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How Popular Is Lacrosse in the USA and Worldwide? (Very!)

How Popular Is Lacrosse in the USA and Worldwide?

| The Popularity of Lacrosse in the USA and Worldwide |

Considered one of the oldest organized sports in the states, the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide has been on the increase. From its traction in the Olympics to the levels of inclusivity for all players, lacrosse is a universal sport to be enjoyed by many.

Here at The Hobby Kraze, we bring hobbies to you that can also be sporting and career-driven journeys. And, with our series on lacrosse as a sport, we simply couldn’t miss turning towards the growth in the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide.

Historically, lacrosse has been played by North American Indians and then adapted by European settlers in the 13th century. But, for one reason or another, the sport doesn’t feel as though it is receiving the recognition it should.

Especially when many global sport enthusiasts are associating the US athleticism ring with American Football and Basketball. So, we’ll be taking a look at how this sport became what it is today and where it will be going in the future.

1. The Popularity of Lacrosse in the USA and Worldwide in Terms of Rank

popularity of lacrosse

French-European settlers would come to the US and adopt a traditional Native American sport. They would then name this game “La Crosse”, translating to be a game called ‘the stick’. Today, as English speakers have adopted the phrase, it is pronounced as one word and in an Anglicized manner.

Then, in 1867, one of the most important parts to the history of lacrosse was formed: the rules. These rules would allow children and schools to play a standardized game which could also be used to entice new students into enrolling.

Asking lacrosse enthusiasts in a modern world, you’ll always be told the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide is immense. As the game has ballooned into becoming a sport supported by over 4-million fans across the globe, it is hard to argue.

Keeping to the comparison of other US-associated sports such as football and basketball, it may appear to be a small number of fans. But, here at the Hobby Kraze, we just want to remind you what the definition of ‘popular’ could mean to a global sport. For this reason, we’re going to look at the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide within different categories and scenarios.

Global Levels of Popularity by Media Participation

Lacrosse ranks 76th among the most popular sports in terms of participation on a global scale. Of course, there are many more sports ahead of lacrosse in this perspective. However, this ranking is only generated by the level of media coverage on a sport. Which simply means that TV channels, social media avenues, sports websites and radio stations don’t dedicate as much space and time to lacrosse as other sports.

This does not mean that the fan-base is not immense. For example, there are individuals who dedicate their lives as fans to more than one sport. It must also be noted that this ranking system is not official and is subject to change at regular intervals. Unsurprisingly, the first sports ranking higher than the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide include football and basketball.

Perceived Popularity Throughout the United States

According to studies, the popularity of lacrosse in the USA has a growth rate faster than other popular sports such as; swimming, bowling, soccer, ice hockey, and more.

As it stands now, lacrosse is most popular around the East Coast of the US. However, trends of this fantastically incorporative game are spreading among the West Coast and Middle States. Over the last ten years, lacrosse as a sport in schools and colleges across the US has seen a growth rate of 80%. And, it currently houses a whopping 28% growth rate with over 36-thousand lacrosse players sporting at a college level, alone.

How the Popularity Compares Within Educational Institutions

The popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide has seen such a considerable increase that high-school level lacrosse players have skyrocketed. In 2009, around 1980 schools across the US has lacrosse registered as an organized team sport. Yet, by 2014, this number had risen to 2,535 as lacrosse would gain a strong foothold among the younger generations (with some aspiring athletes beginning their career as young as 3-years-old).

This ability to include very young children into the game is a testament to just how open lacrosse is for different players. Since becoming such a popular sporting outlet for the young crowd, it makes sense to see many US college institutions making way for new lacrosse teams. Doing so, colleges are able to market their curriculum to a wider group of individuals who grew up with other sports such as lacrosse.

And, with the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide seeing such exponential growth, there’s no better time to hop on the band wagon and take-up your newest hobby.

Men’s College Lacrosse

In 1971, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) would sponsor the first lacrosse championship with teams from Maryland and Cornell. Today, there are around 32 US schools and colleges who are active participants in national lacrosse tournaments.

Alongside this, there are approximately 184 men’s club teams who also contribute their weight into the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association. And, a further 14 teams holding the flag for the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association. Showing the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide to be considerable.

Women’s College Lacrosse

As we move onto the women’s side of the lacrosse sport, there are some differences that would set it aside in terms of popularity. However, this gap between the men’s sport and women’s sport is only separated by a year’s time-gap, meaning the popularity of lacrosse in the US and worldwide for women is fast catching-up.

While the NCAA didn’t sponsor a women’s lacrosse tournament until 1982, the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association already has over 260 participating college clubs.

Looking at the Popularity of Lacrosse in the USA and Worldwide by Growth

It can be hard for the team here at The Hobby Kraze to provide definitive growth statistics for the popularity of lacrosse. This is because sport popularity is far from stable and can be recorded in far too unreliable many ways such as the media coverage ranking mentioned above.

However, we can look at the choice statistics among children as we’ve also discovered that the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide is on the rise among younger faces.

Some statistics have shown that school children will often choose lacrosse instead of other sports like football and basketball. In fact, this registration difference has grown 47% for the boy’s division and 43% for the girl’s division making it the fastest growing sport in the US today.

2. The Ultimate Guide to Lacrosse Leagues in the USA

What lacrosse stick Shaft Material Should You Get

Most sports websites and commentators will talk about the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide as though there are two professional leagues with each housing 20 teams in participation. These two teams most commonly referred to throughout the sporting and lacrosse realms are; The Major League Lacrosse and National Lacrosse League.

However, there are actually five. With three dedicated to the men’s divisions and two dedicated to the women’s, the growth in popularity for the lacrosse sports has generated the need for new associations to dedicate their athleticism and marketing strategies to new players. Atop the MLL and NLL, there is the Premier Lacrosse League, United Women’s Lacrosse League and Women’s Professional Lacrosse League.

The Major League Lacrosse (MLL)

The MLL is a semi-professional lacrosse league with the average game attendance of approximately 4,000 fans. And, with the season for the MLL running from April to August across a total of 14 games, it shows how significant the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide is. Yet, despite this popularity and success in the season, the average salary is quite low. Making the MLL one of the only sporting careers where the players will also need a second job to sustain them during the off-season.

The National Lacrosse League (NLL)

Much like the MLL, the NLL is a semi-professional league. However, unlike the MLL, this sporting season lasts from December to April with a total of 18 games.

And, the popularity differences between states and countries is very prominent; the average attendance of fans for the NLL ranges from 3,200 in places such as Vancouver but can grow to 15,000 in other areas such as Buffalo. Throughout the NLL, there are some teams which take the cake in terms of popularity and, in this league, they would be the Toronto Rock and Philadelphia Wings.

The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL)

Here at The Hobby Kraze, we bring hobbies and sports that you can also be competitive and strive for success with. And, of course, lacrosse is one of those sports. The highest paid lacrosse player in 2020 (which could be you in the future) is a Mr. Paul Rabil.

And, as the highest paid player, Rabil used his funds to establish the Premier Lacrosse League in 2018. Having historically played with the MLL, he looked at another way to focus his efforts towards building a new system where the players of the PLL are now shareholders in the league, itself.

The United Women’s Lacrosse League (UWLL)

The UWLL began its tracks in 2015 and is still a green game in terms of having far fewer players and teams than the male counterparts in the League.

The UWLL is made up of four teams based on the East Coast of the US named Baltimore Rise, Boston Storm, Long Island Sound and Philadelphia Force. This lack in the women’s league shows how the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide can differ between men and women.

The Women’s Professional Lacrosse League (WPLL)

Part of the US national team program since 1994, CEO Michele DeJuliis heads this league to increase female participation in the lacrosse sport at a national level. When it began in 2018, it originally had five teams named Brave, Fight, Fire, Pride and Command.

However, at the beginning of 2020, the league made the decision to remove Fire through a restructure of players. Yet again, this is testament to the significant difference in the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide between the men and women in the sport.

3. How is the Popularity of Lacrosse in the USA and Worldwide Increasing?

lacrosse in USA and worldwide

While lacrosse may not be the most popular of sports across the US, especially against the likes of football and basketball, recent predictions have suggested it could be up there in the near future. These predictions say the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide could grow to match the fan base of other popular sports such as football in years to come.

What we really have to focus on, is how this growth in popularity has come about in the younger generations of US athletes. Here at The Hobby Kraze, we’ve gathered together a list of potential theories:

Requirements to play lacrosse as a professional are not as strict or intensive as other sports. There’s no need to be particularly tall or muscular to be good at lacrosse, making it an ideal sport for children who have not yet reached physical maturity. For more information on the requirements of lacrosse, check out our other article; “What Experience is Needed to Play College Lacrosse?”.

Lacrosse is an engaging and fun game to both play and watch.

Unlike other contact sports, lacrosse is very safe. Despite using speed, movement, sticks and flying balls, the game relies on precision and has seen far fewer injuries in comparison to sports such as soccer and hockey.

The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program have produced a report to show lacrosse players experiencing two-thirds the number of injuries to soccer and one-tenth the injuries to football players.

With educational institutions adding lacrosse to their sports curriculum programs, it has become far easier for interested played to participate and engage in new sports, hobbies and games.

4. How Lacrosse has Fared as a Sport Throughout the Worldwide Olympic Games

What Length Should a lacrosse Stick Be

While the popularity of lacrosse in the US has soared and succeeded, this has not been reflected on a worldwide scale. And, although popular in many western cultures, it is not enough to be included in the Olympic Games at a participatory and competitive level. This shows how different the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide can be not only between the genders but across locality, too.

In order to qualify and become an Olympic sport, lacrosse would need to have 75 countries across the world – and covering each continent – also wanting to participate. However, there have so far only been applications from 63 countries who are willing to participate in lacrosse at an Olympic level.

In terms of the historical relationship lacrosse has had with the Olympics, it is very brief. This is because it was only considered in the St. Louis games of 1904 and the London games of 1908. In both of these global events, only five teams ever competed in lacrosse. And, even then it has been consistently mistaken for hockey.

Since then, lacrosse has been referred to as a demonstration sport. Successfully, lacrosse was used in the 1928, 1932 and 1948 games, yet the same would have been the case in 1996 and 2000 if it were able to push through.

As we look at the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide growing, it may be the case that we see lacrosse becoming more participatory in future Olympic games.

5. Popular Lacrosse Players

lacrosse positions

As we’ve mentioned, the highest paid lacrosse player around the world is Mr. Paul Rabil. Rabil earns around $35,000 USD each year through the leagues for his expertise and gameplay. However, as a popular player and the founder of the PLL, his chances for endorsement, affiliation and sponsorship has allowed other revenue streams to build a net worth of over $300,000 USD.

However, if you’re looking to compare the sport and salary against other popular sporting professionals such as basketball players, who have starting salaries of six and seven figures, it can seem as though the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide is significantly waning. But, we now know this isn’t the case.

And, there you have it. A definitive look into the popularity of lacrosse in the USA and worldwide. As part of this series into the lacrosse hobby, the team here at The Hobby Kraze have gathered everything you need to know about the teams, the requirements and the tools you’ll need to succeed. Check out these other articles and let us know what you think!

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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