Let the music play

When you watch an NHL game, there’s frequently music playing between plays. But the second the puck is dropped, the music stops. One of the things about the NLL that’s unique in the world of professional sports is that the music doesn’t stop. (“Can’t stop the Rock” one might say.) It surprised me the first time I went to a game. It surprises people I bring to games. My wife comes to one or two games a year and she says it still surprises her sometimes. You hear “They don’t stop the music while the game is on? Wow!”, frequently followed by either “that’s cool” or “that’s weird”.

So this is unique to the NLL – almost. CLax plays music but MSL and WLA do not. But is it a good thing? Let’s look over the pros and cons. I asked what peple on Facebook and Twitter thought, and I’ll include some of their comments below.

A few people (including Stealth player Jarrett Toll) simply liked my tweet but didn’t respond. I don’t know if that means they are for or against.

Pros

It’s unique and memorable. It’s something interesting about the whole experience that might catch first-timers’ memory and give them something to talk about at the water-cooler the next day.

It can get people pumped up and excited. This is useful if, for whatever reason, the lacrosse game isn’t exciting enough already.

It makes sure the place isn’t silent if the crowd isn’t in it.

Pro comments:

  • Darci Becker: “Vancouver would be a library without it!”
  • Ron Flesher: “I have no issue with music being  played during game play.”
  • Travis Holland: “Rock on”
  • Grant Miller: “Feels like it’d be quiet without. Maybe do NBA style with nothing heavy but still something”
  • Craig: “Don’t mind music, but for whatever reason it sometimes gets turned up to 11 at Pepsi Center”
  • Luscious Dick Tacoma: “conundrum. I like it live. Don’t like it watching outside the arena.”
  • J Bro: “the kids LOVE the music aren’t on Twitter and won’t vote. They are the future players that will grow the sport”
  • Bob Cox: “Music is one of the great things that makes NLL games more fun than other sports”
  • Carmen Widdess: “It makes for a great atmosphere with the music cranked.”
  • Chuck Hill: “I sometimes don’t even notice the music anymore (if it’s a good game and I’m into it) but I enjoy the music”

Big crowd in Buffalo

Cons

The fact that the other major sports (NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL, even MLS if you want to count them) don’t play music during the game may make the NLL seem a little more bush-league.

The actual sounds of the game – the grunts, the hits (ball hitting goalie, sticks hitting each other, sticks hitting players, players hitting boards, etc.), the yelling of coaches and players – get drowned out. I went to a pre-season game at the TRAC back in December and there was no music playing. Hearing what a lacrosse game really sounds like was fantastic.

When watching on TV, music playing is terrible. It seems much more distracting on TV, especially when the commentators have to talk over it.

Con comments:

  • Marisa Ingemi: “YES YES YES YES” (to the question “Should the NLL stop playing music during play?”)
  • Stephen Stamp: “I personally dislike it but have gotten used to it so doesn’t bother me too much”
  • Richard Bell: “May be up to the team”
  • Marcel Paillard: “Only if it flows with the game! Play whole song”
  • Marko Ćelić: “Only when the play is going on is it annoying….but I’m assuming it would be relatively quiet for the non uber lacrosse fans at the game.”
  • Brad Challoner: “No music is great if concrete or wood floors, you hear game sounds but turf is very quiet. I vote no.”

Interesting: other than Marisa’s rather unequivocal comment, even the “con” comments aren’t entirely “con”.

The Science

OK, that title is a joke. There’s no science here, it’s entirely opinion.

In a Twitter poll, 57% of votes chose “Love the music” over “No music please”. There probably should have been a “don’t care” option, and there were only 28 votes in the first place so it doesn’t tell you much.

I had a good chat over twitter with a fan named Nick who said that “it’s one of the reasons the casual fan enjoys the game” and that the lack of music would drive away fans. He said that he’s talked to many fans at many NLL games and they say they like the atmosphere better than at NHL games.

However talking to fans at NLL games doesn’t give you all the information, nor do polls on Twitter. It could be that many people came to NLL games, were turned off by the music, and never came back. And if they were turned off, they’re not there to talk to you about it the next time, and they’re very likely not answering lacrosse polls on Twitter. What if there are twice as many of those people as the ones who like the music and still go to games? Until we can find the people who left because of the music and include them in the numbers, we don’t know the whole story. Of course, finding those people is the challenge.

Other than Toll’s non-response, I didn’t hear from any players (though they might have voted in the poll) so I don’t know how they feel about it. I imagine they’re so dialed into the game itself that they don’t really notice the music.

Personally, I lean towards the “no music” side of things, though I’m not cancelling my season tickets over it. A lot of the music they play at the ACC is classic rock, which is my jam, so I tend to get into the music and the game (and the music selection is even better at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo – Dream Theater and Metallica!), so I’m kind of good either way. But like I mentioned earlier, the music-free game I saw at the TRAC was amazing, with nothing to distract you from the sounds of the action, and I enjoyed hearing the players calling to each other or yelling from the bench. But judging by the poll and the comments I got on social media, it seems that I’m in the minority.

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