Interesting stuff this week from the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association…  Lacrosse participation continues to rise while most team sports have experienced declines in the past year.  Our sport has received a lot of hype over the past decade for its tremendous growth and Im proud that Major League Lacrosse and the Cannons have been able to contribute to that growth nationally and in New England.  Of course, the caveat to these growth numbers is the relative small size of the lacrosse population…it’s much easier to grow quickly when you start small. 

That said, comparing lacrosse participation numbers to other sports is a valuable measure of our progress.  Consider ice hockey, widely considered the “4th major professional” sport in the US.  The parallels between lacrosse and hockey are plentiful, from the requisite skills to the geographic concentration of each sport’s core fan bases to the life-long commitment of participants evidenced by each sport’s healthy 30+ and 40+ men’s leagues.  Ice hockey participation increased in 2009 to 2.1 million.  Lacrosse participation increased in 2009 to 1.2 million.  We have almost 60% of hockey’s total participation.  Considering the relative attention garnered by each sport from the mainstream media, that bodes well for lacrosse.  We are largely ignored by traditional media outlets (with a few notable exceptions) while hockey enjoys consistent coverage on network and cable TV, newspapers, and on-line. 

Take a look back 12 years and you see that hockey has arrived at its 2.1 million participants via a 12% decline over that period.  Over the same 12 year period, lacrosse has more than doubled to its current total of 1.2 million participants. 

The trend for lacrosse is positive indeed. 

Since 2001, when Matt Dwyer and a group of dedicated lacrosse fans launched the Cannons, part of our mission has been to support the growth of the game.  We will continue to do so by:

  • sharing our collective lacrosse experience through Coaches Clinics such as those we have helped run with MBYLL over the past 10 years
  • promoting all high profile lacrosse games in New England as we have with the NCAA Championships at Gillette Stadium in 2009 and 2009, the High School State Championships at Harvard in 2009, and the New England Classic and Harvard-Duke games this weekend
  • encouraging Cannons players to get out in the communities and work with our future lacrosse stars
  • inviting youth lacrosse teams to play at Harvard Stadium before our games, fueling kids’ aspirations to one day play for the Cannons
  • televising all Cannons games on ESPN, Universal Sports and ESPN3 on-line, providing more opportunities for non-lacrosse fans to see our game and get hooked


The list can go on.  I’ve said many times in many venues that we take seriously Matt Dwyer’s charge to support the growth of the game.  Im glad to see the data is pointing toward success.  We will continue our efforts to expose more athletes to lacrosse and encourage all of you to join us. 

See you at Harvard tomorrow night and Gillette Stadium on Saturday…

Team Sports Participants Continues to Erode
SportsOneSource Media     Posted: 3/29/2010

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association’s Sports, Fitness, and Recreation Participation Overview (2010 edition), baseball, football and basketball all continued to show notable declines in participants in 2009. Outdoor soccer and outdoor softball saw smaller declines. But notable gains were seen in lacrosse, rugby and ice hockey.

Baseball participation was down 7.9% in 2009 to 13.9 million, and is now down 12.7% over the nine-year period since 1988.  Basketball was off 8.6% to 24 million participants in 2009 and is now off 8.4% since 1998.

In the football category, tackle was down 11.7% to 6.8 million participants last year. No figure was available for the nine-year trend. Touch football was down 14.6% to 9 million in 2009; flag football slid 10.4% to 6.6 million.

On the brighter side, ice hockey participants increased 12.2% to 2.1 million in 2009 although it remains down 12.3% since 1998. Lacrosse participants added another 6.2% to 1.2 million and has increased a whopping 131.1% since 1998. Also seeing growth was rugby, which gained 8.7% to 750,000 participants in 2009.

Outdoor softball lost 3.7% of its participants to 13.7 million although indoor softball grew 3.7% to 4.9 million participants. Similarly, indoor soccer participants gained 3.7% to 4.9 million but outdoor soccer participants slid 3.7% to 13.7 million.

Field hockey was down 4.7% to 1.07 million in 2009.

Cheerleading was down 2.2% to 3.1 million in 2009 but has grown 15.2% since 1988.

Court volleyball decreased 11.3% to 7.3 million and grass volleyball was down 4.6% to 4.9 million but beach volleyball increased 7.3% 4.5 million. Beach volleyball, however, is down 14.7% since 1998.

Wrestling participation declined 11.2% last year and is now down 20.3% since 2008.

Mark Kastrud


Explore posts in the same categories: Boston Cannons, lacrosse, Marathon Mark

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: