Participants from a Sankofa Lacrosse Clinic in New York prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This article appears in the November edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, available exclusively to US Lacrosse members. Join or renew today! Thank you for your support.

The days and months of 2020 have been a blur of near daily upheaval. A series of existential challenges has blanketed our country and disrupted our lives in so many ways. Even the most basic outlets, such as the comfort of social interaction and the joy of sports participation, have been interrupted indefinitely, leaving so many of us alone in thoughts of how and when we will emerge from such paralysis. Helpless and caught in the middle are tens of millions of children whose healthy development depends on the opportunity to live active, social lives. 

Given such extraordinary circumstances, it’s easy — and logical — to focus attention and energy on casting blame for the misfortunes we are experiencing. But doing so distracts from the opportunity to reflect on and invest in improving the aspects of life over which we have greatest influence.  

Lacrosse may seem trivial compared to the seemingly overwhelming political and social vitriol that has become so polarizing, but we have a responsibility to assure that the sport emerges from such disruption better and stronger. An inspiring article in the last issue of US Lacrosse Magazine (“15 Ways Lacrosse Will Come Back Stronger,” September/October 2020) offers a number of considerations to achieve this goal.

The most transformative opportunity lies in the very first consideration noted in the article — that the sport has become far more socially conscious. A bright light has been shined on an inconsistent lacrosse culture that has not been as welcoming to all as it must be. Following significant reflection and ongoing conversation, US Lacrosse announced a series of commitments to better address this lingering concern.  

Perhaps the most powerful of these commitments is the creation and recent release of a standardized anti-harassment and discrimination policy and associated corrective action plan intended to assure consistency in addressing inappropriate conduct by players, coaches, officials and fans. A coalition of stakeholders is being formed to provide advocacy and influence toward the ultimate goal of assuring this policy is adopted, promoted and enforced by every league, club and tournament in the country.

The opportunity to play lacrosse in a supportive, welcoming environment is the right of every lacrosse player, coach and official — and the responsibility of anyone who has influence over that experience.

Steve Stenersen is the CEO of US Lacrosse.