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.
Sure, 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?