Saturday, October 15, 2011


In the ten years I wrote my Sports Complex column, I never once covered lacrosse. It's funny, I've written about probably 60 different sports, from gay teams to gay players in mainstream sports, but never lacrosse.

Perhaps that's why it interested me to include it, albeit briefly, in Every Time I Think of You. Of course, it fits the kind of sport Everett would play at a private school. From my research, it was mostly limited to smaller schools in the late '70s, when the book is set. One of the "dude"-like aspects of lacrosse is how athletes call it "laX." Do they say it that way? I'm not sure, so I skipped any mention of it, unsure of the timeline of this nickname.

What I didn't know was how hot the guys are! Check out these few vintage photos from college lacrosse teams. Unable to actually attend a lacrosse match nearby, I had to resort to online data, videos and other fun stuff. I became interested in the specifics of uniforms then and now, rules and leagues, and the general history of the sport.

Similar to the more broad coverage of wrestling in PINS, I tried to present a balanced view of Everett's teammates, although they're all much more sketches than the more complete team dramatizations in PINS. Similarly, with Reid's cross country teammates, they don't serve as important plot devices as in PINS. But I hope the two characters' differing sports serve to reflect the nature of these two different kinds of teenagers.

And even though this is the second time I've used a serious sports injury in a story (the bike messenger accidents in Cyclizen sort of count, I guess), I'm certainly not trying to vilify athletics.

But a recent increase in head injuries in high school football have caused a lot of concern. Even professional football athletes have been seriously injured, and raised concerns about safety for athletes of all levels.

Being a former athlete and dancer, I remain fascinated by the wonders, limits and frailty of the human body. I'll be exploring this in other ways in future books and stories.

(The photos are random online finds, and not meant to imply anything about the subjects.)

UPDATE: A day after I posted this, the news of a high school football player dying during a game made headlines. Really tragic.

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