To the Editor:
I am one of a small group of dads who started the St. Charles co-op high school lacrosse club almost 20 years ago. A combination of talented athletes, dedicated coaching and outstanding parental support has led both East and North teams to now be consistently ranked among the top teams in the state.
Kaneland lacks a co-op team, so four of their ambitious freshmen players joined the Geneva club to continue their dreams of playing high school lacrosse. Lacrosse is not an official Illinois High School Association-approved sport at this time, but that has not stopped the Upstate Eight Conference from interjecting itself into these young players’ lives under the pretense that lacrosse is an emerging sport. Therefore, the conference has decreed that the Kaneland players cannot join Geneva, stating that allowing these young men to continue to pursue their love of the sport with Geneva would set a bad precedent.
What an utterly disgraceful and arrogant action on their part. Exactly what bad precedent are they afraid of? The precedent of letting young athletes fulfill their dreams, or allowing the sport to continue to grow and flourish, or rewarding dedicated athletes by encouraging their opportunity to compete? In my opinion, this is a disgusting power grab by a misguided organization exercising self-serving judgment, and simply intent on protecting their little fiefdom within the popular sport of lacrosse. Sadly, this is being done at the expense of the young athletes they are supposed to be encouraging and developing.
The Geneva club is a private entity, and these young men are private individuals. The Upstate Eight has no right of jurisdiction over their lives at this point and hopefully never will.
However, the organizations are right on one point – lacrosse is definitely an emerging sport. A recent Wall Street Journal article cited that participation in certain youth sports is down 4 percent in some areas, but an exception is lacrosse, with participation in 2012 up 158 percent from 2008, with 770,000 youth involved organizationally.
If the club structure in Illinois votes to join the IHSA, they will forever lose control over the sport they have worked so hard to develop.
The Upstate Eight has now sent a clear message as to how it intends to extend its insidious tentacles, and it is an ominous warning of what is to come. Do not let it happen.
Steve Thompson Sr.