AN EYE-POPPING tidbit from the World Cup soccer tournament: A survey found soccer star Alexi Lalas was the second-most recognizable U.S. athlete abroad, after Michael Jordan. That a player could be renowned overseas while unheard of at home was a vivid reminder that many gifted athletes perform in obscurity.
With that in mind, supporters of lacrosse hope the 1998 International Lacrosse Federation World Championships in Baltimore this month will generate greater appreciation for their sport.
Make no mistake, Maryland is a lacrosse hotbed. Its universities compete each year for national titles; the first women's team began at Bryn Mawr School in 1926; the indoor version of the game is popular professionally here; and the sport's new National Hall of Fame opened on the Johns Hopkins campus this spring. But without the television coverage and marketing that baseball, basketball and football enjoy, lacrosse remains a mystery to many.
For a rapid initiation -- or if you're already a big fan or player -- visit Hopkins' Homewood Field July 16-24. Tickets are still on sale for this true "world series" involving 10 nations.
Homewood will also host a "FanFest" tent city with clinics and vendors. Meanwhile, a youth competition will be held July 18-20 at Towson University.
The quadrennial championship last visited the United States -- and Baltimore -- in 1982. It won't return for more than a decade. The games should prove an economic boost for the city, with 50,000 spectators expected.
Just as the Whitbread Round the World race spawned interest in sailing, this international event may recruit legions for lacrosse.
Pub Date: 7/03/98