Taking part in a sport, such as lacrosse, as a child can impart valuable life lessons on teamwork, perseverance, and healthy living. Not to mention children often leave the team with lifelong friends. For these reasons, among others, almost a million youth athletes play lacrosse throughout the US. With that being said, the 1-year growth percentage of youths playing lacrosse has pretty consistently decreased with each passing year. In fact, in 2017 the percentage went into the negatives for the first time in that 11-year period. So with such positive benefits and outcomes, why then, are players and coaches seeing a drop in participation numbers among players.
As is the case with any contact sport, the safety of their child is always a concern among parents. And while football has received the brunt of this backlash, lacrosse is in no way immune to the critics.
For lacrosse and many other sports, the rules of the game vary depending on whether the child is male or female. While boys’ lacrosse allows for a lot more contact than girls’, they also have much stricter rules in terms of protective equipment. For example, boys’ lacrosse requires helmets with facemasks while girls may wear a soft helmet if they choose. But even with these safety guidelines, injuries such as sprains, strains, bruises, and more major injuries still occur relatively frequently.
As many parents have quickly come to realize, the cost of having even one child play a sport is astronomical. New equipment alone costs $800 on average and can go as high as $1600 depending on the brand and quality. And while you can typically cut the costs of gear by purchasing gently-used items or receiving hand-me-downs from a friend or family member, there is no way to avoid the fees or travel costs for tournaments. As a result, there is a smaller number of players as well as a huge economic gap in lacrosse, particularly on travel teams or at a tournament as lower income families are forced to forgo the additional expenses.
There are many ways to move past these barriers and help increase the number of players present at games and tournaments. Most, if not all, injuries sustained during a lacrosse game can be avoided with proper gear, an understanding of the sport, and respect for the rules in place. In regards to costs, fundraising is always an option especially since there are great tools on the market such as SportCoups that allow you to raise money without having to look up from your phone. Because in the end, these barriers that lead to decreased attendance in any sport are only resulting in children missing out on valuable lessons and skills they can gain from taking part in youth athletics.