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FIL Olympic Rule Proposals Review

Uganda in their game against Bermuda in the World Championships...

If you haven’t heard, last week it was reported the FIL (Federation of International Lacrosse) has proposed revolutionary changes to the game at the Olympic level. Some of the more controversial rules amongst fans are as follows:

- 4 eight-minute periods, running clock

- Field size: 70 meters x 36 meters

- 10-man rosters

- No long poles

- No faceoffs after goal, goalie must clear

- Faceoffs only at start of periods and overtime (if it occurs)

- Eliminate violent collisions (no laying guy out on crease)

- 6v6 (5v5 when you don’t count goalie)

From what I’ve seen on social media, the reception has been extremely negative. Frankly, I do not know what the FIL was thinking when it released these proposals. It seems like they are changing the game, just to change the game.

I read these rules have been proposed to help the pace of the game, but I don’t buy that. If the FIL is worried about game length, just have two twenty-minute periods with running clock. The game would only be eight minutes longer. Hockey has three twenty-minute periods that add up to an hour, so a forty-minute game would be fine.

For field size, it seems the FIL wants to turn Olympic lacrosse into a mix of field and box lacrosse. Having no long poles and a 6v6 setting only strengthens this view. The banning of long poles is one of my biggest gripes with the proposals. How do you have outdoor lacrosse without a long pole? Opposing offenses will have so much space, it won’t even be fair for short stick defensive midfielders. This doesn’t take into account how tired these guys will get with four subs.

The 10-man roster is an atrocious decision. The game moves at such a quick pace already, but it will be more like a basketball game in terms of players running back and forth. Basically, if you are not a two-way midfielder, you are not making the roster. Most lacrosse rosters consist of 30 players at a minimum. I would be fine with a 20-man roster. I don’t think it’s fair that so many deserving players will be excluded in representing their countries solely due to the limited amount of spaces. The players trying out will be fighting for 8 spots since two will go to a goalie and faceoff specialist.

Faceoffs are another issue I have with the proposals. I don’t get why we don’t have a faceoff after every goal. Imagine if hockey had goalies clear the puck after giving up a goal. It would be terrible, especially against a team with a good forecheck. I feel this is to give other countries (not USA or Canada) a chance to get the ball, but will it really give them a better chance? For example, if Germany gets scored on by Canada, they may struggle to clear the ball against an aggressive ride. The stick skills of European players are clearly not up to par with their North American counterparts, so it would be less fair to force a team with lower stick skills to clear the ball every time they are scored on. I think they would have a better chance getting and keeping the ball of a faceoff, solely because there are so many strategies. You can win the clamp, you can jam your opponent, or you can win a contested groundball in a scrum. With the elimination of the faceoff, it will be easier, not harder for superior teams to run the score up.

Finally, I hate that they want to eliminate all “violent” collisions. Their failure to define a violent collision makes it more frustrating. Does this mean you cannot lay out a man with the ball on crease? Are you not allowed to throw a slap check down on someone’s hands when they go to shoot? Is a lift check and then a hack down on someone’s stick when the ball hits the ground too violent? Is men’s Olympic lacrosse going to be watered down to where they play defense like in the girl’s game? That’d be awful (sorry if you are a girl’s lacrosse fan). Until the FIL defines a “violent” collision, these are the kind of things we have to wonder.

If you couldn’t tell, I am not a fan of these rule proposals. If the committee wants box lacrosse, great. If the committee wants field lacrosse, great. I don’t care what type it is. But an established lacrosse type needs to be played in the Olympics, not some weird hybrid that does a disservice to the sport. I believe that committee is changing the game, just to change it up; however, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Hopefully, the negative backlash to these proposals will make the FIL wake up to what they are doing. Otherwise, it looks like we will get a watered-down version of lacrosse, which the game’s founders would be ashamed of.

Agree or disagree with me? Great! Feel free to tell me what you think on Instagram (logical_lacrosse) or Twitter (Logical_Lacrosse). All comments are welcome!

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