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OLA updates policy about participating in non-sanctioned leagues

January 4, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

The Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA) has updated its policy regarding players, coaches and official participation in non-sanctioned leagues in the province.

Non-sanctioned organizations are those that operate outside of the established structure of the OLA.

Players who participate in a non-sanctioned event during specified periods in the year may be subject to forfeiting their membership for the remainder of the season and will be deemed not in good standing with the OLA.

The rules also apply to officials, and league officials may not accept assignments from any league, program, or event not sanctioned by Lacrosse Canada and properly affiliated with the OLA.

As some players currently participate in various ways with other associations, they’re not happy with the new rules.

However, OLA officials say the new rules are in place to maintain the integrity of the league and teams that play under the OLA umbrella.

The OLA released a statement on Dec. 29 detailing the updated participation policy.

“These non-sanctioned organizations do not support the development of the OLA or its clubs,” The policy states. “Furthermore, they operate with limited consideration of their impact on our association while attempting to leverage resources developed by the OLA.”

The OLA says it will make every effort to ensure that OLA Member Associations and their representatives do not endorse or support non-sanctioned events in any manner, including direct or indirect assistance through advertisement, promotion, volunteer activities, assignment of officials, securing permits, or sharing resources.

Due to the fact that non-sanctioned organizations operate on their own, the OLA says they cannot claim that the “quality/equality of play in these events matches the level advertised, that officials are appropriately trained, that background screens have been completed, or that participants are of the expected age and skill level.”

The OLA has defined ‘event windows’ where the new policy is in effect.

Non-sanctioned events include any lacrosse teams, leagues, tournaments, or programs that operate in Ontario outside the governance/sanctioning of the OLA. This does not include adult recreational lacrosse, elementary school, middle school, high school teams, college and university lacrosse teams, or recognized professional lacrosse leagues.

As the new policy has been put in place, there has been considerable opposition from some parents who do not like the policy, and they have started a petition to have the policy reversed.

The petition garnered over 5,500 signatures as of press time. It was started on Dec. 25, 2023.

The petition states, “This policy does not promote, develop, and foster the game of lacrosse. Simply put, the inevitable result of this rule is that players will play less lacrosse. For many players, particularly those confined by the residency rules to smaller centers, private club lacrosse provides an opportunity where they can develop their skills and play with other players of their caliber.”

The parent group who started the petition reached out to Lacrosse Canada, the national governing body of the sport in the country, and received a response that said, “Lacrosse Canada was not made aware of the OLA’s non-sanctioned Lacrosse Policy prior to its release and does not feel the policy or its revision is consistent in executing our mission.”

Lacrosse Canada said it is in contact with OLA executives to better align their vision for the sport.

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