Lacrosse: The What? How? and When?

“Lacrosse? Oh that sport with the stick? Yah never seen it”, is a response many people will comeback with after being asked about our great sport. The game of lacrosse is a fast paced, physical sport using a stick, ball and goal. Played by people who are as passionate about it as Willy Wonka is about candy. There are a lot of people in this world who have become hooked on the sport, like myself after first contact with it. Unfortunately, many do not know a lot about the game. Lacrosse is the sport and this is how it can become more popular and recognized throughout our country!

Kids are our Future…

Kids and youth programs are vital for the growth of the game. According to Kelli Washington’s and Richard Miller’s Sports Marketing book, one chapter spotlights lacrosse and it’s up rise throughout the years. The authors pulled statistics from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association participation report, claiming, 1.6 million people in the U.S play lacrosse (each year)”. The SFIA calculated that “participation in lacrosse among children age six and older increased 118% during the past decade, ranking it as the most rapidly growing sport in the U.S. (Miller, Washington). The numbers are astonishing yet I believe that the sport of lacrosse has much room for growth by continuing to reach kids in areas that the sport has not arrived yet. Traditionally lacrosse’s most popular region is in the northeast (New York, Maryland area) and as time has gone on the sport has spread south and across the Midwest just like the “ hipster man bun”. There are many areas left in the country that haven’t got a chance to play or see lacrosse and if the sport can move to their fields, the kids will have a chance to play and instantly increase the sports popularity and recognition.

The Cheaper the Better…

We all know that the economy is not great and with that some kids are not as fortunately as others to partake in extra curricular activities like sports. The price to pay is absurd but will most likely not change. One problem with the sport is that lacrosse is expensive. Sticks, helmets, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves and cleats can add up quickly. Breaking open the piggy bank will not be able to cover the expense to play the game. Lax World, a lacrosse equipment dealership with stores throughout the country, retails sticks priced at $220, helmets for $140 and shoulder pads ranging from $60 to $90 (http://laxworld.com). TALK ABOUT A WHOLE LOT OF CHEDDAR! Kids are playing sports like basketball and soccer because all you need is the ball, both relatively cheap. It needs to be a priority for lacrosse equipment companies to innovate new equipment in order to meet the price range of lower income families. With that, more families will be willing to let their kids play since they can afford it. Adding those families that can now pay for their kids equipment will improve participation which will then increase the popularity and recognition with the sport of lacrosse.

Capture the Attention of Athletes from other Sports…

Lacrosse is a hybrid sport, one that applies skills and attributes of other sports like football, hockey and soccer. Recruiting athletes from other sports can be significant in order to broaden the sport and make it more popular. Patrick Anderson, a writer for the La Crosse Tribune, wrote a piece on the popularity of lacrosse in his town and throughout the country. He was able to get a quote from Keith Weaver, the head coach of the high school team. Weaver said, “Lacrosse combines elements of other sports including hockey, soccer, baseball and football, it offers a physicality lacking in other sports” (Anderson). Weaver made another comment saying “the sport has become so popular because athletes that play hockey and soccer can find something that offers them a similar type of player-to-player contact. Lacrosse is a good way to train in the offseason” (Anderson). So tell your friends, make flyers and get the word out to all the jocks in your town to convince them that it will be beneficial for both parties. Increasing the amount of athletes from other sports will increase the popularity and recognition throughout the country.

Paul Rabil, Major League Lacrosse player (New York Lizards #99)

Take Advantage of Resources…

If someone handed you $100, would you take it? Of course you would, that is exactly what the sport of lacrosse is being given. With the help from ESPN and other networks, the recognition and popularity of lacrosse has improved. The sport can also use star power like Paul Rabil “the best player on the planet” to market and advertise the game. Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg Business wrote and article on the lacrosse viewership and especially Paul Rabil, “ ESPN will air 25 games on its network this season and CBS Sports Network will show 20 Major League Lacrosse games (Soshnick). This article was written a few years ago, but the amount of games shown of TV has increase even more since. Now couch potatoes everywhere can watch lacrosse more often! Dan Norwalk of the New Haven Tribune wrote an article on the growth of lacrosse featuring Frank Barron the assistant lacrosse coach at Bradford High School, also the Connecticut liaison for US lacrosse. “Many commercials feature lacrosse now, the expansion of local cable companies to include college and high school lacrosse has also meant a great exposure for the sport” (Norwalk). Commercials are a great way to market the sport to the millions of people that watch TV everyday, especially those who have never seen the game before. The Bloomberg article wrote on Paul Rabil, being lacrosse’s million-dollar man due to his sponsors and other revenue resources. Paul’s recognition is great for the sport. We need someone to take charge and lead us down paths we have never gone before. Nike had Michael Jordan and the slogan “be like Mike”, creating great revenue and exposure for the shoe brand. Lacrosse can use Paul to advertise the sport that can instantly increase its recognition due to his amazing skills on the field and personality off.

More Teams = More Publicity

One day I can see people becoming fanatics for Major League Lacrosse teams, whether it’s the Boston Cannons, Ohio Machine or an expansion team in the near future. Maybe even their favorite college team. As of right now there are not nearly as many lacrosse teams, pro or college level, as there are for other sports like basketball and football. Increasing the amount of teams throughout the country can also add interest to the fans of the school or people living in the city and surrounding areas. Paul Rabil, as mentioned previously, has his own YouTube channel where he answers a lot of fan questions. One fan asked him, “where do you see the MLL in the 10 years?” Paul basically said that if the sport can take a few points off the market share from other pro sports, it would be very beneficial for the lacrosse. He also said that increasing the amount of college and pro teams would increase opportunity for recognition and growth. He also predicted that the next cities to get a Major League Lacrosse teams would be Atlanta and Houston. If you want to watch the actual video, {click here:……………….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqeyB7-B1hg}. Paul knows the state of lacrosse as well as anyone, if the MLL does not add more teams, then the sport will stay at a stand still and if colleges do not add a lacrosse team to their sports, then the growth of lacrosse will slow down. Fortunately according to US Lacrosse organization, between now and 2018, the amount of men and women’s teams will grow to 80 programs (uslacrosse). That growth is exciting for all lacrosse fans in order to increase the popularity and recognition within the sport.

In Conclusion…

It’s going to take every lacrosse player and fan to get the sport to where we all want to see it. It will take a lot of time, energy and money, but it will happen. So you might be asking, when? The ballpark timeline is 10 years, 2025 people. I know, it seems like forever, but if the sport can continue to expand youth programs throughout the country, make the game cheaper for everyone, get athletes from other sports to play, use all our resources and add more MLL and college teams. Then we will see the popularity and recognition of lacrosse grow tremendously in our country compared to other sports!

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