Lacrosse & The Future
By now, we have all heard that Johns Hopkins is going to the Big 10. Some folks are really happy, such as the Frank the Tank faithful. As they should be. As a preface, there should be no illusion that this is a disaster for the ACC. This is not the conference apocalypse. There should not be any wailing and gnashing of teeth.
But it is kind of bad news, right?
Here is why.
Lacrosse is a sport of the future.
The more you think about it… football is 80-90% of the revenue. At the same time, people are recognizing the danger of playing the sport. Junior Seau and others have had significant brain damage playing the sport. If more and more parents stopped letting their kids play football, would anyone be surprised? This will not happen tomorrow or even next year. But somewhere down the line it may happen.
How many suburban kids are boxing these days? These things take a generation, but they happen. Think of why boxing is less popular. Physical? Check. Brutal? Check. Overrun by profiteering? Absolutely. When is the last time you watched boxing on a major network? No, it’s been a long time since the best boxing shifted to PPV, HBO, and Showtime. As the profit went up, the popularity went down. $50 for 1 minute fights will do that. And look where college football is headed… from all-over-the-air networks to ESPN, and then ESPN to conferences having their own networks. The money is starting to change access to sports. It is a slippery slope. Football is following boxing’s path.
What suburban kids are playing is lacrosse. Lacrosse is not as physical as football, but it is more of a contact sport than soccer. It has the stick work and checking of hockey. It has the skill and teamwork of soccer, but with a lot more scoring. It requires the athleticism of all of the above. It is a fast sport like basketball and unlike baseball. It does not require the expensive ice time–you can play lacrosse on any soccer field. You can practice with a brick wall. You need some equipment, but you do not need ice skates or expensive time at an ice arena.
Nor do you need to be tall. You do not need to weigh 300 pounds. You do need to be athletic, but you can be any size and play the sport.
It is also gender neutral. Women play lacrosse. This will lead to a bunch of future mothers that encourage their kids to play lacrosse. And if you have ever lived in an NHL city, you know that women are not adverse to hockey, despite being physical. It is just that some people–men and women–can make a reasonable argument that football goes too far… like boxing. Suburban kids are shifting to lacrosse.
No sport will ever generate the revenue of football, but lacrosse could turn itself into a revenue sport. Which is why the Big 10 was wise to jump on the Johns Hopkins opportunity.
Which is also why the ACC might have missed out on this one. You only get so many opportunities to partner with a sports icon. Adding Johns Hopkins lacrosse to the same conference that has Notre Dame football would have been a nice win. The loss is not catastrophic. But it is a loss nevertheless.
What do you think? And don’t just regurgitate that the ACC will be fine. Of course it will. And if it is not fine down the road, it will not be because of this one decision. Instead, what do you think of the future of lacrosse and where should the ACC go based on that future?