Friday, April 15, 2016

Lacrosse nears official IHSA sanctioning

The likelihood of girls’ and boys’ lacrosse becoming officially sanctioned as high school varsity sports could get a boost from the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors this month.

At their April 19 meeting, IHSA directors are expected to vote on adding lacrosse as a state-sanctioned sport, a move that could bring about a state tournament competition by 2018. According to IHSA spokesman Matt Troha, who also is the association’s lacrosse administrator, the move has been a long time in coming.

“Back in October 2009, the IHSA board of directors approved the adoption of a boys’ and girls’ state series beginning in the spring of 2011, if schools could meet a participation quota of 65 boys teams and 40 girls teams,” he said.

Troha notes that the girls’ programs have reached that level repeatedly, but there has been fewer than 65 boys’ programs statewide.

One concern is that some schools new to organizing the sport do not yet have varsity teams and don’t want to participate in a varsity playoff series. Also, a number of high schools operate under district bylaws that require a sport to be fully funded by the school to participate in IHSA post-season play. Budget constraints or local politics may prevent these schools from expanding their sports, Troha said.

On its website, IHSA identifies boys’ and girls’ lacrosse as “emerging sports,” a qualifier that places them a notch below fully sanctioned sports, which have IHSA-sponsored state tournaments.

Troha said when the sport is officially sanctioned, IHSA will conduct the championship series. This means the playoff games would be seeded, scheduled, and organized by the IHSA, and the championship game would be held at a location selected by the organization.

Currently, only 10 other states have high school boys’ and girls’ lacrosse qualified as a varsity sport.