The Unanswered Questions of the PLL

The PLL has been a huge success that has helped professional lacrosse reach new heights in
their four years of existence. The league has given its fans more access than the sport has had in
the past. It has a strong social media presence, great behind the scenes content, and obviously
a great on-field product with more TV access than ever before. But even with all that access, the
league still struggles with transparency with certain information.

Player Salaries

When the PLL came into existence, one of the first things the league talked about was creating
a league that would compensate players with higher salaries than what they had been paid in previous leagues. Allowing the athletes to use lacrosse as a full-time career and not having to view their lacrosse
careers as a supplement to their full-time jobs. Even with the higher salaries, we don’t necessarily know how much players make. There is some vague information about player salaries, but it’s just a rough idea of how much players make.

During the 2021/2022 offseason, the PLL announced that coaches (also working as the teams general managers) will have a say over how their players are compensated. According to the article, coaches in the PLL also serve as general managers, and will have a pool of $735,000 annually that they must allocate 98% of those funds each year. No player may make less than the $25,000 annual minimum. The article also goes on to discuss rookie salaries as well. Beginning with the 2022 College Draft, there will be a scale on draft picks based on draft position. All but the top four picks will receive a three-year, $25,000 contract. The top four players will receive $30,000, $28,500, $27,000 and $26,000 in that order.”

Knowing the basic salary cap and rookie contracts is nice, and sure you can do the math and figure out basically the average salary per rostered player, which is just over $28,000 per year, but it would be nice to have this information feel more transparent like other professional leagues. Now some of this might be due to the fact that the players have ownership in the league, and the league wants to make compensation fair for everyone. But it would be nice to know how much Lyle Thompson, Trevor Baptiste or a Blaze Riorden make, considering their are some of the brightest stars in the league.

Player Injuries

The PLL seems to have adopted the NHL style when it comes to player injuries, using more broad terms when discussing players injuries. The three types of injuries that you will see on the PLL injury report are upper body, lower body, and medical. Fans may be able to figure some of these distinctions out like when Michael Sowers was dealing with his “medical” injury last season. Anyone who had watched that first game that saw the hit on Sowers could have easily guessed he suffered a concussion, but the league didn’t really comment on the injury other than its listing on the weekly injury report.

The biggest issue for me when it comes to the injury report is the transparency of a player’s game status. We were surprised by Lyle Thompsons Week 2 absence, which was announced moments before the game started along with Trevor Baptiste’s current injury. Lyle has seemingly dealt with injuries since he joined the PLL, but he has rarely missed time, so it was surprising for everyone when he sat out in Week 2. Baptiste was hurt during the All-Star game and continued to be held out in the first game after the All Star break.

In a league where fans can bet on game outcomes and player props, the league should be more up front when discussing player injuries because it can have a huge effect on fans who want to bet on the PLL. One way the league could help improve communication is by having weekly coach press conferences so coaches can discuss roster moves and injuries, which is something Dan Arestia of Lacrosse Flash has been clamoring for for some time now. All the other major sports leagues do it, why doesn’t the PLL?

Player Trades

The last thing the PLL could do a better job of is creating buzz with trade rumors. When trades happen, they tend to come out of nowhere. The three biggest trades in league history (Rob Pannell, Paul Rabil,and Myles Jones) shocked the lacrosse world. While that might help the league create more excitement, wouldn’t it be more exciting to hear rumors of these trades beforehand?

The Rob Pannell trade is a great example of this, when Pannell was traded, the first person to break the news was Nick Osello (who was a member of the Redwoods at the time). When that tweet came out, lacrosse twitter was frantically searching the internet for confirmation and had to wait three hours before it was announced by the league. Imagine if the league had this kind of buzz leading up to the trade deadline, with rumors swirling, or insider accounts tweeting out trades before the league has announced
them, it would mimic the excitement that fans have for the other trade deadlines in sports. Creating this type of buzz and excitement would be good for the league because it could potentially lead to new fans finding out about the PLL. Imagine if #PLLTradeDeadline was trending on twitter? Just having the PLL trending could help fans discover a league that they didn’t know existed.

The PLL has been great for the sport and there is no denying that, I also want to be very clear that I thoroughly enjoy the PLL and it has exceeded my expectations since day one. The league has taken giant steps forward with expansion and the media deal with ESPN. Even with the introduction of free agency next season, the league should still be trying to push forward and create even more buzz. One of the easiest ways to do that is for them to become more transparent and even let more info be leaked to the media to help generate more interest for its fans and hopefully attract the attention of non-lacrosse fans.