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Lacrosse a victim of stereotyping

Susan Reimer's recent column ("For lacrosse parents, a tragedy too familiar," Feb. 23) points, once again, to the unfounded argument that somehow the sport of lacrosse is to blame for the senseless tragedy of Yeardley Love and George Huguely.

Ms. Reimer goes as far as to say, "How could those players have possibly thought that was an OK thing to do? Privilege and the pack mentality of an elite sport might explain it." The common reaction by many outsiders to a tragedy such as this is to call out the sport using generalized themes regarding money, privilege, race and alcohol to rationalize such an extreme situation.

While this argument can be made, albeit with different, baseless stereotypes, to describe unfortunate events that often occur in sports other than lacrosse, I will stick to the sport in question because, as Ms. Reimer points out, "this is Maryland, and lacrosse is our sport."

Lacrosse is undoubtedly a competitive, even ruthless sport here in Maryland. Children are often given their first lacrosse stick soon after they can walk, and from there, it's a year-round obsession through high school. But at the heart of it all is an undying passion for a sport that many in the world couldn't care less about.

Children don't fall in love with the sport because there is "lots of money in the lacrosse world" or because it is a "beauty contest out there" as Ms. Reimer points out, they fall in love with the sport because it's fun and competitive. Parents start their children's involvement in the sport early, not to foster inter-school rivalries or some sense of personal ambition but because lacrosse, and sports in general, provide a unique opportunity to teach our children lessons that go well beyond the classroom or dinner table. It teaches them respect, sportsmanship and humility.

The most disappointing statement Ms. Reimer makes in her article is, "I believe that the families of George Huguely and Yeardley Love would trade all of those lacrosse dreams if they would simply wake up from the nightmares they are living now." In implying resentment toward the sport, Ms. Reimer is ignoring the tremendous values of the sport that will live on for generations. She fails to understand the remarkable benefits such as the One Love Foundation, designed to promote good sportsmanship and community service in the sport of lacrosse, in addition to donating the Yeardley Reynolds Love Turf Field at Notre Dame Preparatory School, as well as the Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award given to two ACC lacrosse players each year.

These stereotypes also ignore the positives within the sport that occur outside of our state boundaries such as the fact that both men's and women's lacrosse report the highest graduation rates out of all Division I sports. Couple that with the countless community service and non-profit initiatives that take place in programs across the country, and it's safe to say that lacrosse provides benefits that all too often go unnoticed.

Instead of attacking a sport that has and will continue to have a positive influence on our youth, we should focus on the values that sports can build. By teaching these values, our sport can serve its intended purpose.

Kyle Lagratta, Baltimore

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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