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JerseyJoey

Sport not in Olympics that continues to grow is...

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Lacrosse, and this is the model that wrestling should follow. They are not in the Olympics, the pro league gets no coverage and isn't a real career option. So why has the number of kids playing lacrosse doubled since 2001?

 

Simple. Wrestling markets to parents, lacrosse markets to kids. The best example of this is the periodicals. Read any major wrestling periodical and it is basically just lists of results and articles debating Dan Hodge vs Henry Wittenberg. ( Meaning things that nobody under the age of 50 cares about. ) All of the ads are for camps or tourneys or other things that Dads are going to pay for.

 

Lacrosse magazines are glossy and cool. They profile current guys, but they also include lifestyle stuff and the ads target teenagers, not their dads.

 

 

There is also the teamwork component. Wrestling is and always will be an individual sport, but it is becoming more so. We need more team events and team competitions. New Jersey has a strong dual meet program at the youth level, I partially attribute this to keeping more kids interested as opposed to other states.

 

Flo wrestling (with all it's flaws) is actually a small step into increasing the coolness factor. The problem is that the Flo model is flawed. As YouTube and Facebook and others have shown, consumers are much more Iikely to put up with advertising than they are to pay a fee. And if the advertising is something cooler than books about Frank Gotch, all the better.

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Lacrosse is a large roster team sport with some contact but it's safer (or at least viewed as such) than football. That helps it get a foothold, since it can be the safer alternative to football, which will be king for the foreseeable future.

 

That said, the biggest thing lacrosse has going for it that wrestling doesn't is that it is a rich kid sport. There are always going to be a bunch of rich parents ready to fund the next thing in lacrosse, and colleges that are starting teams know that they can add male enrollment and bring in a bunch of kids that don't need a lot of financial aid and might have parents ready to make sizable donations to the college.

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My kids play both, and wrestling costs WAY more money. (Mostly travel and tourney fees. )The rich kid thing is a perception based on the fact that it was initally popular in prep schools and preppy colleges. But there is nothing inherently expensive about it. And of course that doesn't explain the growth. Even in NJ lacrosse has passed wrestling in participants at the kid level and is expected to pass it at the HS level within 5 years.

 

Wrestling is a better sport, but lacrosse has better marketing and infrastructure.

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Probably about 15 years or so ago, while at a NYSSBA meeting in Albany, I was told by some people from Long Island that they were adding the sport just because it resulted in so many kids getting scholarships (and they cited the numbers for their school). Basically there was a push at the college level to get a lot of teams and that just made it a frenzy to try to get the few LAX players available which made the high schools flood into the sport.

 

I have a feeling we are still seeing the effects of the youth programs looking up to their local scholarship athletes since you will notice in most areas there are still dynasty programs.

 

Will this cause an eventual move to a new equilibrium where the sport isn't as popular? That is possible. But there has been enough success with MLL and indoor LAX to make me think we will see Lax continue to be a popular sport.

 

This line of thought is the same reason why it is so important to have collegiate programs in every state.

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Jersey Joey, not sure how you can say wrestling "costs way more money". Are you comparing a rec lacrosse league to a wrestler that goes all over the east coast for tournaments? If it is a rec wreslter and a rec lacrosse player--how would lacrosse be less money? Lax equipment--cleates, gloves, elbow pads, shoulder pads, helmet and a stick. Wreslting -shoes and a headgear? I have one high level wrestler and one pretty high level lacrosse player--spring travel team, fall team and a summer team and between equipment and tournament fees, registration fees, travel, the lacrosse player costs me more money.

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Lacrosse is growing very quickly, especially in the midwest. Lacrosse is no longer an east/west coast game. When I graduated HS back in the 90's (Nebraska) my high school did not have lacrosse nor did the state sanction the sport on the high school level, now the state has a lacrosse state championship. During my 4 yrs in Texas, the sport was gaining a large following. I never played but would have if it had been offered.

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i have two cousins in high school in central PA and neither of them could care less about the sport of wrestling. they both play lax and their parents travel all over the country going to lax camps. the sport is growing leaps and bounds, despite being extremely expensive. the lack of participation in the olympics make no difference whatsoever.

 

likewise, freestyle wrestling is going to take a hit if it's not in the olympics, but i doubt it will have much of an impact on folkstyle wrestling. a couple good MMA fights by college wrestlers will raise the profile of the sport more than any amount of freestyle or greco matches at the olympics.

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Yeah. I've seen a lot of lacrosse teams in NY high schools with very little in the way of wealthy parents.

 

- What is it that tips you off?

 

Unlike Maryland, where I live now and where the sport is dominated by the prep schools, in New York (where I grew up), lacrosse is a public school sport, so plenty of not so rich kids are playing. Other than a stick ($40-$50), a helmet and gloves (often provided by the school) and cleats, expenses shouldn't be that great for a participant. However, to Jersey Joey's point, the rise of travel teams in the summer and fall is driving up the cost for an elite player to get noticed by schools for potential aid.

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Wrestling has done its self in because only the best succeed in wrestling and thats not many...kids with average talent never get much interest from the coaching staff, sure they get a little every now and then..Even at a paid big tuition club average kids are left behind. Yes the cream rises to the top but not to give attention to the average kids in wrestling at a youth age is not working and the big problem is Parents see this happening, they pay big bucks to go to clubs but feel left out...All the studs get special invites, special training, while average to good kids have to pull teeth to get extra. If you want wrestling to be more popular and get more people to attend high school and D1 events and even D2 D3 than start paying attention to the average kids in wrestling make them feel important, help them learn, give them an extra 5 mins..Because elite wrestlers will not keep the sport alive you need the average kids and the average parents to keep it alive because average to good wrestlers is 90 percent of all wrestlers..

Canada started paying attention to all kids in youth Hockey and look what happened Hockey is so huge and the talent level is all time high..

How many average to good wrestlers get invited to the OTC??

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In general, lacrosse is also a lot more fun than wrestling. Let's not lose sight of that fact.

 

Excellent point. I was far more accomplished in wrestling than LAX in high school, but chose to play LAX in college, because it is just plain fun. It's also outdoors, and played in nice weather (late spring to early summer).

 

To me LAX was flat out fun, whereas Wrestling was internal satisfaction, based on accomplishments and work ethic.

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