EDITOR’S NOTE: Senior coordinating producer John Vassallo oversees ESPN’s production of all of the NCAA Championships – lacrosse, ice hockey, and wrestling – as well as The Home Depot College Football Awards and the Under Armour All-America High School Football Game. As ESPN airs the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse championships for the 25th consecutive year, he reflects on the growth of the sport’s popularity and the technology used to capture it.
PHILADELPHIA – Twenty-five years ago, only the NCAA men’s championship title game was televised.
Today, we are proud to say that ESPN’s regular season coverage is more robust, and the entire tournament is covered across ESPN2 and ESPNU. We have been a leader in reflecting the growth of the sport, and we are excited to be airing our 25th consecutive men’s lacrosse championship this weekend.
If you look at the face of the game now, there are more than 70 NCAA Division I men’s programs.
Years ago, that number wasn’t remotely close to that. Recently added programs like Michigan, Utah, High Point, Marquette, Jacksonville, Denver to D1, St Bonaventure, Mercer, UMass Lowell, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, Wagner, Monmouth, Detroit Mercy, Bellarmine, Furman, BU, NJIT.
High school growth has more than doubled from about 1500 to 3900 teams, and the sport has expanded regionally to the south, Midwest, California and Pacific northwest. Over the last decade, we’ve seen the creation of more than 15 Division I programs, and new champions like Denver, Denver, Loyola and Yale – providing new players and teams among the traditional programs.
Championship weekend is really about the moments and how we capture them – the momentum swings, the runs, the crowd . . . The game is never predictable. Technological advances have changed the way the sport is covered.
Some people tell me that for them HD did for lacrosse what it did for hockey and made it easier and more digestible to follow. The advent of the Sky Cam, super slo motion cameras, more robust audio, studio support, and a team of production and technical personnel with familiarity of the nuances of the sport allow us to translate the game more effectively for our fans.
The entire sport is watching – we respect that, understand the responsibility and are humbled by the opportunity.
For more information on ESPN’s Men’s and Women’s NCAA Championship Lacrosse coverage, visit ESPN Press Room.