Lacrosse = Ultimate?

Commenter Cath has some insight into the comparison between lacrosse and ultimate:

[quote]As a retired club player with two kids playing Ultimate in college and one playing youth/high school lacrosse, I’ve been very interested in comparisons between the two sports — for information’s sake, here are a few notes.[/quote]

[quote](We’re not on the east coast, so this is somewhat skewed, but just some general impressions).

Youth: Can’t even begin to compare participation numbers. Lacrosse is growing like crazy, slowly killing off many baseball/softball leagues (it’s also a spring sport) because the kids would rather run around with sticks. Which indicates they’d probably like to run around chasing a disc, too, if enough ex-player parents got youth programs off the ground.

High School: Lacrosse is a varsity sport in many east coast states, but outside of there it’s pretty much a club sport, just like ultimate. It seems that once Ultimate takes root in a state it grows much faster because the barriers to entry (cost, experience, etc) are much lower (although lacrosse participation still dwarfs Ultimate)

Youth Travel Club: Huge in lacrosse, completely missing in Ultimate. USAU’s strategy of tying participation in YCCs to existence of a league, instead of allowing independent club teams to participate, is stifling this possible growth source.
College: More than half of men’s lacrosse teams (not sure about numbers for women) are club teams that, like ultimate, enjoy varying levels of support from their schools. For these teams, participation costs are huge–neighbor kids payed $6k per season to play for U of Colorado. NCAA lax is the Holy Grail, where every kid would like to end up, but less than 1% will make it. Ultimate definitely has the advantage here, in accessibility.

MLL: Kids are aware of it, but don’t pay a huge amount of attention; but then, we’re not in a town with a team. I imagine if we were, we’d be going to games. Kids seems to find NCAA teams more interesting to follow.

NLL: What? A footnote, at least where we are.

Adult club & leagues: they exist, but very small. Ultimate definitely beats out lacrosse here. And yes, the fact that you don’t need a ref to get a game going helps. It seems like pro ultimate leagues are counting on this for its fan base, as opposed to kids/ex-players for MLL.

Lastly, as a beleaguered parent, it seems to me that MONEY is fueling lacrosse growth. There is a lot to be made — equipment, clothing (esp. NCAA), camps, etc. — which attracts organizers, advertisers, coaches, etc. The small gear requirements for Ultimate are part of its beauty and appeal, but it also means that overall growth is going to be smaller because it’s harder to make a buck on it.[/quote]

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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