National lacrosse participation grew 10 percent in 2010 according to the annual participation survey conducted by US Lacrosse, released today. The US Lacrosse report found 624,593 players competed on organized teams in 2010, up 10 percent from the total of 568,021 in 2009. US Lacrosse first tracked overall lacrosse participation in 2001, when 253,931 people played on organized teams.
Whereas Little League baseball has declined on average by one percent each year since 1996, CNN reports. Click here for the rest of the article. Both Little League baseball and lacrosse are played in the spring therefore they are competing for the same players as well as dollars. Additional pressure is coming from within it's own sport as well.
Writer Michael Hilton stated in a recent article that, for the past several years, Youth Travel Team Baseball has experienced an unprecedented surge in popularity with an estimated growth rate of more than 3000% over the past 5-years. This rapid growth rate continues to siphon participation from local Little League®, Dixie Youth®, and local Recreation leagues which were once thought to be the elite programs for talent development. While there will continue to be a market for community-based programs, the quality of competition will continue to decline as more youth continue to shift over to The Select Team format. Community-based baseball programs will need to adjust to changing times or they are destined for continued shrinking enrollment and a decrease in the quality of play. Community-based programs may function more efficiently by initiating a “if you can’t beat’em, join’em” philosophy. A look back at 40-years ago in history at some of the more progressive community-based programs of the time would reveal where current local programs should direct their efforts. Click here for the rest of Michael's article.
In the Sacramento Area there are many travel baseball teams, which start as young as age six, which are also gaining market share. Currently there are two travel baseball teams in development which will service athletes from Auburn to Nevada City. The fastest growing travel baseball organization in the area is Hank's Bombers. Click here for Ryan Hankinson's website for further information.
If Little League baseball plans to stop it's eroding market share it will need to look into the mirror and address the issues of it's customer base or it will be difficult to break the trend.