Over the past three to four years one sport has begun to explode across the NAIA landscape. No its not bowling, which was recently approved as an emerging sport, nor is it wrestling which has seen its popularity in the NCAA dwindle, it is the dominately east coast sport of lacrosse.
The popularity of the sport has grown in the recent decade, according to Jim MacKenzie, the integrated marketing manager at New Balance Team Sports, lacrosse is “the growth sport for team sports in North America. The speed and strategies of the game and how th
e game is played matches up great with the other sports American kids are playing,” he said. “Lacrosse has elements of football and ice hockey as well as the constant movement of soccer. It’s natural in the spring for kids to move over to lacrosse.” See statistics on Lacrosse’s popularity growth in Sports Business Daily.
With the majority of NAIA members being enrollment driven institutions, lacrosse appears to be a perfect fit for many. It requires a large numbers of participants and low cost of start up. Even land strapped-campuses can add lacrosse with the availability of cheaper more advanced athletic turf, the soccer field can now do double or triple duty.