Lacrosse is 1920s College Football
It’s the Roaring 20s. You’re in New York City. You walk by flappers and fancy new automobiles. America has prospered since the Great War’s conclusion. The economy is booming. The New York Yankees are America’s team. Babe Ruth is a stud. Beer is bootlegged. With extra cash, you’re looking to splurge. You plan on buying tickets to a Yankees game. Something odd happens. You pass a man, on the sidewalk, talking football. They predict football will become America’s game. Football? You think. No way.
That crazy man you strolled past was ahead of his time. You didn’t know it, but football was on its way to becoming a national religion. The Roaring 20s are when football hit its stride. Notre Dame became a national brand. Universities invested in football stadiums. Commercial radio began covering games. Broadcast stations covered local games. College football was trending. To capitalize on demand, the American Professional Football Association (NFL) was organized. College football attendance exceeded ten million by decade’s end.
100 years later, could lacrosse experience a similar explosion? Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in America. It’s no longer restricted to east coast elites. Just like college football’s growth led to the NFL, collegiate lax has led to professional lacrosse. Online streaming and television deals have replaced commercial radio. Nowadays, you find PLL games on NBC, college lacrosse on ESPN, MLL on ESPN+, and NLL on Bleacher Report Live.
Social media has replaced radio and newspaper ads. Twitter and Facebook make it easy to reach the masses. Leagues are easy to find. A quick Google search provides you with hundreds of links. Thanks to social media, lacrosse is accessible. Syracuse men’s lacrosse has 69.5K Instagram followers. The Premier Lacrosse League (entering year two) has 205K Instagram followers. In 2020, it’s easier and cheaper to put yourself out there.
The PLL had 10,572 fans in attendance for New Jersey playoff games (stop saying you stopped in New York!). A huge jump from lacrosse’s usual attendance. Generally, a crowd of 4,000 is massive (for field lacrosse). That’s a major jump. In terms of considered success, this is like college football’s 1920s attendance increase. Yale began hosting 80,000 fans for their epic rivalry versus Harvard. Could lacrosse see a similar jump entering the 2030s. No, I’m not saying we’ll see 80K at one game; however, could we see 20-30K at one PLL stop by decade’s end? In 2020, Syracuse hosted 5,483 fans against Army. By 2030, could we see that number double?
I’m not saying it will or will not happen. But, of all the sports most primed for a colossal explosion, lacrosse has the best chance. There’s a lot of work needed to be done. The lacrosse community will make or break this fantasy. But, if people work hard and promote the game like never before, I’m hopeful. Who knows? Maybe, in 2120, someone will write how their sport is primed to grow like 2020s lacrosse.
What do you think? Will lacrosse explode this decade? Will we see a massive increase in attendance or television viewership? Whatever your thoughts, air them by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can comment directly onto this article by subscribing. By subscribing, you’ll be notified whenever I publish a new article. Here’s to hoping the 2020s are lacrosse’s decade! Don’t go too crazy in quarantine!