America's Next Most Popular Sport
There was a good chunk of my life (namely, High School), where most everything I did revolved around Lacrosse. Yes, in the fall I played Soccer, and in the Winter/Summer I did theatre, but Lacrosse was what I spent all year getting ready for. I worked out year 'round, was constantly working on my skills, brought my stick with me almost everywhere, and like many current or former Lacrosse players, was absolutely baffled that more people didn't follow the sport. Here's a picture of me about to shoot a ball...I remember this game, we got absolutely obliterated. But the picture is nice!
When someone says Lacrosse, most people picture prep schools and the northeast (specifically New England, New York, and Maryland) and that's not a far off stereotype. I myself went to a small private school in Portland, Maine, and I remember watching Lacrosse spread to the local public schools when I was younger. I started playing when I was around 8, and every year more and more kids were joining the league from the surrounding schools. There was a time where Lacrosse was branded "the fastest growing sport in America", and then it kind of disappeared. Well I think it's time we took another look at it, because not so long ago, something pretty big happened.
The Rochester Rattlers announced they are moving to Dallas.
You have questions, I might have answers. Let's back up.
Who are the Rochester Rattlers?
Well they're a Major League Lacrosse team that until about a month ago, were based in Rochester, New York.
Major League Lacrosse? That's a thing?
Why yes, there is generally a professional league for just about anything you can think of. I give to you The Lawn Mower Racing Association, Fantasy Fishing, and the World Egg Throwing Federation. Major League Lacrosse is the sport you may have seen or played at some point, which is played on a field roughly the size of a soccer field, and like a Hockey rink, the field extends behind the goal. It's not to be confused with National League Lacrosse, which is a similar, but separate sport played on an indoor rink almost exactly like a Hockey rink.
Does anyone actually care about Lacrosse?
Many people do, yes. But don't take my word for it, it's the National Sport of Canada.
Okay, so why is it important that a team from a professional league in a niche sport is going to Dallas?
I am SO glad you asked. When I played Lacrosse, it existed basically in the Northeast only and exclusively. The states known for the sport were (and really still are) New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland. No matter how much you loved it, you would meet people from other places and they'd have either never heard of it or they would have played it in Gym class no more than a couple of times. Over the last 15 years, that started to change. First the sport made its way to the west coast -- California, Washington, and Oregon began playing in earnest. Next it bled back east with Colorado and the region around the Rockies picking up sticks. Still, though, the sport has been confined to very specific places.
Texas changes that.
Texas is football country, we know this, they eat sleep and breathe football down there. In the offseason most football players either play baseball, or work out to get ready for the next football season.
Enter Lacrosse. A new professional sport that takes place in the spring, with the athleticism of soccer, the finesse of Basketball, the strategy and planning of Soccer, with the pace of Hockey. If they market themselves right, the football players won't have too hard a decision and will switch over to Lacrosse. They've got a whole new, untapped market of a fan base, with very little competition. The simple fact that they're leaving one of the most popular Lacrosse spots in the nation, upstate New York, to move to uncharted territory, speaks to their confidence at how the sport will catch on. And should a team in Dallas work? You'll start to see teams popping up in small markets on the way back to the hotbed. While we've seen that happen in the north, the sport hasn't caught on in the south in the same way. I think that's about to change.
So where does that bring us? Well lots of places. There are probably 30,000 words I could write about Lacrosse, why I think its America's next most popular sport, and what I think we'll see start to happen. There are also many things I could write about why I think Lacrosse is the most exciting sport around and why you should pay more attention to it. So I'm going to do all of that over the next few months in a series called The Face Dodge. Stay tuned!