Every American has heard of two things: soccer (football) and Team USA. Given this, many people can associate “Team USA” with at least one or two sports played internationally: basketball, soccer, cycling, etc. How many people think of lacrosse when they hear “Team USA”?
From here on in, this article will include many links to other websites with statistics or news:
Common understanding of lacrosse includes knowing it is the fastest growing sport in America. By now, most laxers know this and spread the word conversationally.
See growth rates here:
Soccer is the biggest athletic irony I can think of. The most influential and popular sport globally also stands as one of the least viewed in America. Other countries in Europe and Africa cannot get enough soccer!
Lacrosse, in my opinion, will become the new soccer. Technically its influence has been around since the early 20th century, in which time it was temporarily included in the Olympics. Lacrosse was removed from the international games; as cause and effect would have it, the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) was created in 1967. Its current headquarters is located in Wilmington, Delaware (the United States).
Why go through all this if lacrosse-followers and players probably know all this? The lacrosse community is a small fish in the big ocean, and we must spread the word!
The first FIL World Championship, which is played every 4 years like the Olympics, was played in 1974. Team USA has won every championship except the first game, in which Canada won. The FIL has creatively found a way to keep consistent attention on the global sport growth. They divide lacrosse into the following categories:
Women’s World Cup
U19 Women’s World Championships
U19 Men’s World Championships
Men’s World Championships
Indoor Men’s World Championships
Separating the sport by styles, genders or ages means the federation is able to showcase a championship every year. Reference here:
There is a lot of attention on international lacrosse as of recently because in 2014 the Men’s World Championships (outdoor) will be played in Denver, Colorado. Why Denver, of all places? Well, when the FIL was looking at different cities, they found that in NCAA collegiate lacrosse, Denver had the fastest growth rate and the quickest success rate of any startup collegiate varsity program. Also, the city had not suffered during the recession as much as others, and would be able host an event of this scale.
Team USA has been publicizing its processes of recruiting, cutting, practicing, etc. In addition to all the U.S. craze, European teams have been stepping out onto the scene. Team England (when is the last time you associated England with lacrosse, huh?) has scheduled a fast-paced tour of the United States.
“This tour is vital to our preparations. You don’t get the opportunity to play this level of competition here in Europe, so to test yourself against NCAA DI teams gives you a great gauge of how much progress you’ve made as a team, and on a personal level what you need to do to be in shape for Denver.”
— Sam Patterson, Defenseman, Team Englandf
While visiting the United Stated, England played Dartmouth, Harvard, Bryant, Brown, UMass; and, they get to see live professional games. England plans to host the 2018 Men’s World Championship.
Reference England lacrosse here:
There are other countries popping up all over the place. Israel has recently created a national lacrosse program. The men’s team focuses on competition and traveling, even having come to Syracuse to play the school; the women’s team focuses on spreading the lacrosse culture and influence throughout the country (Israel) by instructing youth there. The players are barely given enough compensation to play, and many find part time jobs in these foreign countries.
Reference Israel Lacrosse here:
Amongst the newest full members of the FIL is Singapore. Yet another highly successful startup team is Thailand (quickest confirmation team in FIL).
Reference Thailand here:
There are many programs in place to spread the sport globally. Fields of Growth is working in Jamaica and Uganda currently, volunteering to help local people and to teach lacrosse. They hope to bring an Uganda team to the 2014 games. Many internships and study abroad programs are available to college and high school students through F.o.G.
Fields of Growth:
A full list of teams by region, schedule, membership, etc. are available here:
Let’s bring this article back around in focus to America, where the soonest upcoming championships will be played. There are many aspects to this event that will contribute to its level of public achievement and enjoyability.
First off, American culture is advertisement and consumerism. Lacrosse has its very own style and attitude yet is not as popular as American Eagle or Abercrombie and Fitch. The TV space and commercial contracts available will fill up stupidly fast with lacrosse merchandise, gear, protective technologies, etc. Other markets and corporations will notice the sport more, and provide more outlets of marketing and sales, making lacrosse that much stronger.
Secondly, the 2015 Men’s Indoor World Championships will be hosted in the Buffalo/Syracuse area of New York. The home regions of the sport itself, and yet again in America. With new attention and spotlight on lax, more spectatorship will be expected, as well.
Finally, lacrosse in the United States has created multitudes of opportunity for teens to find collegiate scholarships, sports marketing programs and high school coaching positions. Hosting the 2014 World Championship will only increase those growth rates.
Lacrosse is making it BIG TIME! Becoming as world-renowned as soccer, lacrosse is being played, and even competed, around Europe, Asia, Australia and in spots of Africa. Quickly moving from America’s fastest growing sport to the world’s fastest growing sport, we can all hope and enjoy the popularity of this great game, culture and history.