Dukes of Awesome

Are All Titles Created Equal? by buckybrooks

It\'s gotta be the shoes

In case you didn’t know, Buffalo’s most successful sports franchise plays for its 4th World Title on this weekend. Thats right – on Saturday the faithful will put on their orange, fill Banditland, and cheer nearly non-stop for two hours. It’s the Portland Lumberjax vs. the Buffalo Bandits for the NLL’s Champion’s Cup.

To try to put this game in perspective, Channel 4 Sportscaster Paul Peck asks, are the “Bandits – Real Champions?”

If [the Bandits] win, will it be a “real” championship for Buffalo?

Peck seems to think not.

In the big picture of sports, lacrosse is a minor player. Bigger here than most places, but still minor. It has no national following, no national TV and no nationally recognized stars. Its a niche sport, big in the few regions of North America that follow lacrosse….it shouldn’t be considered a championship for this title-starved town

Peck didn’t dismiss the passion of Bandits fans. And with good reason: this post quickly became, by FAR, the most commented post in the blog. In fact, the total number of comments from all posts he made on the Bills don’t even equal the responses he got from this single Bandits piece.

So you can guess that the respondents didn’t agree with him. And it gets ugly.

Peck tried to clarify his point in later posts – mainly that a NLL title holds less weight on a national level then an NFL or NHL crown. Well obviously – I don’t think anyone would argue Saturday’s game will have a Super Bowl-esque media circus. The problem with Peck’s post, and what angered fans so much, was his asking if Saturday’s game was a “real” championship. This isn’t the WWE, Peck. There are no scripted fake titles. People have followed this team for years – investing both time and money – and to tell Bandits fans that “it shouldn’t be considered a championship” is a slap in the face that reeks of arrogance. And its insulting to the players who sweat and bleed for 4 months for the city of Buffalo.

The funny thing is that Peck mentions that a Sabres title would count as a real championship. Outside of a handful of major hockey markets nobody cares about the NHL in the US. Yes, more people care about hockey then lacrosse, but the vast majority of Americans don’t care about the NHL – there are entire regions of the country who can’t name who won the Cup last year. But would that have made a Stanley Cup any less meaningful? Would it have made it any less celebrated? Of course not. Nor should it have.

The truth is, ANY title is a title… so who’s the jury on what titles matter? Paul Peck? ESPN? The media hoopla? The “blogsphere”? It’s fine that Paul Peck doesn’t think that the title is real. But I don’t care what Peck thinks, nor do lacrosse fans. To each their own – I couldn’t care less who wins the English Premiere League, but that doesn’t diminish the significance for whoever wins it this year. And nor should I tell EPL fans that their title isn’t “real” because we don’t care about it in America. Because that would just be ignorant, right Paul?

So decide for yourself if an NLL title has any meaning. But for me, I’ll be downtown with 18,000 orange painted fans, hopefully toasting a championship team. And even if the only people who care are the 18,000 people in the stands, that won’t make it any less special. This world championship means something to me, and really that’s all I care about.

Interestingly enough, Saturday’s title game is 52 weeks to the day of that awful Game 5 vs Ottawa that ended our Cup dreams last year. Hopefully we’ll all have a better feeling exiting the arena this time around.

Go Bandits!

HT: MPR529 for the pic

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