The Boston Globe wrote an article about Lax Bros which is in many ways, beyond comprehension. Before we get into some of the nitty gritty, here’s a few quick highlights.
Lax bros display a certain understated confidence that critics call arrogance. They wear their hair long, a look known as “lettuce.” They dress in colorful board shorts, flat-brim hats, and bright half-calf socks.
But others worry the identity exudes a preppie/frat-boy image that glorifies elitism and wealth, and values flash over hard work. Some youth lacrosse leagues discourage any association between players and the lax bro lifestyle.
Everything good is “chill,” especially chillin’, a favored activity that often includes listening to the music of O.A.R., Dispatch, and Dave Mathews.
“We are anti-lax bro,’’ said Dan Chouinard, program director for the Boston club team Laxachusetts. “We push character and academics.”
Let’s all take a moment and think about the word “Laxachusetts”, and the fact that it’s an actual thing that exists.
But in all seriousness, I get what they’re trying to do here. The disconnect between the sport’s growing popularity and the narratives often associated with Lax Bro culture--mainly notions of entitlement, elitism, and prep school type wealth--does exist to a certain extent. Yet, like everything else, it’s mostly a result of stereotyping. It’s a result of people like George Huguely, someone who clearly did embody these qualities, serving as the face of an entire culture.
This article is wrong and misguided in so many ways, but it’s also sadly understandable. It’s no secret that a tremendous amount of college lacrosse players come from super-elite areas where the sport is well-established (Long Island, Maryland DC fringe suburbs, and New England Prep-School environments). It’s also no secret that a lot of these kids are the types who have been winning their entire lives, and have been so ingrained in the bubble of upper-middle class suburbia to the point of blissful ignorance. These realities alone makes the Lax Bro an easy scapegoat, often vilified for cultural practices that are undoubtedly more a result of a specific upbringing than it is a specific sport.
To prove a point, here’s this year’s top 25 in college lacrosse:
With the exception of sports like crew and sailing--sports you need yacht club access just as much as you need skill--I dare you to find another sport where about half of the best teams are also Top 40 Colleges and Universities. Seventeen of these schools are also private.
There will always be people at elite colleges who drop a $500 bar tab on daddy’s credit card. They do it because f*cking YOLO and sh*t, and because of the culture of excess that surrounds college life in general. Lacrosse has very little to do with it, other than the fact that people play lacrosse often come from backgrounds where sh*t like that isn’t unheard of.
Lacrosse is a sport, meaning that it’s intense, meaning that it attracts intense people. Applying the concept to the collegiate social scene just means that Lax Bros are bringing the same intensity to the rager as they are to the field. Personally, I think it's unfortunate that society seems to have a problem with this. There are bad eggs in every group, and lacrosse is no exception to that. But to objectify an entire lifestyle as one that is harmful to society at large--and one that doesn’t necessarily want to see its own sport rise in popularity--is simply ignorant.
Here’s a quick story. I graduated college less than a month ago, meaning that I also recently experienced the sorts of shenanigans that come with graduating college. This mostly involved getting beyond-sh*tfaced every night in the week leading up to graduation, which naturally produced some tales. One night a group of us were pregaming, and a friend walks in who for all intents and purposes, is the biggest Lax Bro of all time. Huge dude who also played football, from exactly the type of background you’d think of when you thought of a Lax Bro. Clothes beyond preppy, booming voice, just ready to go get trashed and have a great time. It’s important to note that although this guy was down to party, he rarely drank during the year because he was a two sport athlete. Unlike the picture that is often painted, this kid took those rules very seriously.
We get to this club where a group of us are doing the usual rage tactics. First group dancing, then dancing with our respective girls, then downing shots, etc. The cycle repeats itself a few times. This particular club is an environment that basically endorses ridiculous behavior, so my Lax Bro friend, obviously drunk, starts unbuttoning everyone’s plaid shirts. At the time, it just seemed like something really funny, and something that would up the rage factor.
He gets to me; out of the five of us there, I’m the only kid not wearing a button down. This does not matter in the slightest, as my Lax Bro friend proceeds to “unbutton” my t-shirt, ripping it down the middle almost completely. Other than the fact that I instantly looked like a douchey European club promoter, it was pretty awesome. Double-fisting with a completely ripped shirt, it was a really easy game of “who could spot the BroBible employee.”
This strange ability to go above and beyond the normal social constructs, often in a way that provides substantial entertainment value, is something that so-called “Lax Bros” are remarkably good at. It’s a lifestyle that often draws tremendous criticism, because above-and-beyond nature could sometimes result in consequences that could potentially to be above-and-beyond normal consequences. I understand what the argument is, but it’s also an argument that says people with long hair that happened to be born into affluence, that like to have fun but are also good at sports, are automatically the worst people in the world. And that's what we call stereotyping.
At the end of the day, I think everyone (including me) just needs to chill. And maybe listen to some Dave.