Lacrosse is widely considered the fastest growing sport in America. But unlike professional football, basketball and baseball players, professional lacrosse players do not land lucrative contracts to play their sport. In fact, most professional lacrosse players work other jobs to make ends meet.
Lacrosse is a fast-moving team sport played on a field with long sticks topped with baskets. The sticks are used for shooting, carrying, catching and passing the ball. Teams are made up of 10 players, including the goaltender. Professional lacrosse players play between 14 and 18 regular season games per year. They also attend team practices, workout regularly and spend time traveling to away games.
As with many other sports, athletes begin playing lacrosse as early as elementary school, progressing through high school and college. Professional lacrosse players have reached the top level of their sport, getting paid to play in one or both of the professional lacrosse leagues in North America.
While there are technically no education requirements for becoming a professional lacrosse player, many are drafted after playing lacrosse at the collegiate level. To reach the professional level, players must have a deep understanding of the rules of the game and be able to execute various complex plays drawn up by their coaches.
There are a limited number of positions available to professional lacrosse players, with just 20 North American teams in operation. Major League Lacrosse, the professional outdoor league that launched in 1999, is made up of nine U.S. teams: the Boston Cannons, the Chesapeake Bayhawks, the New York Lizards, the Dallas Rattlers, the Denver Outlaws, the Charlotte Hounds, the Ohio Machine, the Florida Launch and the Atlanta Blaze.
Some athletes also play for the National Lacrosse League, an indoor league made up of 11 teams in the U.S. and Canada. The league consists of the Buffalo Bandits, the Georgia Swarm, the New England Black Wolves, the Rochester Knighthawks, the Toronto Rock, the Calgary Roughnecks, the Colorado Mammoth, the Saskatchewan Rush, the Vancouver Stealth, the Philadelphia Wings and the San Diego Seals.
On average, professional lacrosse players make between $10,000 and $25,000 per year, with first-year players earning $7,000 to $9,000 per year. Many athletes have full-time jobs in addition to playing lacrosse or they negotiate endorsement deals with brands to supplement their salaries. Paul Rabil, who plays for the New York Lizards, reportedly earns more than $1 million per year with endorsements and sponsorship deals. But some professional lacrosse players do not get paid at all. Major League Lacrosse, for example, pays 19 players on its active roster, though there may be a total of 21 to 26 total athletes on the team.
Years of Experience
Lacrosse players do not generally get paid higher salaries as they progress in their careers. However, their years of experience playing the sport can help them earn a spot on a professional team in the first place. Additionally, lacrosse is a physically demanding sport that requires athletes to be fit and healthy. Because of that, many players retire after playing professionally for 10 to 15 years.
Job Growth Trend
Lacrosse participation numbers have grown steadily over the last decade. This growth is reflected at the professional level, as both leagues have added teams in recent years and have indicated plans for further expansion. If this trend continues, there could be additional professional lacrosse positions available in the future.
- Wall Street Journal: Lacrosse Doesn't Pay the Rent
- CTV News: True passion for the Game: Toronto Rock Players Pay the Bills With Day Jobs Before Hitting the Lacrosse Box
- CNN Money: The Pro Athletes With Full-Time Day Jobs
- New York Post: Meet Paul Rabil Lacrosse's First $1 Million Man
- US Lacrosse: National Lacrosse Participation Tops 825,000 Players
- The Post and Courier: Major League Lacrosse Looking at Charleston for Expansion
- National Lacrosse League: National Lacrosse League Welcomes Its 11th Franchise
- In Lacrosse We Trust: New NLL Commish Wants to Expand the League to 16 Teams
- Major League Lacrosse: MLL League History
- Quartz: Forget the World Cup. There’s a more exciting international team sport than soccer to watch next summer
- Major League Lacrosse: Chazz Woodson Announces Retirement from MLL
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- Major League Lacrosse: John Grant Jr. Announces Retirement from MLL