settle cross tribal grudges. But then again, maybe they would have enjoyed the JAX dancers?

Oh, and by the way, the Lumberjax won (over the Colorado Mammoths) after a 12-12 tie in you guessed it; SUDDEN DEATH!

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