The game of Lacrosse has silently become one of the fastest growing sports in America. Although suitable for all genders and ages, many athletes are approaching the game as a safer alternative to football. With its unique look and energetic game play, Lacrosse has the potential to become America’s next past time.
It starts with the Kids
The exponential growth of lacrosse over the last decade can be attributed to the strong interest seen in children. Kids under the age of 14 hold the largest group of lacrosse participants in the country. In 2015, US Lacrosse, the nation’s head honcho when it comes to the sport, reported over 440,000 boys and girls under age 14 played the game; which is 20,000 more than the year before.
Suitable for boys and girls of all ages, the popularity is seen in the numbers. Overnight summer camps and travel club teams keep the kids engaged in lacrosse and inscribe a love for the game that is too strong not to share. For the second year in a row, there are 14 states with at least 10,000 kids playing Lacrosse. US Lacrosse reported New York leading the pack with 56,335 future lacrosse all stars.
Lacrosse at the high school and collegiate level
The love and excitement for the game is carried up to the High School level where kids are competing for a free education. According to the 2015 US Lacrosse participation survey, more than 300,000 high school students competed which solidified Lacrosse as the Nations’ fastest growing high school sport since 2001.
Aside from far less physical play than football, parents and teens are continuing to play and support the game of lacrosse. Because of its untapped potential, parent see obtaining a college scholarship through lacrosse a lot more attainable than football or even basketball. Lacrosse is far less saturated and therefore gives student athletes a strong chance at saving their parents money with a free education.
It also helps a parents case that students who play lacrosse in college, have one of the highest graduation rates in college sports.
As of 2016, there are currently 21 states that recognize lacrosse as a championship sport. Lacrosse primarily began in private schools on the east coast but is now making its entrance in to public schools increasing its diverse popularity.
Lacrosse over Football
For the last few years, the game of football on all levels has been under scrutiny. Parents and athletes were concerned with concussion rates and sever injuries related to football. Star football athletes who were also studs in lacrosse like Paxton Alexander and Brandon Mullins are choosing Lacrosse over football.
In the NFL, greats like Calvin Johnson and Jarod Mayo are choosing to preserve their health by walking away from the game earlier than expected. You saw a glimpse of this in 1999 when running back legend Barry Sanders walked away at the tender age of 30.
Aside from walking completely away from football, there have been some NFL athletes showing some talent in the game of Lacrosse.
Before becoming a super bowl wide receiver that Tom Brady has a knack for creating, Chris Hogan was a lacrosse stud at Penn State University. Also a star football player out of New Jersey, Chris Hogan was faced with the luxury of choosing between playing college football or lacrosse. Hogan opted to join the up and coming lacrosse program at Penn State University.
“He certainly played Lacrosse as a football player.”- Nittany Lions Coach Glenn Thiel
At Penn State, Hogan flourished within the program from freshman year. By the end of his junior year, he was voted First team All-ECAC as well as team captain. His physical play also went unnoticed, leading the team with 10 penalties.
“Younger kids coming in saw the product that he was — the size, the speed, the strength — and they would try to emulate that. He was somebody people wanted to mold themselves after.’’ – Glenn Thiel
Because of a red shirt sophomore year, Hogan had a year left of eligibility and opted to take his talents to Monmouth University, where his journey to the Super Bowl began.
Bottom line, football is a dangerous sport and as more research studies are done, players are choosing their health over a big check. Because it is so popular among our up and coming youth, lacrosse has the potential to change the culture of American Sport.