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Lanthier: Give some love to the little guys

Listen: big sports are great, but Arizona State fans have GOT to start paying attention to these “smaller” sports. Just because they’re not a nationally-recognized member of the ridiculously closed-minded “Big Three” (football, basketball, baseball) does not at all mean that they’re not worth your time.

What’s ASU football done recently? Oh, they went to a bowl game you say? Wow. That’s… not really that impressive at all. Anybody who finishes above .500 is going to a bowl game, and ASU football was gifted a few games by playing in the horrendous Pac-12 South, which the Devils shockingly almost won if not for a narrow loss against UCLA.

What’s ASU basketball done recently? They made it to the NIT! And we’re excited about that? This team lost six of its final eight games. The Colorado game, Evan Gordon’s buzzer-beating lay-up, was probably the high point in the season. Or maybe the domination of UCLA in Tempe. But these are briefly enjoyable moments, and in the end, it was a forgettable season.

But hey, I’m a big fan of both ASU football and basketball (and baseball, while we’re at it). I like watching these teams, rooting for these teams. I’m just asking what they’ve done to deserve your respect, to earn your constant attention.

I’m just curious why Arizona State hockey is still something only a quarter of the student body would even realize exists. This is a team that’s better than it has ever been before, a team that was nationally recognized week in and week out last year as one of the top three teams at the club level in the country.

I’m just wondering why ASU lacrosse, a team that has made three consecutive Final Fours in the largest lacrosse association in the world (over 120 teams), with two of those runs ending in the championship game, can’t muster up more than 300 to 500 fans at a game.

Maybe it’s something wrong with me. Maybe I’m an abnormal sports fan, who goes beyond the norm with things that spark my curiosity and interest me. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s you, casual sports fan, that needs to give these teams a look.

You say you know nothing about these sports, right? Not familiar with them? Well you weren’t born being familiar with football and basketball and baseball. You had to learn these things, acquire a taste for them. It was just introduced to you at a younger age.

Believe me, once you’ve been introduced to these niche sports, you can’t let go of them. Think about a lacrosse fan base, or a hockey fan base, or a soccer fan base. So commonly are “small” and “thin” used to describe the size of these pools of people. How about “dedicated,” or “passionate”? There’s a reason these sports draw out the most cult followings:

They’re actually interesting.

Did you know that hockey is the most fast-paced sport in the world? You may have assumed that, but until you’ve watched sheets of ice get carved up from players making line changes in the midst of game action, hopping on and off the bench, trying to obliterate an opponent against the boards to the sound of a gladiator-style roar from the crowd…until you’ve seen that, you really don’t understand.

Until you’ve watched an overtime thriller in the NCAA Lacrosse Championship Game between Syracuse and Duke end on a face-off that’s taken all the way through a defense and into the net for a goal…you haven’t experienced the thrill of lacrosse.

I’m only mentioning two sports here, but that’s just because these are the ones I have extensive experience with. Stop making excuses, casual sports fan, and make a habit of dedicating some attention to these so-called “lesser” sports. You will not regret it.

You can reach Trey Lanthier on Twitter @TreyLanthier or by email

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