The Wall Street Journal Sure Does Love Lacrosse!


The Wall Street Journal ran a story today about the growth of lacrosse in and around New York City and they hit on youth participation, NYC’s first D1 player, growth of the sport stats and more.  This isn’t the first time they’ve run a story on lacrosse either.  They have covered the announcement of the North American Lacrosse League when few other newspapers made much of a mention, and they have been dropping lax stories with more regularity.

Wall-Street-Journal-logo-741965Sure, the WSJ is an “elitist” publication that caters to the wealthier sections of our country’s population, and to some, this only reinforces the stereotype that all lacrosse players are wealthy sons of investment bankers.  And while this stereotype is statistically true less and less true each year, it still makes sense that a paper like the WSJ would be interested in lacrosse, and here’s why:  Because lacrosse is the next big sport that will create a serious return on investment.

It might not happen for years, or even decades, still.  It might be the next generation of lacrosse players that take the game to a big enough scale where profitability becomes standard.  Or it might happen tomorrow.  But the point is that it’s going to happen, and that the Wall Street Journal is talking about it for just that reason.

It’s not that suddenly more rich kids are playing lax.  Rich kids have been playing lax for years.  What makes the sport interesting to the WSJ is that now EVERYONE wants to play the sport, no matter where they come from, or where they fit in socio-economically, and the money people in the world see one thing when that happens: opportunity.

So I’m really glad that the WSJ is talking about lax.  It means the sport IS growing, and it means that its future is most likely quite bright.  But it also means the sharks are in the water, and they’re starting to sniff blood.  I’d expect we’re going to see a lot of new “pro” leagues, products and services offered within lacrosse.

The sport will still keep its dedicated loyalists, but I also think it could see an invasion of outsiders, and that is something to keep an eye on.  It’s not that outsiders are bad, but if people are only entering to make a quick buck, we should be wary.  When someone who doesn’t LOVE lax enters the game, they do so expecting a return on their investment, and that is reasonable.  But sometimes that desire to make money will take precedence over positive growth.  Again, I’m not saying we should forego new interested parties just to be conservative, but when investing comes into play, not everyone has pure motives.

In some cases, the additional companies or competitors will simply weed themselves out and the most efficient, successful companies will carry on.  Lacrosse people know quality still, so pure gimmicks won’t work.  But what about more delicate institutions, like the MLL or even LaxAllStars?  If someone came in with the capital required to do either of those things, could established parties go the way of the Dodo?  You bet!

The solution for entities that don’t want to get swept away with the rising tide, they must do two things: work even harder to stay on top, and have the fortitude and belief to see their project through to fruition.  As anything gets more popular and the mountain grows, the number of people who will want to scale the peak will also increase, often exponentially.  The great thing is that it creates an atmosphere of competition, and forces everyone to step their game up.

This post is just a heads up to everyone out there in the lax world.  The Wall Street Journal writing about lax is great, and it means that the sport is definitely arriving on the big stage.  But it also means the work and intensity is only going to increase.  As someone who is obsessed with the sport, I must say I’m excited!

Think I’m off base here?  Well, what does all this lax coverage mean to you?


  1. The SPDR ETF ads certainly don’t do much to break stereotypes, but the WSJ coverage is certainly positive because it’s not focused on Duke lacrosse or other negativity.

    New entrants are already flooding the lax market (see: Easton, Nike, Adidas, Reebok).  Financially they wouldn’t do so unless they saw a positive ROI.  These companies that are established powers don’t do business by subsidizing units that are in the red.  They only greenlight new ventures that stand to make money.

    In the words of a certain lax icon: Boom Town.

    • I agree.  Every time I see a SPDR ad, I’m like WTF, who are they marketing to?
      As far as new entrants, you make a great point about them only entering an industry when they see it as profitable.  In the case of Adidas, they have not directly entered the lax market; their gear was made under license by a third party and they had little to do with it.  However, if/when they return to lax, they will do so in house (probably in conjunction with Reebok) and they will take it more seriously (like Reebok). 
      Based on what we’ve seen so far, the big companies coming in (Easton & Reebok especially) have taken this very seriously and are looking to become a dominant force.  Nike is slowly amping up their involvement as well and I would not be surprised if they finally buy STX out or set off on their own. 
      Love it or hate it, Under Armour’s gear says a lot about where lax is and where it is headed.  We’re talking about arguably the hottest brand in sports – one whose stock has not been public long yet is one of the strongest out there – launching a full equipment line at multiple price points.
      Based on the successful growth of lax in Asia, I’d wager that Mizuno will be making equipment within the next 10 years.  And it will be good, possibly great.
      These companies are just starting to realize what New Balance realized several years ago when they bought Warrior, then Brine – lacrosse is the biggest gold mine in sports right now.  The Big Four are pretty much tapped out in the US & Canada, and growth isn’t really happening overseas.  Soccer does not offer as many opportunities for sales since there is virtually no equipment and there is not much room for growth in a sport that EVERY country plays at high levels.  Lax, on the other hand, has seen a meteoric rise both in North America and across the world.  Its growth is unlike anything the sports industry has seen in the last century.  The potential for profitability is nearly infinite at the moment.  The big dogs are finding their way to the table and will take over lax the way they’ve taken over every other sport.  For better or worse.

      • Not that it matters, but it should be looked at is that UA is using a third party for their gear. I personally have never disliked the stuff that Paul put out at his prior company, the original torque is one of my all time favorites, but i know that it didn’t have the strongest following in the community. Looks are one thing, performance is another and in this sport players demand both. New companies have to pass the mirror test and hold up to a heavy slash.

        That said if UA isn’t careful and have some of the similar problems with sourcing and keeping stuff on the shelves, that other companies have had, they will quickly find themselves on the outside looking in, missing out on a huge opportunity.

        And Rabil will be with UA Lacrosse, gut feeling but you can quote me.

        • I agree with your assessment of UA’s attempt.  Being with a third party is a risky endeavor (as noted with Adidas).  And Gait is notorious for producing ugly garbage.  It will be interesting to watch how UA equipment performs and evolves both on the field and in the marketplace.
          I have no doubts about UA locking Rabil up. Since they are invested enough to license their brand on equipment and have already invested heavily in Rabil on the performance wear side, there is no way they’ll be willing to lose him to New Balance.