Everyone knows that football and basketball have cheerleaders, but what about lacrosse? This is one common question asked by people who have yet to experience a lacrosse game for themselves.
Youth, high school and collegiate lacrosse games generally don’t have cheerleaders. Cheerleading is a fall and winter sport whereas lacrosse is a spring sport, so the seasons don’t coincide. In contrast, professional lacrosse leagues, such as the MLL and the NLL, do have cheerleaders at their games.
Although cheerleading hasn’t played a big part in lacrosse games as of yet, it has certainly been a topic of discussion for the coming years, as lacrosse continues to grow in popularity. Read until the end of the article for insight as to the future of cheerleading in lacrosse, along with analysis of whether cheerleading is good or bad for the sport as a whole.
Fact #1: The Majority of Youth, High School, & Collegiate Lacrosse Don’t Have Cheerleaders
Cheerleading has typically accompanied popular sports like football and basketball to the exclusion of all other sports. For you lacrosse fans and players, you may be wondering why they haven’t made the jump to lacrosse. After all, lacrosse is just as much of an action sport as football and basketball, right?
Cheerleading is a Fall & Winter Sport
One of the primary reasons that lacrosse lacks cheerleaders is that the lacrosse season and the cheerleading season do not overlap one another. Lacrosse games are held during the spring, from early March to late May. Cheerleading tryouts do not even start until the middle of April (source).
The bulk of all of the cheerleading activities occur during the fall and winter months, the times when lacrosse is well into the off-season. Since cheerleading corresponds directly with football and basketball, it’s rather convenient to schedule events that accompany their games.
Unfortunately, lacrosse will likely always be a spring sport. In order to get cheerleaders to lacrosse games, the cheerleading season would have to extend year around. Although this is doable, it would be a tough thing to ask of the cheerleaders considering they have such a brief break as it is. Cheerleading teams that already compete year around may be up for the task, but most other teams will respectfully decline.
Lacrosse is Still a Growing Sport
Furthermore, lacrosse has yet to attract an audience like football and basketball. In most areas, lacrosse hasn’t reached mainstream status yet. Participation is steadily increasing year after year, but this has still not been enough to attract casual sports fans who have no association with lacrosse.
In order to gain a considerable audience, lacrosse will have to broaden its horizons by attracting fans that have never touched a lacrosse stick in their lives. An audience that’s exclusively made up of friends and family is good, but not good enough for the likes of cheerleaders.
This is a major reason why cheerleaders choose to perform football and basketball games over lacrosse. At these games, all sorts of people attend. From friends and family to faculty and students, everyone goes for support.
At some schools, lacrosse may possess this magnetism about it, but this is far from the norm. In order for cheerleading to become a common occurrence at lacrosse games, lacrosse will have to grab the spotlight for the spring season and appeal to a larger following.
During my youth and high school playing days, I know for a fact that our lacrosse team didn’t have cheerleaders at the games. Although lacrosse has made great strides in popularity since that time, there’s still a long road to go until lacrosse reaches mainstream audiences.
Fact #2: Major League Lacrosse Has Cheerleaders
Although cheerleaders are lacking at most lacrosse levels, professional field lacrosse has experimented with the idea of cheerleaders at lacrosse games.
Major League Lacrosse (MLL) has been one of the first professional lacrosse organizations to do this. The MLL is still an up and coming league, so they’re willing to integrate new, bold ideas to make the sport more fan friendly. Each lacrosse team in the league has a specific cheerleading team dedicated exclusively to them.
This experimental idea seems to be working, as the MLL continues to have cheerleaders at each and every game. It’s hard to quantify exactly how much more fan friendly these cheerleaders make the game, but it certainly seems like it’s made a difference.
Fact #3: The National Lacrosse League Has Cheerleaders
In addition, professional box lacrosse, the indoor version of the sport, has taken after the idea of having team cheerleading squads. Similar to the MLL, the National Lacrosse League (NLL) is still doing their best to gain viewership.
In an attempt to better reach the general public, they’ve implemented this strategy to make the games more exciting during breaks in the action. Having cheerleaders perform during time-outs and intermissions between quarters keeps the experience lively. This way, the audience always has something drawing their attention, even when the players are taking a breather.
To see the NLL cheerleaders in action for yourself, here’s a clip of the Washington Stealth cheerleading squad getting the home crowd hyped!
As you can see, cheerleading can work with lacrosse under the right circumstances. At the professional level, the mix of lacrosse and cheerleading seems to be working rather well, as they provide an extra spark of energy to the crowd where otherwise there would be none.
Will High School and Collegiate Lacrosse Transition to Having Cheerleaders?
With professional lacrosse leagues integrating cheerleading into their games, people have started to wonder whether the other levels of lacrosse will follow suit.
Up until this point, it doesn’t seem like the narrative will change anytime soon. Since we’re dealing with school cheerleading teams rather than professional cheerleaders, it’s more challenging to work out events given that most cheerleaders are in the middle of the off-season.
In order for an agreement to be reached, the cheerleading team would have to commit to a year round schedule. Unfortunately, the benefit just doesn’t seem to be there for cheerleaders as of now. Until lacrosse is able to gather a consistently massive following game after game, cheerleading teams likely won’t even entertain the idea.
The best way that lacrosse could slowly attract cheerleading squads is by steadily growing the fanbase. Unfortunately, it will likely be years before lacrosse ever makes it onto the main stage.
Would Having Cheerleaders Be Better for the Sport?
With all this talk of cheerleaders, certain lacrosse fans have brought up the topic of whether or not cheerleading is even beneficial to the sport of lacrosse. To get both ends of the argument, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of having cheerleaders at lacrosse games.
The foremost benefit of bringing cheerleaders into the fold is that it keeps the energy of lacrosse games high. Ultimately, lacrosse fans go to games to be entertained. During the lulls in the lacrosse game where no action is happening, cheerleaders can keep the momentum rolling. That’s something that lacrosse players simply cannot do on their own.
Plus, lacrosse players feed off of the energy present in the game. With cheerleaders present to keep the energy up, they grant players the boost that they need to push through the exhaustion and keep fighting until the end. This advantage is priceless and it makes lacrosse games that much more fun to watch.
Lastly, lacrosse cheerleaders would help to spread positivity in the cheerleading community as well. Many young girls look up to cheerleaders as role models. By having cheerleaders at lacrosse games giving off positive vibes no matter the outlook of the game, these young girls can take that message home and apply it to everyday circumstances. Ultimately, both cheerleading and lacrosse benefit from this positive impact.
As far as potential drawbacks, some lacrosse players have concerns that cheerleading teams would disrupt the flow of the games with their performances. Although cheerleaders are present primarily to provide support, their performances may actually detract from the game if they repeatedly interrupt the game.
It makes sense for cheerleaders to be at football games because there’s a break in the action every play. With lacrosse, there’s rarely ever any break in the action since the ball is continually flying up and down the field. Trying to cram in cheerleading sessions into lacrosse will just take away from the game itself.
Lastly, cheerleaders are also at risk for injury depending on where they position themselves on the field. Sometimes, cheerleaders unknowingly position themselves in dangerous spots behind the lacrosse goals. In these spots, all it takes is one stray shot to do some serious damage.
Ask professional lacrosse Mikey Powell. One of his loose shots tagged a cheerleader that was at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
All things considered, I personally believe that cheerleaders would fit into lacrosse well. But then again, that’s just my own opinion.
The Bottom Line
Lacrosse doesn’t have cheerleaders save for professional leagues, nor does it look like it will have cheerleaders in the near future. Until lacrosse is able to gain widespread popularity, it seems as though this trend will continue for the coming years.