The Rapid Rise of Lacrosse in The United States
Rise in Lacrosse Participation:
According to the Wall Street Journal, the rate of participation in traditional team sports has fallen in the early elementary demographic. The number of children opting to play lacrosse has grown exponentially in the last decade. The sport of lacrosse has seen an increase in popularity across categories. Lacrosse is a sport that is played by men, women, and children, which adds to the popularity of the game. Lacrosse has various types of play According to the NCAA; lacrosse is the fastest growing sport, with more than 36,000 athletes playing at the college level. Spring and summer are the seasons of lacrosse. There are lacrosse championships during the summer, and media outlets like ESPN increasingly pick these up.
US Lacrosse reports that three-quarters of a million people played lacrosse last year. Kids are opting to try a different sport from what they typically have chosen. In the US Lacrosse survey, boys and girls lacrosse grew by 47.% and 43.1% respectively. Additionally, the NCAA reported a 24% increase in the number of new men’s lacrosse programs created in the last two decades. Women’s athletic department saw a 65% increase in the number of new programs started between 1998-2008. There have been many statistics collected about this phenomenal growth in a sport that was considered an elite prep school activity.
Lacrosse has seen an increase in participation because of its growing popularity in youth sports. The youth segment is possibly the fastest growing area of the sport due to overnight sports summer camps and club leagues. The more children learn to play lacrosse, the more popular the sport will become. It is not surprising that the largest segment of growth in lacrosse is in the youth category. Young players join lacrosse camp and go to school and play on teams and once they have graduated from high school, they seek out other opportunities to play their sport. Those athletes turn into fans, and the cycle is perpetuated with more kids playing lacrosse with the eager support of a parent that played and were a fan of the sport.
Another reason the sport has grown in the past few years is that everyone can play. Women’s Lacrosse has a world following, and the sport continues to garner attention. There’s even a Women’s Lacrosse World Cup. As mentioned earlier, lacrosse is being played all over the world. With over 25 countries embracing the sport, it’s only foreseeable that the sport will continue to grow in the US.
Many other sports have seen the breakaway success that lacrosse has experienced in the past ten years. Soccer has become a very popular sport for men, women, and children as well. Many coaches and athletic directors cite the energetic and fast paced game play for the increase in team numbers. When compared to soccer and baseball, the game play is more interesting for spectators. The game scores are higher and less likely to result in scoreless games. Parents are often pleased because even the most inexperienced player gets a chance to try in lacrosse.
For athletic teens hoping for a shot at a sports scholarship, lacrosse is a great opportunity. From the parent’s perceptive, playing lacrosse and getting a collegiate scholarship is realistic. Lacrosse unlike many of the other collegiate sports doesn’t have the steep competition in basketball or football. Also, graduation rates for lacrosse players are among the highest in college sports. Male lacrosse players graduated at a rate of 88% and women at a rate of 94%.
All these statistics show that lacrosse is on a rapid incline toward mainstream popularity. Who knows if it will become an American pastime is yet to be seen. In 2010, The Atlantic magazine asked this same question. Their research also confirmed that one million kids play team basketball each year, making it the most popular kids sport in the country. Lacrosse hasn’t reached that level, but with over 400,000 youth players, it’s gaining traction around the country. Lacrosse is being played in more than east coast private schools; it’s expanding into public schools and Middle America. The NCAA Lacrosse Championship is gaining a loyal following of fans, and there are professional leagues being created in quantity.