As a former employee of the Edmonton Rush, I remembering joking in office that if we asked ten Rush fans what colour the blue piece of paper was that we would get ten different answers. Do you know what the one subject was that split the fans 50/50? The National Lacrosse League mandate that music is to be played non-stop throughout the game. I can openly and honestly say that people gave up season tickets over the fact the “damned” music played all game long while other people attended one game and bought season tickets because of the music.

First let’s explain why the music is constantly played. In hockey you have the sound of skates carving up the ice to muffle the noises made when players are getting hacked and whacked when they have possession of the puck. For NBA basketball games you have the squeaking of shoes on the court muffling those same noises. In the carpeted environment of a NLL arena, you would hear every word insert player name says as he cuts through the middle to score a goal including a celebration that also may not include family friendly language. It does not take much imagination to figure out what players are saying when they are getting close to dropping the gloves for a fight, without the music you would hear loud and clear. All leagues smartly appeal to families (think 4 tickets sold is better than 1) therefore the NLL had to come up with a way to keep the game rated PG.

Secondly, the music is the trigger to the environment. Edmonton Oiler fans are trained to cheer when the scoreboard tells them. FC Edmonton fans chant at random times throughout the game without a scoreboard telling them to. The Edmonton Oil Kings do a great job gearing their in-house music and theatrics to involving the younger fans in attendance. The NLL attempts to use music to enhance their fans’ enjoyment at games. Speaking from personal experience, my non-sports fan kids enjoyed coming to lacrosse games because they knew they would hear songs they liked. It is a happy medium between the library that can be Rogers Place during an Oiler game, and the constant prompting you get at Edmonton Eskimo football games. Are there the typical “make some noise” stuff at lacrosse games? Yes. Aside from that the constant rumbles and murmurs in the crowd are organically made by the music adding to the roughness, toughness and overall excitement of the game.

photos by Paige Matlock

The topic of the level the music is playing at is trickier to deal with. Sorta like what temperature to set a church at…while one person is fanning themselves with the bulletin note another person is doing up their coat zipper. The Edmonton Rush would turn the music up during their offensive positions to make communication for the other teams’ defence more difficult. The fans would not be told to cheer, they would feel the music get louder and follow suit becoming louder themselves. When the Rush were on defence the music volume would go down. I actually fielded calls on this subject with people hating the variance in music volume, you will never please everyone

Speaking as a former volunteer in-house announcer/DJ for the Sherwood Park Crusaders my temper flared when I saw someone taking to social media to complain about hearing the same song “three times”. If you hear the same song ‘three times’ at a NLL Lacrosse game the only valid excuse is that it is a goal song or the Star Wars Imperial Theme during penalty calls or the Jaws theme during power plays.

Aside from complaints that music is too loud or the genre of the music is not what they like, something we would hear a lot in the office was, “I came to watch the best lacrosse players in the world, not attend a concert”. These are the best lacrosse players in the world and they know coming into the NLL that music will be played throughout the game. Many players have stopped playing the NLL brand of lacrosse since the days of the Edmonton Rush, not once have I read it is because there is music played in the background. There are fans, myself included, who appreciate the 2-for-1 package the NLL offers with a competitive game blended together with a concert and without hesitation will tell you that attending a NLL game is something you will want to do again and again.

The Music Dilemma In The National Lacrosse League
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