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2021 SHORTLIST

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ROOTS: EXPLORING THE HISTORY OF LACROSSE

Entrant Company: Premier Lacrosse League

FINALIST

Best Original Content or Series (Under 10 min)

Roots: Exploring the History of Lacrosse

ABOUT THIS ENTRY

The goal of this content series was to reach and educate a new audience on the origins of the sport of lacrosse.

How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

This short-form work’s engagement has the potential to transcend social media. It calls the lacrosse community to action. Compared to other short-form storytelling content the PLL has made, “Roots” brought in double the viewership. On Twitter alone, the piece brought in over 97,000 viewers, surpassing anything the PLL has ever posted. The lacrosse community has never experienced that type of engagement prior.

As lacrosse pushes for inclusion in the 2028 Olympics, it is necessary that the IOC acknowledges the sovereignty of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. After The World Games 2022 originally excluded the Iroquois from the event, the lacrosse community quickly rallied. The decision was reversed in September, allowing the Iroquois to compete under their flag in 2022.

Since the project debuted, the Premier Lacrosse League and Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse have announced a multi-faceted partnership encompassing four pillars: mentorship, cultural awareness training, events, and brand. We hope by further educating the lacrosse community on the origins of the sport its players love, they will feel a necessary desire to honor those that have paved the way before them.

 

Objective: Lacrosse is the oldest team sport on the North American continent, given to the Haudenosaunee people over one thousand years ago by the Creator. Called the Medicine Game, it is a ceremonial game played to heal the sick, make peace among the nations, and for recreation.

In common popular culture, lacrosse is typified through a lens of white privilege, reserved for top universities and prep schools. Our goal with “Roots: Exploring the History of Lacrosse” was and is to drive education around the true origins of the sport, honoring the Haudenasaunee people - including their past and present contributions to the sport.

In Part I of this series, we also tell the stories of pioneering Black athletes in lacrosse, including Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown and the Morgan State Bears, the first HBCU to field an NCAA lacrosse team.

 

Strategy & Execution: Modern audiences have rightfully come to expect representation in the delivery of narratives - especially when tied to historically marginalized communities.

“Roots: Exploring the History of Lacrosse” was narrated by two uniquely-qualified Premier Lacrosse League athletes: Jeremy Thompson and Kyle Harrison. The authentic POV from pro athletes provides gravity to the piece while providing direct access that modern fans have come to value.

Thompson is an Onondaga Native, with a deep spiritual connection to the sport. In Onondaga, where Thompson grew up, they call it Dehontsigwaehs, which means “they bump hips.” The name “lacrosse” came from French missionaries, centuries after the sport began.

Harrison – the first-ever Black player to win the Tewaaraton Award (lacrosse’s Heisman) in 2005 – told the story of the 1970s Morgan State Bears teams, which his father, Dr. Miles Harrison, was a member of.

 

Results:

Across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, “Roots: Exploring the History of Lacrosse” saw: 1.6 million impressions, was engaged with 37,000 times, and was viewed over 182,000 times. On YouTube, the video accrued over 137,000 impressions and 13,100 unique viewers.

As we expand this series to highlight the growth and development of women's lacrosse, we expect to further expand this reach.

PRODUCTION

Premiere Lacrosse League

Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse

 

CREDITS

Senior Producer
PLL
 
Writer
ESPN
 
Design Manager
PLL
 
Graphic Designer
PLL
 
Co-Founder & CMO
PLL

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