MLL's Alexander 'Sandy' Brown Talks Social Justice, COVID Protocols, More

PHOTO BY RON CHENOY / PRETTY INSTANT


One week after the Boston Cannons were crowned champions of the 20th season of Major League Lacrosse, MLL commissioner Alexander “Sandy” Brown spoke with Matt Hamilton of US Lacrosse Magazine about the challenges faced during the season, the successes of the 2020 campaign and the rumors swirling about players breaking bubble protocols.

Reflecting on the season, how do you think it went overall?

“It was one of the most demanding seasons we’ve ever had, under the circumstances. It was probably one of the most rewarding seasons we’ve ever had. We had to endure many of the same things that all of the other professional leagues have had to endure in terms of navigating the COVID response and ensuring we could have a season to begin with. The execution was as good as we could have anticipated. The level of play was over the top and got better and better over the week. We addressed some social justice issues and we just had a very rewarding week for this league.”

How nice was it to see the entire league in one place?

“It was huge. The players enjoyed it. One of the challenges that we had to figure out from the get-go was creating an environment within the bubble that allowed the players to have some level of normalcy, and at the same time allow them to have some freedom and flexibility. We were able to do that. From the perspective of our content, having all these guys in one place, the content we were able to develop for social media — our guys did an unbelievable job in that process. It provided an opportunity to really lean in on that.

“Traditionally, we’ve had two tent pole events, which is our All-Star Weekend and our Championship Weekend, where you get a lot of guys together at the same time. This was really an opportunity to have guys together for 10 straight days, and it was good for them because they got to spend time with guys they don’t normally spend time with. The Naval Academy did a great job in every possible respect. The Westin was tremendous. All of the partners chipped in. All the stars line up. Candidly, it was a lot of preparation that went into this and that just underscores that if you’re prepared, you can get stuff done like this.”

Have you learned anything more from the investigation into the positive tests during the playoff weekend?

“We have some theories, but it was not a function of someone leaving the bubble. There may have been a false positive test that was given to one of the players. That may have been the cause of this. We went to the State of Maryland Health Department, and we dialed them in on everything. They are the ones that are doing the contact tracing. They are in a much better position to do the detail on this kind of thing than we are. It’s not a function of anybody leaving the bubble. That I do know. The State will do their work and will provide us with their findings. I feel confident that the protocol that we put in place worked. For us to be in a situation that we could get the turnaround on the testing that we had — we did a total of 340 tests before and during the event and we ended up with four positive tests. That was a pretty good track record, and for us to turn around 150 tests within a matter of three or four hours Saturday, I can’t even tell you how important that was. That’s a function of us doing our homework and lining up the right provider and working with the Naval Academy.”

Just to confirm, you aren’t aware of anyone leaving the bubble?

“I have no knowledge of that.”







Can you walk me through your perspective on meeting with the MLL Four about racial issues in the sport?

“I think there was great leadership demonstrated by our players through this whole week. This league supports its players, whether they are African American players or Native players, we support our players. We provide a platform both on social media as well as through the national anthem on national television — those are small but important steps for us to be able to support our players. These are an exceptional group of young men, and we had a very good dialogue and we are working with our players to support them in every way that we can. That’s the goal of our league, as it is in any league.”

What did you learn from these meetings about what the league can do moving forward?

“You saw it during the week. The players took it upon themselves to put these individuals in front of them. We were able to ensure that all of this got coverage on national television. That’s an important call to action for anybody. It’s an ongoing dialogue. We encountered a lot of things that we had to address across multiple fronts over the 10 days that we were in Annapolis. I look forward to our continued dialogue with our African American players, as well as our Native players, because the World Games issue is an important issue for them. We have some solid steps, but it’s ongoing. I am committed to supporting our players, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The MLL Four voiced their concerns about the lack of awareness from the league prior to the tournament. What is your perspective on their concerns?

“What I’m going to say is that we support our players. That’s the most important thing. We have a path forward. We were able to provide that platform during the 10 days we were in Annapolis, and we are going to continue and build that platform.”

Do you have anything that you’re working on to address these issues in the offseason?

“This is and always has been a cooperative dialogue. I am in dialogue with these players to work out a plan that is going to make sense for everybody. No one does things in a vacuum. We need to do them together, and we do have the wherewithal to support them and you saw that last week. It needs to be cooperative, and we’re certainly on that path. I look forward to that. This is what we do. This is part of our role as a league and my job as commissioner. I just could not be more impressed with these four individuals for everything they stand for and what they bring to the equation and this league and the sport of lacrosse. It’s only going to make us stronger.”

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