Typically, when you think of major sports in America, the "big four" come to mind: hockey, baseball, basketball and football. But since the turn of the century, the country's fastest growing sport has been lacrosse. Specifically in the participation in high school lacrosse, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. High school participation grew 528 percent from 1990 to 2008. Needless to say, that's more growth than any other sport has experienced within the same timeframe.
So just what can be attributed to this massive growth? There's the game itself, a hockey-meets-soccer hybrid that's fun and affordable to play, it’s also easy to pick up. Just lifting up a stick and trying the game out can become addicting. But then there's another big factor that is continuing to contribute to the game's growth — the popularity of the sport among female players.
While more and more high schools are offering girls lacrosse as an athletic option, it's the collegiate level where the game is really exploding. It's estimated that there are currently over 400 college women's lacrosse programs competing in Divisions I, II & III. That's significantly more than the 240 men's programs at the same levels of play. To give you a better idea of the growth of the sport over the past 30 years, in 1981, there were only 105 women's lacrosse teams, with only 39 at the DI rank.
Skill vs. Strength
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why lacrosse is taking off among women, as opposed to other sports like football and hockey, is because there are different rules for men than there are for women. For instance, while men’s lacrosse is largely a contact sport based on size and strength, there is no body checking allowed in the women's game, so the lady laxer relies more
on skill and strategy than strength and intimidation. This also makes the sport more affordable for women laxers, because there are fewer upfront equipment costs involved. Unlike the men's game, in which helmets and various chest and arm padding is required, all that's required for the women's game is the following:
Because of the different rules and regulations based on gender, the equipment styles also vary between men and women. Aside from that, all that's necessary for women laxers is a comfortable pair of athletic shorts and possibly a set of lacrosse gloves.
Rise of the Lady Laxer
While women's lacrosse has grown greatly over the past few decades, many believe that this growth is nowhere near leveling out. For instance, in 2014 the NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Tournament expanded to include 26 teams. And Division I women's lacrosse on a whole welcomed eight new schools to bring the DI total to an even 100 programs. What's more is that while lacrosse has always been perceived as an Ivy League school sport, the additional DI teams are more mainstream schools such as USC, Michigan and Colorado.
Today, like the sport in general, women's lacrosse is as strong as it has ever been. And just as many experts forecast, this surge in women participation could just be the beginning.
To get your start in lacrosse check out Lax World today for all your women's lacrosse equipment, apparel and more!