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The Fastest Growing Sport in the Country   arrow

Lacrosse has been tagged as “the fastest game on two feet” and those “feet” are rapidly moving across the country. Colleges and High Schools are now adding Lacrosse to their athletic repertoire as the sport gains attention in areas that knew little if anything about the game in the past.

Lacrosse originated from Native North Americans who often played the game as a way to train for warfare. (Awesome!) The game may not be played for the same reasons today, but the action and intensity that is displayed is still highly competitve and exciting.

Traditionally, Lacrosse has been most popular in the Northeast, especially in hotbeds like Baltimore, New England, and New York. This is no longer the case with hotbeds now forming in the states of California, Colorado, Texas, Florida, and several other. In 2000 there were 1,273 programs across the country. Below is a map that illustrates the placement of these programs in 2000. The city of each program was geocoded to find it’s lat/lon and then placed on the map. The red dots represent the lat/lon placement of a program’s city.

2000 HS Boys

2000 Boy's High School Lacrosse

In 2007 there were a recorded number of 2612 Boy’s High School Lacrosse Programs across the country. That is more than double the amount that existed in 2000 and equates to about 190 new programs a year in that time frame! All this in only 7 years! Below is a map showing the locations of the 2007 programs across the country. Pay close attention to comparing maps in the states of California, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Minnesota, and Illinois.

2007 HS Boys

2007 boys high school lacrosse

The Northeast still shows itself to be the hotbed of Boy’s High School Lacrosse but there is an apparent difference between the two heatmaps. The 2000 map is extremely bright in New England and we see in the 2007 map that the brightness of New England has faded a bit over time. It is highly probable that in another 7 years the heat will spread throughout the country as new programs spring up in areas other than the Northeast.

Below illustrates a state that has had tremendous growth from 2000 to 2007. It’s California!, a state far away from the traditional hotbed of New England. In 2000 there were a mere 40 High School Boy’s Lacrosse Programs throughout the entire state. In 2007, there were 173. This is a dramatic increase and illustrates how non-traditional hotbeds are discovering the sport and expanding it’s presence rapidly. The maps below show the spread from San Francisco to San Diego between 2000 and 2007.

2000 CA HS Boys

2000 high school lacrosse in CA

2007 CA HS Boys
2007 high school lacrosse in CA

Colleges and Universities are creating programs across the country which are attracting growing number of players to their schools. Below are two maps that show the growth of NCAA Division 3 Men’s Lacrosse Programs across the country. The first map illustrates the number of programs in 1999. The second map shows the number in 2007. In 1999 there were 112 programs and in 2007 there were 138. With the amount of high school players playing now the demand for more programs at the collegiate level has increased. It is expected that more colleges and universities will be creating lacrosse programs at their schools in the near future.

1999 D3 Mens

99 D3 lax mens

2007 D3 Mens

07D3laxmens

Another major factor in the spread and growth of lacrosse is Major League Lacrosse (MLL). Started in 2001 the league contains 10 teams all throughout the country. This has helped pushed the popularity of the sport by showcasing it’s top players. The teams have gained a following in their respected areas which include a few teams that are not located in the traditional hotbed of the Northeast. The map below illustrates where all ten of these locations can be found. Notice the correlation between MLL team locations and the growing hotbeds of High School Lacrosse. Western teams like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago are all in areas where high school programs are showing a tremendous amount of growth.

2007 MLL Teams

MLL 2007

What has caused the game to spread so quickly? There are a 4 main factors. 1. Increased visibility in the National Media. 2. Development of a Professional League 3. Growth of new High School and College Programs 4. Growth of Youth Programs. Knowledge of the game is spreading making it no longer appear to be in the dark to the general public. The game is also very appealing. It is fast-paced and full of non-stop action. It is a good mix between many popular American sports such as football, basketball, and hockey. The whole of America is starting to discover Lacrosse and it is spreading just as fast as the game itself.

Note: All college/high school data was compiled from laxpower.com, All MLL data was compiled from mll.com

Blog Article by: esri |dc