The annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations just came out and high school participation rates increased for the 27th year in a row. Lacrosse posted some strong numbers “with 197,572 total participants to rank 10th in girls participation and 11th for boys.”
While lacrosse’s HS participation numbers are healthy, there was an interesting article recently out of the Gazette by Will Jarvis that noted, “the sport may finally be hitting a participation plateau at the Colorado high school level.”
According to statistics provided by the Colorado High School Activities Association, boys' high school lacrosse participation has increased only 2.3 percent in Colorado since 2010 - 86 more male athletes played in 2015 than five years prior. Girls' participation shows a similar increase of 2.4 percent over that span.
Jarvis noted that the sport is still growing, but that it was not experiencing the boom it did before 2010. Moreover, while “the number of schools fielding lacrosse programs has risen by 59 percent since 2010,” a CHSAA's lacrosse administrator noted that a lot of that was because schools were consolidating & pooling players to play on district wide teams instead of individual squads.
While Jarvis’ article only pertained to Colorado, there are some concerning national trends as well. Justin Feil did a great piece last year regarding flattening growth numbers for Lacrosse Magazine.
The latest US Lacrosse Participation Report indicates that while the sport continues to grow — especially at the U15 level — it's not happening at the same intervals as it did from 2001 to 2011. During that span, new players poured into the sport at an average annual yield of 10.5 percent.
Over the last three years, those numbers have dipped to 5.5 percent in 2012, 3.4 percent in 2013 and 3.5 percent in 2014.
It’ll be interesting to see if these trends continue in the years to come.