In 2020, U.S Lacrosse reported that lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport among the youth demographic. The rapid growth of lacrosse has been attributed to multiple factors including the proliferation of school sports teams and club leagues. According to U.S. Lacrosse, lacrosse participation among all age groups increased by 32% between 2008 and 2018. The growth of the sport is seen most in the United States, specifically in youth and Division 1 participation as well as the overall market size.
Lacrosse is more than just a sport. Adam Gardner, guitarist, and vocalist, once said: “It’s family; lacrosse is not like any other sport, it’s more of a way of life.” Those who are fans of lacrosse are extremely loyal and see the game as something the extends beyond the field. In 2020, Nielsen Sports stated that brands partnering with MLL have, “a deep connection to fans through the customer journey.” This study showed that 75% of lacrosse fans have a higher tendency to buy products from MLL sponsors. Some of the recent professional lacrosse partnerships include Gatorade, Under Armour, and AT&T.
Much like U.S Lacrosse the NCAA also reported that lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport, with over 36,000 athletes in 2015. In an NCAA study conducted in 2018, it was discovered that between 2003 and 2018, Division 1 men’s lacrosse grew 61% in participation and Division 1 women’s lacrosse grew 97%. The growth of college lacrosse can be traced to youth participation which has rapidly grown over the past two decades.
Even with growing participation in Division 1 lacrosse, their revenue is nowhere close to other college programs. In 2021, the highest revenue-generating college sports program was University of Texas (UT) football which grossed over $156 million, while the top revenue lacrosse program, Johns Hopkins, only made about $4 million (2.5% of what (UT) made in 2021).
When the MLL merged with the PLL in December of 2020, MLL commissioner Sandy Brown explained how the merger is projected to benefit the future of lacrosse. Brown said, “this merger not only benefits the future of the game, for it combines the history of professional lacrosse with an innovative approach that has already accelerated the game’s growth. Further, the major market commercial opportunities are in their infancy. The runway for a combined effort is robust”.
Women’s professional lacrosse leagues have also grown in the past decade. One women’s league is Athletes Unlimited, which was started in July and will continue until late August this year. The league features 56 players including Alex Aust, Kayla Treanor, and Michelle Tumolo. Even in its infancy, Athletes Unlimited women’s lacrosse has gained multiple sponsorships from companies such as Geico, Nike, and Gatorade.
With the rapid growth of lacrosse in the United States, the sport has also reached a new height internationally. On July 20, 2021, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to grant full recognition to the international federation for lacrosse. As the sport of lacrosse continues to grow worldwide, we will hopefully see it debut in the 2024 Olympic Games.
Lacrosse is a sport that is on the rise. The market is growing while participation grows in the United States and globally. Current players have become celebrities with marketable personalities across men’s and women’s lacrosse such as Athelo Group’s own Alex Aust and Marcus Holman. The late lacrosse coach and Hall of Famer, Chris Hall said it perfectly; “Lacrosse seems to be a sport of the future. Maybe it’s even become the sport of the now.” Lacrosse is more than a sport; it goes beyond and builds a family and community around the sport.