In about a month, one of the most exciting sports leagues will return for the 2012 season: the National Lacrosse League.
The NLL is the premier indoor-lacrosse league in the United States. It has nine teams in some major sporting markets across the U.S., including New York, Philadelphia and Colorado.
The NLL has experienced mediocre success throughout its 20-plus-year history. The problem, though, is that the league has never been able to make it into the mainstream sports scene. This includes being mentioned in the same breath as the NFL, MLB or even the MLS.
So how can the NLL move into the mainstream sports scene?
First of all, the NLL needs to add more teams. The NLL has historically had several teams fold or suspend operations when money hasn’t been available; recently, these teams included the New York Titans and the Boston Blazers. The NLL needs to find a way to solidify their current teams while opening up to more major markets for expansion, and a continued expansion into Canada would also help the league as a whole.
Secondly, the NLL needs to secure a continued major television contract. The league recently signed a deal with CBS Sports Network to show a few of their games in prime time.
While this is a move in the right direction, it is not enough.
The NLL needs to get a continued television deal throughout their season on a major network. The NLL has had spot games or partial seasons on networks like Versus, NBC and even ESPN, but the league needs to strive to complete a deal with one of these networks in the future in order to expand their fan base.
Which league has the most upside?
Finally, the league needs to look at releasing a video game. While this may seem like a very minor way to boost the league, it isn’t. Youth lacrosse is expanding every year across the country, and one thing that the majority of these kids also like is video games.
The NLL and the Major League Lacrosse League, need to realize that releasing a video game that is open to the public on all video game systems can only a positive thing, allowing more fans to experience the game and learn what makes indoor lacrosse so entertaining.
I may be in the minority when I say that the NLL will break into the mainstream sports scene sooner rather than later, but I feel like the NLL will be in direct competition with the NHL within the next five years or so.