Penn Lacrosse Team Suspended for Inventing Fake Sport To Get Into Penn
Photo by Nicole Fridling / The Daily Pennsylvanian
April 1, 2021 at 6:01 pm
In the latest scandal to hit Penn Athletics the “lacrosse” team has been suspended indefinitely for creating a fake sport.
The suspension follows a detailed investigation by senior administrators within Penn Athletics, which concluded that lacrosse does not actually exist. Members of the Penn team are accused of inventing the entire sport as a way to grab coveted spots for recruited athletes in each class of admitted students. “I can’t believe we were fooled for this long, but these students did an incredible job of pulling the wool over our eyes,” former Penn lacrosse coach Jed Stevens said.
The fate of the suspended students is unclear, as no Penn sports team has ever been indefinitely suspended. Since lacrosse is not a real sport, the students cannot go elsewhere to play it if Penn refuses to take the players back. “We are treading in unknown water,” said one administrator involved in suspending the students. All members of the former Penn lacrosse team declined to comment for this article.
The scheme, dubbed “The Lacrosse Stick” by participants, was tremendously successful in its aim of snagging spots at Penn. Over the years, Penn has taken in dozens — if not hundreds — of students claiming to be top-shelf lacrosse players with no suspicions raised. Lacrosse players have thrived at Penn with the social capital of being considered athletes. “I was always envious of how those lacrosse players seemed to have so much free time,” Penn rowing senior Brad Stone said. To perpetuate this success, current lacrosse players at Penn were found to be preparing the next generation of purported lacrosse players.
The investigation revealed the extreme lengths the students on the lacrosse team went to in this mass deception. A 100-page rulebook was created and published nationwide, online forums were filled with Estonian bots discussing imaginary lacrosse tournaments, and hours of footage were recorded of potential recruits playing this imaginary sport. What tipped the investigators off was one key flaw in this ingenious plan: No one had been seen playing this sport in real life outside of a fictional state called Connecticut.
Questions are already being raised about how much Penn knew about the imaginary nature of lacrosse. “Did people really believe that this sport, where people ran around with jellyfish-catching sticks, existed?” College sophomore Beth Evans said. Evans pointed to the swift disbandment of Penn Quidditch as a reason Penn should have known better. “It’s not even in the Olympics!” College senior Andrew Wang said while rolling his eyes.
Other students noted that Penn has a history of producing scammers and con artists of various kinds, and so the lacrosse fabrication was not out of the ordinary. “Real estate moguls, quack doctors, insider traders — these kids just started a bit too early,” Wharton junior Ronit Singh said.
The suspension of Penn lacrosse overshadows Penn Athletics' last scandal surrounding former Penn basketball coach Jerome Allen. Allen, who currently serves as an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics, admitted to taking bribes in return for guaranteeing a prospective student a spot on the team. This time around, no money was involved: Penn was just honest-to-God fooled into believing such a silly sport was worthy of spots for recruited athlete.
Worsening matters, Penn is not alone in being duped into recruiting lacrosse teams. It’s possible this scheme stretches far wider than Penn’s investigation revealed and that students at dozens of colleges colluded to invent lacrosse. The students involved in this scheme were so daring that they claimed lacrosse was not only real, but also “the oldest organized sport in North America,” according to the flimsy Wikipedia page on the fake sport.
“This is going to shake up Penn Athletics in a big way. Who knows what other sports are real? Synchronized swimming sounds dubious at best. And don’t even get me started on cricket — no way a billion people watch that,” Stevens said.