BALTIMORE — A record total of 722,205 players competed on organized lacrosse teams in 2012, as reported in the annual US Lacrosse Participation Report released today. The growth rate from last year (683,730) was 5.5 percent, marking the ninth straight year of at least five percent growth.
More than half of the participants (389,275) compete at the youth level, representing a 7.8 percent growth rate from last year. Roughly 65 percent of the youth players are boys, but both genders have seen significant increases in participation in recent years. Over the last five years at the youth level, the number of boys playing has increased 62 percent and the number of girls playing has increased 61 percent.
Lacrosse continues to be the fastest-growing sport at the high school level, and a total of 282,148 players competed in 2012. According to data from the NFHS, from 2007 to 2012, a total of 750 schools added boys’ teams and 638 schools added girls’ teams. Those figures represent a 47 percent increase in the number of boys’ programs and a 43 percent increase in the number of girls’ programs, easily outdistancing bowling, which is the second-fastest growing sport with an 18 percent growth rate for boys and a 22 percent growth rate for girls.
Lacrosse is also the fastest-growing NCAA sport, and nearly 35,000 players competed on varsity, club or junior college teams in 2012. Thirty new varsity programs were added in 2012, including the University of Michigan’s men’s team, the first school with a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) football program to add men’s lacrosse since 1981.
US Lacrosse has produced the Participation Report annually since 2001, and over that time span the number of players has grown 184 percent, from 253,901 to 722,205. This survey counts only play on organized teams, and does not count leisure-time play of the sport.
The primary source of data for this report is provided by the 64 US Lacrosse regional chapters. Each chapter reports detailed participation at the youth level, and significant data is also obtained from US Lacrosse membership records, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Federation of State High School Associations and www.laxpower.com.