Pediatric studies show holdbacks are hurt in the long run-- but that is emotionally and mentally. Science proves those kids get dumbed down and underperform. Basically data shows most kids will adjust to their environment. For kids who skip a grade or are younger, they learn to accelerate and fit in. For holdbacks, they learn to do less well to fit in. BUT that is for academics, social adjustments, etc. For sports, they have physical advantages and kick [lacrosse] on younger kids through high school.
in other words, if you're willing to sacrifice your kid's well being in hopes of him playing lacrosse in college, that path is there.
While I generally agree with this, and would not hold my kid back even though he is, in the highly specialized world of lacrosse, a prime candidate, there are those who would cling to the writings of people such as Malcom Gladwell who observed that there is a disproportionate number of professional hockey players with January birthdays. The logic/reason offered is that those players were always at an advantage (ever so slight) by being the oldest in their division. Recall that hockey has a more structured age-based system with the cut off date of Jan 1.
Unless US Lacrosse wrestles back some influence from the clubs, lacrosse will continue to be a sport of holdbacks because that is what works for getting recruited to college College coaches would much rather have an older, more physically mature recruit. Remember, those coaches need to have winning programs or they get fired. And with no financially rewarding professional league, college is the apex of the sport.
Sadly the rise of the NLF, and eventual fall of WSYL (yes, I know NLF clubs participate but they are clearly on a path to create their own 'championship'), USLacrosse.org becomes less and less relevant.
USLacrosse has one card to play and that is the insurance policy which covers all these clubs and players. When Bollinger Insurance decides that having a 24 month age spread on the same field is not a good idea things will change. Until then,
"if you are not playing down, you are playing up"
Your second paragraph represents a common misconception in the holdback/college discussion. Yes, it is true that college coaches want older, more physically mature players. Players that are 20-24, not 18-22. And since there is not a financially rewarding league, they need not worry about the older player leaving early. However, the colleges can still have their older players even if the kids play on age at the youth level. Let the PA, MD, and MA players holdback, enter HS at 15-16, and enter college at 19-20. If this is what the parents want, and what the college coaches want, then so be it. But at the youth level, everyone should be on age. Their is nothing wrong with a 13 year old 7th grader playing against a 13 year old 6th grader, or a 15 year old 9th grader playing against a 15 year old 7th grader.
The misconception is that the entire holdback infrastructure requires the kids to play on grade as youth players. It does not. A public school kid in suburban NY can be born on September 30, 2003 and be in 9th grade. A kid from MD can be born on that same day and be in 7th grade. So what. But they should be competing against each other on the travel circuit. The MD kid should not be playing against kids born in 2005.
Hockey, which uses birth year, has a solution for the exceptional teenagers - the kids who project to be D1/professional. Such kids can, at age 16, leave the youth system (called minor in Canada) and enter junior hockey. At junior hockey, age no longer matters. 16 year olds play against 20 year olds, ect. For those who are a notch down (still very good players) and then some, they can stay in the youth system through 18U. Prior to 16, everyone plays on age.
College D1 hockey relies a lot on older, more mature, prep school and junior players. Similar mindset to lacrosse. Only difference is that the best of the best of the best (think Jack Eichel) might be one and done to the NHL, whereas in lacrosse that doesn't happen because their is no money at the pro level. College hockey, and the prep school/junior system, do just fine with age-based youth play. College lacrosse would do fine also.