By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Lincoln Financial Field was the place to be Monday afternoon for Lacrosse fans from all over. The NCAA Men’s championship was a hard-fought battle between Duke and Syracuse, with Duke coming back from an early deficit to win 16 to 10.
It was also a rare chance for fans to immerse themselves in their sport.
Throngs began descending on the stadium area hours before the game started, most carrying sticks with them.
“I think they just want to hold it in their hand. My kids all play and we hold the stick. It’s like an addiction, they want to twirl it, they want to cradle it, they want to shoot it. It’s the new thing,” said one spectator.
Bill Morrow of Downingtown stood at the Fan Fest, holding his son’s lacrosse sticks while he got an autograph. Bringing the stick, he says, is part of what he likes about the sport.
“Lacrosse has that feel like you’re part of the game and you’re always part of the game,” said Morrow.
Morrow’s still fairly new to the game, but Leslie Fried, a veteran lacrosse mom, has the same feeling.
“You look around the stadium – it’s not just the teams who are playing, but people who just love lacrosse. They wear their team shirt, whether it’s little league or high school or middle school, so it’s really terrific,” said Fried.
Fried, from suburban Washington, has been attending the Final Four for nine years and says Philadelphia is one of her favorite venues.
Lacrosse actually may be the country’s oldest team sport having originated with Native American tribes. But its popularity is new and Art Clark, a coach from New York in town for the final, thinks that one reason it’s growing.
“Younger kids are coming in and they’re seeing lacrosse as a new and different sport, different than their parents’ baseball and football and things like that,” said Clark.
Whatever the reason, it’s a good bet, the Final Four is likely to draw ever larger crowds.