Lacrosse Plays On in the Pandemic, Creating Tough Calls for Families

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Alyssa Murray, a former all-American at Syracuse who is a director of the Iron Horse club in Austin, Texas, recently wrote an anguished essay on Inside Lacrosse in which she said that “so many youth tournaments are pressing forward holding their events of several hundred people without much thought of the potential risks and pressure that it will put on players to attend.”

Twenty of the 100 summer events for girls and boys sanctioned by U.S. Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body, were canceled. U.S. Lacrosse also withdrew its endorsement of tournaments in Florida, Texas, California and other states where coronavirus cases were increasing, and issued recommendations about return-to-play protocols. In them, officials called for masks, social distancing and adherence to local rules, even as they acknowledged those rules — and public support for them — varied widely.

“It’s all over the place because the return guidance and what you are allowed to do in each state is so different,” said Ann Kitt Carpenetti, vice president for lacrosse operations at U.S. Lacrosse. “We’re trying to balance the desires of families to go back to play with what’s safe for the kids and the community alike.”

In April, the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association, known as the I.W.L.C.A., canceled its six recruiting tournaments for 2020, including the New England Cup. The association said it did not feel it could hold events and sufficiently protect the health of 3,000 to 14,000 players, parents and coaches who were expected to attend each showcase.

After a coronavirus outbreak in Louisiana had been linked to Mardi Gras celebrations, Liz Robertshaw, the executive director of the coaches association, said the organization felt “we can’t be the next New Orleans.”

The association directed Corrigan Sports Enterprises, the company that organized its showcases, to refund $1,700 of the $1,800 entry fee that each team had paid to participate. Instead, Corrigan decided to proceed with the showcases on its own. The I.W.L.C.A. sued, but even as the case is being contested in federal court in North Carolina, some games, including the ones in Connecticut, have gone ahead.

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