What is the history of Lacrosse? What are its origins? Where did Lacrosse come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Lacrosse.
What Are the Basic Rules of Lacrosse?
Lacrosse is a team sport in which the object of the game is to outscore the opponent by successfully throwing the ball past the goalie (using a specially designed lacrosse stick with webbing to secure the ball) and into the opponent’s net. Most lacrosse games are played for 60 minutes, with the time being divided evenly into four 15-minute quarters. Games are played in a rectangular field that measures 110 yards long and anywhere from 53-60 yards wide.
Each team is required to have ten players on the field at any given time. Generally speaking, one of these players is the goalie while the others are labeled defenders, attackers or midfielders depending on each player’s individual skill set and tendencies.
Only the goalie is allowed to make hand contact with the ball. All other players must catch, throw and run with the ball using their sticks. Other common lacrosse violations include goalie interference (hitting the goalie’s stick or intentionally interfering with the goalie’s sight line in order to score), offsides (having too many players on the offensive half of the field) and illegally body checking a defenseless opponent.
Which Country Started Lacrosse?
Lacrosse (commonly referred to as ‘stickball’ at the time) originates from Canada. More specifically, the sport hails from the St. Lawrence Valley area, which forms the border between the province of Quebec and several northeastern U.S. states. While lacrosse was technically started in Canada, it quickly expanded to the western Great Lakes portion of the United States, where modern rule adaptations and gameplay were eventually developed.
Who Invented Lacrosse?
There is no single individual that is credited with the invention of lacrosse. Instead, a Native American variation of the sport was first introduced by members of the Algonquian tribe that occupied much of southeastern Canada at the time. Games were generally unorganized, with loose rules and hundreds of men from surrounding villages congregating to play each day.
There are, however, several individuals who added certain elements to lacrosse and documented it for the surrounding world. For example, French colonist Jean de Brebeuf gave lacrosse its official name, while explorer James Smith wrote about his fascination with the sticks, balls and hoops that were constructed to play each game.
When Was Lacrosse Established?
Although it is likely that Native American villagers had been playing some version of lacrosse for much of the 17th century, the sport was not officially documented until de Brebeuf did so in 1636. Modern elements of lacrosse were established over 200 years later when Williams Beers caught wind of the sport and founded the Montreal Lacrosse Club, along with a standard set of rules, many of which still prevail today.
When Did Lacrosse Become Popular?
Lacrosse started to become popular towards the end of the 19th century, at which point modern adaptations (i. e. timed games, 10 player per team limit) had been formed and several countries began to adopt the sport. The sport continued to see an increase in popularity leading up to 1904, when lacrosse made its debut as a Summer Olympic sport, although it was a brief appearance and the sport has yet to become a consistently featured Olympic event.
Most Popular Countries That Play Lacrosse
Listed below are the countries that play lacrosse the most. The five countries in which lacrosse is most popular are ranked in order, with the average number of participants and events taken into account. It is worth noting that while lacrosse is currently played in several nations worldwide and still expanding into new areas of the globe, it is still most popular in Canada and the United States by a wide margin.
- United States
Lacrosse History Key Facts and Timeline
The following timeline provides a concise overview of the key facts and events in the known history of lacrosse to date.
- 1636: lacrosse is first documented in North America
- 1867: Montreal Lacrosse Club is founded, first official set of playing rules is institutionalized
- 1876: first collegiate lacrosse team established at New York University
- 1890: women’s lacrosse game takes place for the first time
- 1904: lacrosse is demoed at the summer Olympic Games
- 1937: early version of the modern lacrosse makes first in-game appearance
- 1947: positions introduced to better suit different types of players
- 1978: first edition of Lacrosse Magazine to recap recent news and events within the sport
- 1997: US Lacrosse is founded as the official governing body for all lacrosse events conducted on U.S. soil
- 2001: Major League Lacrosse (MLL) debuts as premier U.S. professional lacrosse league
- 2002: inaugural International Lacrosse Federation World Championship tournament is held in Australia
The History Of Lacrosse – Greensboro Sports
A 3,000-Year-Old Game: The History Of Lacrosse
Lacrosse has its beginnings as far back as one thousand years BCE, emerging from a Native American game, and developing into the modern sport we all know.
from Sarah Peterson
The 3,000 Year History Behind The Sport Of Lacrosse
Today, lacrosse is widely known across the USA and Canada. It’s a fast-paced game that involves a combination of speed and stamina, combining teamwork and individual skill. But what’s less widely known is how the sport began. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of lacrosse and some of the changes, developments and reinventions it has seen over the years.
Ancient origins in North America
Lacrosse is understood to have originated from various similar sports played within indigenous North American societies, as long ago as 1,000 BCE. Multiple sources cite names such as the Mohawk “begadwe,” Oee “dehuntshigwa’es” and Choctaw “kabucha” as being associated with games similar to lacrosse, which were often used to train young men in battle tactics.
These types of games were most prevalent among people living around the Great Lakes, what is now the Southern USA, as well as the East Coast region. Traditionally, games would be played between large groups of men numbering in the hundreds or even thousands who would represent opposing tribes or settlements.
Original rules of the game
Each game could last for a whole day, from sunrise until sunset, and the playing field was often the open ground between each team’s settlement, sometimes several miles apart. Goals would be created from landmarks such as rock formations or tree trunks, and the aim was for participants to carry the ball to the opponent’s goal without being tackled.
Contact with European settlers
The earliest witnesses to such games from Europe were early missionaries from France, one of whom, Jean de Brebeuf, gave the first written account of the game in which he also gave it its modern name. He called it “la crosse” in French (or “the cross” in English), from which we get the current term “lacrosse.”
These early missionaries were not particularly supportive of the game, being opposed to the gambling which went alongside it, and generally suspicious and misunderstanding of the culture they had encountered. However, as other European settlers arrived in North America and learned of lacrosse, many were intrigued. By the mid-1700s, games between the indigenous players and the settlers became more commonplace.
Writers from the 1750s described the type of lacrosse stick used at the time as being around 5 feet in length, with a hoop-shaped net on the top, and the lacrosse ball as a wooden ball about 3 inches in diameter.
The beginnings of the modern rules of lacrosse
By the 1830s, demonstrations of the game were being given in Canada, such as the one which was held in Montreal in 1834 by members of the Caughnawaga tribe, resulting in greater public interest in the sport.
In the mid-1850s, a dentist from Montreal by the name of William Beers founded a lacrosse club in the city and worked on developing a set of written rules for the game. Among them were shorter time limits on each game, restrictions on the number of players on each team, and new designs for the lacrosse stick, as well as the replacement of the traditional wooden ball with one manufactured from rubber.
Growth in popularity as a sport
During the next decade, lacrosse would develop to become first a popular game in Canada and eventually the national sport, with players exhibiting their skills abroad, including once during an audience with the English Queen Victoria, who reportedly enjoyed the experience immensely. Her patronage led many girl’s schools in the UK to adopt the game, and this popularity continued into the 20th century.
In the United States and Canada, the sport remained popular with male clubs, as well as colleges and schools. However, it began to attract criticism for what some people saw as violent elements involved in the play. It was first recognized as an official Olympic sport during the 1904 and subsequently, the 1908 Olympic Games, although it had lost that status by the time of the Games in 1912.
Lacrosse in the 20th century and onwards
The twentieth century saw a number of new developments to the sport, including further codification of the rules, the introduction of protective equipment and the use of new materials in the manufacturing of lacrosse sticks and balls.
In the 1930s, “box lacrosse,” an indoor version of the game was developed in Canada in response to the limitations placed on outdoor games by poor weather conditions.
It wasn’t until 1987, however, that the first professional box lacrosse league was founded, and this was followed in 2001 by the first professional league for field lacrosse teams. In 2019, due to pressure from players for better wages and conditions, the Premier Lacrosse League was founded, which represents the highest competitive standard in the sport to this day.
So as we enjoy today’s modern game, with lightweight, protective gear, carbon fiber lacrosse sticks, practice equipment such as the lacrosse rebounder or the artificial grass surfaces and floodlit fields available to many high school, college, and professional players, it’s interesting to take a look back at the distant traditions on which the sport was built. As a modern lacrosse player, it can be a point of pride to be involved in a game that may be one of the oldest anywhere in the world.
‘It’s more than a game to us.’
Lyle Thompson, the 28-year-old lacrosse star some consider one of the greatest to play the game, has a request. Look beyond his blistering goals, behind-the-head passes, NCAA records, and Nike sponsorship. Forget about his three lacrosse-loving brothers who, like him, all play professionally. Instead, dig a little deeper. Think about the meaning of the two-foot braid that drapes down his back, a show of pride in his heritage. Then, Thompson insists, you might begin to understand the origins of his blood-boiling frustration.
“The story that’s always told is about winning,” Thompson says. “But I don’t want to be the most marketable player in lacrosse or in the Hall of Fame. I want to honor the game. I want people to understand there is value in the medicine game. This is our gift to the world. And a vehicle to help people understand who we are.”
The “we” Thompson refers to is the Iroquois, also known as the Haudenosaunee, the six nations that cross the U. S.-Canadian border in the northeast corner of North America. It is here, as far back as 1,000 years ago, where many believe Native Americans first invented lacrosse. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men gathered on boundary-less fields in pursuit of goals stretched miles apart.
For the Iroquois, the game carries a cultural and spiritual importance unlike any other. They believe lacrosse, originally played between land and winged animals long before there was human life on Earth, was gifted to them from the Creator.
Thompson, the son of an iron worker who played box (indoor) lacrosse and the youngest of four brothers, is a member of the Onondaga Nation, a 7,300-acre territory just south of Syracuse, New York. Like other Haudenosaunee nations, the Onondaga operate outside the jurisdiction of New York state as a sovereign, independent nation with its own laws, language, customs, and culture. Lacrosse is at the heart of that culture, a game the Iroquois play not only to entertain the Creator but to assert their sovereignty and independence to the world.
“It’s more than a game to us,” says Rex Lyons, a former lacrosse player and the son of 90-year-old Onondaga faith keeper Oren Lyons. “It’s an identity.”
Today, the relationship between the Iroquois and the sport that means so much to them is as complicated as ever. Lacrosse is still riding the wave of a massive popularity boom in the early 2000s, with more than 830,000 Americans now participating in the game, a 227-percent increase, according to the 2018 U.S. Lacrosse participation report. There are five professional leagues in the U.S., including Major League Lacrosse, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary. The game also continues to grow internationally, with more than 66 national teams recognized by World Lacrosse, the sport’s governing body.
The sport’s leaders want to capitalize on its growth and return lacrosse to the Olympics when the Summer Games come to Los Angeles in 2028. But a troubling question looms for the game’s originators: Will Olympic sport status mean leaving the Iroquois behind?
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Left: The Iroquois Nationals prefer to travel using the Haudenosaunee passport, displayed here by a team member in 2010, even though many countries don’t recognize it as an official travel document.
Right: Bret Bucktooth talks to his Iroquois National teammates at practice at Wagner College in Staten Island as they wait for their visas to travel to Manchester, England for the World Lacrosse Championships in 2010. The team was ultimately unable to compete because the UK refused to accept their travel documents without a U.S. or Canadian passport.
Photograph by Ramin Talaie, Corbis via Getty Images
The medicine game
Among the Iroquois, when a young child receives his given native name, the community’s chief, or faith keeper, holds the child to the sky and blesses the child with the hope they will grow up to be one of three things: a singer and dancer of the native songs, a speaker of the native language, or a lacrosse player.
Elders place miniature wooden lacrosse sticks in newborns’ cribs. And when someone’s life comes to an end, sticks are placed in the coffin. The game anticipates life and awaits players in the spirit world.
“That stick represents everything from the earth that grows,” Lyons said. “The netting is representative of the deer, the leader of animals from all five continents. The weave in the netting, the connecting of all those hoops, that’s the clans, the families all connected together. And the ball, of course, is the medicine.”
The four Thompson brothers and their sister grew up in a modest home built by their father Jerome. For much of their childhood they had no electricity or running water. The four boys, Jerome Jr., Jeremy, Miles, and Lyle, all slept in the same bedroom, often with their sticks by their side. Upon returning home from school the first thing they would do is grab their sticks and head into the yard. They’d shoot into a small box their dad had built, with a hole just big enough to fit a lacrosse ball.
“That stick was my best friend,” Lyle says. “It was my everything. I slept with it every single night.”
While Jeremy played at Syracuse and Jerome attended Onondaga Community College, Lyle and Miles starred together at the University of Albany. In 2014 they not only became the first Native Americans to win the Mohawk-named Tewaaraton Award, lacrosse’s version of the Heisman, but were the first to tie for the honor. Lyle went on to win the award again in 2015 after Miles graduated, finishing his career with an NCAA record 400 points.
But the Thompsons believe the game has a spiritual impact far greater than records or awards. The game contains medicine, the Iroquois say. Even today, medicine games are called whenever someone in the community is in need. Poles are jammed into the ground on opposite ends of a field and men and boys of all ages compete to score a predetermined number of goals. Afterwards, the deerskin ball is given to that individual in need.
“It’s about the feeling and the importance of why we are there—to perform for the Creator or someone who needs it and is ill,” says Jeremy.
In 1983, the Iroquois sought to share that energy and use the sport as a vehicle to continue their fight for sovereignty and independence from their Canadian and U.S. neighbors. They successfully petitioned what was then the Federation of International Lacrosse to recognize the Iroquois as a national lacrosse team.
Today, Thompson and the Iroquois are rock stars in any tournament in which they compete, drawing fans from around the globe as the only Native American team that competes internationally as a sovereign people. The FIL, which has since become World Lacrosse, is the lone international sports federation recognizing a group of independent people as its own federation.
Despite drawing from a population of just 125,000 people, the Iroquois are widely regarded among the most successful lacrosse national teams in the world, along with the United States (population 328 million) and Canada (population 33 million). The Iroquois men finished third in the last two field lacrosse world championships and second in all five world box lacrosse championships. The Iroquois women’s team finished seventh in 2007.
The Thompson Brothers have their own line of Nike apparel, including hoodies, caps, backpacks, and lacrosse cleats. And at the heart of the Onondaga social life is its 1,900-seat, 40,000-square foot state-of-the-art Onondaga Nation Arena, which doubles as an indoor facility for both hockey and lacrosse. In 2015, the arena helped host the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships.
“There is no other sport like this in the world, with an origin story of a game shared with the world by an indigenous group, and that group not only still competes today but does so as one of the very best teams out there,” said Steve Stenersen, the CEO of USA Lacrosse and a Vice President for World Lacrosse. “What they have done is beyond remarkable.”
The Iroquois believe lacrosse contains medicine and organize games whenever someone in the community is in need. Afterwards the deerskin ball is given to that person. Here, lacrosse balls rest in the net during an Iroquois Nationals practice session in 2010.
Photograph by Ramin Talaie, Corbis via Getty Images
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The fight for inclusion
This summer, fresh off a match with his professional club, the Chesapeake Bayhawks, Lyle Thompson learned on Twitter that the World Games, a quadrennial sports festival held as a showcase for non-Olympic sports, had announced the eight-team field for its inaugural men’s lacrosse championships in 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama. The list did not include the Iroquois Nationals.
“It’s not like I was surprised,” Thompson said. “But that doesn’t mean it didn’t make my blood boil.”
The uniqueness of the Iroquois sovereignty has created issues over the years with the team’s ability to travel internationally. They insist on traveling solely on their Haudenosaunee passport, which many countries don’t recognize as a travel document because it doesn’t meet post-9/11 security requirements. With the 2022 World Games in the United States, there didn’t appear to be any road blocks to the Iroquois’ inclusion. Until there were. (Meet the survivors of an Indigenous ‘paper genocide.’)
“It’s so disheartening. You just wonder ‘how is this still happening?” Thompson said. “Why can’t people understand what’s going on and make the right decisions?’”
One of Thompson’s Iroquois Nationals teammates, Randy Staats, was in the Major League Lacrosse bubble in Annapolis, Maryland with Canadian stars Mark Matthews and Shayne Jackson when he got the news.
“They both just looked me and were like ‘are you kidding me?” Staats said. “That’s complete bulls—.’ We honestly thought it was some sort of mistake.”
It wasn’t a mistake. The World Games eligibility criteria mirrors that of the International Olympic Committee, and because the Iroquois are not one of the 206 IOC-recognized National Olympic Committees, the World Games omitted them.
Thompson, Staats, and others vented their frustration on social media, and the lacrosse community rallied in support. More than 50,000 people signed a petition on change. org to include the Iroquois in the World Games field. Staats wrote an article for an online lacrosse publication that read in part: “We deserve the legitimacy as a nation that our passports, culture, and history provide. We shouldn’t have to fight to be treated as equals, it simply should be.”
“Before this I’d never stuck my neck out like that or done uncomfortable things,” Staats said. “But this was about right vs. wrong. It’s about who we are as people.”
The controversy was reminiscent of 2010, when the Iroquois were unable to compete at the World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester, England because neither the U.S. nor the UK would honor the Haudenosaunee passport. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton secured single-use waivers that allowed the team to travel, but the UK refused to accept the waivers unless accompanied by a U.S. or Canadian passport.
“We don’t identify with being Canadian citizens. We don’t identify with being American citizens,” Lyle Thompson said. “We want to be recognized for who we are. You look at these other countries that are able to participate in these events, they get to honor their country and be recognized for who they are and where they are from. That’s what I want—without this continuous fight.”
The World Games battle carried even greater importance than the Manchester situation. Lacrosse hasn’t been in the Olympics as a medal sport since 1908, and in 2018 the International Olympic Committee took the first steps to allow lacrosse to potentially return by awarding it provisional recognition. The Iroquois knew that if they weren’t allowed to compete in the World Games, their Olympic dreams—and the increased respect and visibility they hoped would come along—were dead.
“The game has changed the way we view the world and how the world views us,” says Leo Nolan, the Nationals executive director. “It’s helped people recognize who we are. You want that to continue.”
Added Thompson: “You want to inspire someone from Team USA or Canada so that when they become the people in the big offices, they will understand our story and they will make decisions based on what they know about us as people, and what is right. ”
The Iroquois clearly have had that sort of impact on Ireland, the ninth-ranked team in the world. The Irish knew they were only in the eight-team field because of the Iroquois’ exclusion. Ireland Lacrosse polled its coaches, players, alumni, and other stakeholders asking if they were aware of the Iroquois controversy and had strong feelings one way or another about what the Irish should do.
“And overwhelmingly the response was to right what we perceived as a wrong,” said Catherine Conway of Ireland Lacrosse. “And not just through some statement on social media that gives you clout, but to actually do something.”
In September, the Irish informed the World Games they were withdrawing from the competition with the expectation that the Iroquois would take their place. The World Games asked the Iroquois to obtain letters from the U.S. and Canadian lacrosse federations as well as the U.S. and Canadian Olympic Committees that there was no objection to the Iroquois’ inclusion. Five days later, the World Games announced a new field of eight teams, this time with the Iroquois Nationals.
Upon hearing the news, Rex Lyons printed out the World Games statement and handed it to his father, the 90-year-old Onondaga faith keeper. Oren Lyons had originally proposed starting a national lacrosse team almost forty years earlier. He’s lived the struggle for respect. Oren slowly read the page his son handed him and responded with one word: “Amazing.”
“It was simply the right thing to do,” Rex said. “But it floored me. Those principles are difficult to come by anymore. My dad was at a loss for words.”
“This is a sport unique to North America. The World Games are in North America. And this group holds a special place in the game,” World Lacrosse CEO Jim Scherr said. “I think the World Games realized it merited some additional consideration to try and find a solution. And we are glad that they did.”
But now comes the biggest fight of all. Lacrosse will do everything it can to return to the Olympic stage, and the Iroquois Nationals worry at what expense. The Iroquois insist they are working on creating a National Olympic Committee, but the IOC only recognizes a country’s National Olympic Committee if that country is recognized by more than half of the United Nations. The Haudenosaunee are not currently recognized. (Here’s how mapmakers are helping indigenous people defend their lands.)
Thompson fears World Lacrosse might view the Iroquois as a detriment to its Olympic argument, something the IOC just won’t want to deal with. Allowing the Iroquois to compete could open the door for other marginalized groups to demand Olympic inclusion.
“You hope decisions would be made on what is morally right, not just what is good for World Lacrosse,” Thompson says. “My concern is that what they think is good for them is to do whatever it takes to get lacrosse in the Olympics, even if it means not including the Iroquois Nationals.”
Scherr insists that isn’t the case. Step one is just getting into the Olympics. From there, he admits the Iroquois case is complicated, saying, “It requires people to be educated. And it isn’t a ten-minute conversation.” But he and Stenersen both refute the suggestion that World Lacrosse doesn’t want the Iroquois in the Olympics, should lacrosse get there.
“From an emotional standpoint, it doesn’t seem all that complicated,” Stenersen said. “If there’s a tournament and they’ve qualified, they should be there. If they can’t, it feels like nobody should be there. That’s how important they are to this game.”
“But right or wrong, the world has evolved in a certain way,” he added. “It creates complex challenges. We want to do everything we can to get lacrosse into the Olympics and then make the best argument we can for the Nationals inclusion in the Games. We want them there.” (This is the Olympics’ turbulent history in times of global crisis.)
The Iroquois know their story is unlike any other in sports. They know they are the biggest draw in any tournament they enter. They have the Thompson brothers, led by Lyle, the No. 1 player in the world. They have their own flag and national anthem. They represent a real-life connection to the game’s historical and spiritual roots. And they are optimistic that the social justice and equality movement sweeping the U.S. in 2020 will only help their case for inclusion.
Lyle Thompson wears a long braid down his back as a show of pride in his heritage. He and his three older brothers grew up playing lacrosse, which they believe was gifted to them by the Creator.
Photograph by Kevin Liles, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
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Is it enough? For now, Thompson prepares for another fight. He has four daughters and a son. Seventeen nieces and nephews. He wants this for them.
“We have to get ready to make another stand,” Thompson says. “We have to get ready to fight for our sovereignty in front of the Olympic committee.”
It is a fight that means far more than the ability to compete on sport’s grandest stage. In the Iroquois’ eyes, it’s about equality, inclusion, respect, and the expansion of what it means to be a nation in the Olympic and sporting world. The outpouring of support this summer shows that at a grassroots level the lacrosse community has the Iroquois’ back. But now they want that respect from the world. They want to maintain the strongest of their roots to the past, while asserting their place in the future.
“We have our land. It’s treaty defined. It’s not a reservation,” Lyons said. “We have our own laws, chiefs, and leaders. So it’s important in the Olympics to carry our own flag. Not just for the Haudenosaunee, but for other indigenous people. We want to be recognized as who we are and who we have always been. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.”
Wayne Drehs is a senior writer at ESPN. ESPN and National Geographic are both owned by The Walt Disney Company.
‘The Creator’s Game’ moving from Native American favorite to prime time
In honor of Native American Heritage Month, GlobalSport Matters will showcase the Native American athletic experience.
Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the United States according to a US Lacrosse Survey. Since 2001, lacrosse has added more than half a million participants from youth to the professional level.
In October, a new league called the Premier Lacrosse League was announced. It has a television contract with NBC Sports.
The increasing annual participation in both men’s and women’s lacrosse is a product of the game spreading away from its epicenter, the St. Lawrence Valley and New England. But that growth has been a long time coming for the oldest sport in North America.
When French missionaries arrived in the New World in 1637, they glimpsed for the first time a game that Native American tribes had played long before Europeans arrived. Carrying long wooden sticks with hide-string pockets, two sides fought over a ball that they tried to score by throwing it in the opposite team’s goal. The missionaries named it ‘la crosier’ due to the resemblance the shape of the wooden sticks had to Catholic bishop’s cross.
On a field up to two miles long, the spectacle appeared more like the onset of a war between the two tribes instead of a sporting contest.
According to Onondaga stick maker Alfred Jacques, who has been making the Iroquois sticks for 50 years, what they were witnessing that day was something completely different.
“When the Europeans came and saw this whole group of men coming toward this whole group of men, they thought it was going to be a battle,” explained Jacques to Reporter’s Magazine at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “They were playing a game instead.”
On Native American reservations in New York, such as the Six Nations, or Iroquois Confederacy, the game of lacrosse is everywhere. But you will not hear them call it that.
To them, it’s called the “Creator’s Game.” And it is more than just a game.
Melee between Canadians and Iroquois Indians, the game of Lacrosse, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, illustration from the magazine The Graphic, volume XIII, no 340, June 3, 1876. (Courtesy Getty Images)
“When you talk about the lifeblood of the Six Nations… the game is ingrained in our culture, and our systems, and our lives,” said Oren Lyons, a former Syracuse University lacrosse star and faith keeper for the Onondaga tribe. “There are two times of the year that stir the blood… In the fall for the hunt, and now (spring) for the lacrosse.”
For Native American tribes such as the Haudenosaunee, playing lacrosse is considered medicinal. By playing the ‘Creator’s Game,’ they give thanks and praise to the gods and commence in celebration with the rest of the tribe.
The young men who participate in lacrosse also understand the cultural importance of wielding the wooden lacrosse sticks made by Jacques. When they take the field, regardless of the venue or location, the Haudenosaunee compete with that honor and integrity.
When a tribe member passes away, his lacrosse stick is buried with him. They do this so when he wakes up in the afterlife, he can take his stick from the coffin and begin playing again with their Creator.
For the living, ceremonies take place at the beginning of spring every year. The community comes together in a ceremonial contest. Sometimes pitting the old and wise vs. the young and reckless, the annual spring game brings the community together like no other event.
While historically traditional lacrosse games were played on vast open fields, the most common form of lacrosse being played by Native tribes is box lacrosse.
Box lacrosse is played between two teams of six players and usually takes place in an ice hockey rink once the ice is removed. It is the primary form of lacrosse played in Canada, and it was named Canada’s national spring sport in 1994.
The game requires a heightened lacrosse IQ and stick skills. The goals are much smaller. The goalies wear more pads, and, because the playing area is more confined, the margins for error are slimmer. To watch the Six Nations play box lacrosse is to see the degree the stick is an extension of their bodies.
Many of the tribes have their own teams, and those selected consider playing the ‘Creator’s Game’ while representing their people to be one of the biggest honors they can aspire to.
The Onondaga Redhawks are one of the premier professional box lacrosse clubs on the reservation, having won five of the last seven Can-Am Senior B Lacrosse League titles. While winning titles will not earn players riches and fame, the honor and humility that comes from playing is therapeutic.
“Every time you put on that jersey, and you have the Onondaga symbol on your chest there’s a great deal of pride that goes into that,” said Brett Bucktooth, a member of the Iroquois National Team and Onondaga Redhawks. “I think the [Onondaga] continually produces great lacrosse players because it’s such an integral part of our lives.”
Because lacrosse is played for the enjoyment of their Creator, participants are reminded of the reason for playing before the start of every game. According to the Iroquois Nationals ‘Story of Lacrosse,’ “Lacrosse should not be played for money, fame or personal gain; you should be humble and of a good mind when you take your lacrosse stick in your hand.”
Sid Smith, 23, with Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team fixes his stick during a practice session in 2010. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images)
The commercialization of lacrosse is something not all tribes within the Six Nations agree on. For many, lacrosse serves a higher purpose than functioning as merely a game. Conflict resolution, right of passage and community building have formed the heart of Native culture, and many of these lessons are taught through playing this game.
While professional leagues such as the National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse offer salaries, which goes against the game’s cultural origins, respecting the game by playing it well and with intensity out of honor has led to the spread of the game and Native American culture.
“It’s their game. It’s the Creator’s game,” said Steve Beville, the coach of the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons who coached the Iroquois Nationals in the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships held in Denver, Colo. “That’s always something that’s prevalent in your mind and their mind when you’re playing with and against them.”
Beville has been the coach of the highly successful Cortland lacrosse program for 13 years, and he possesses more than 300 wins in his collegiate coaching career. He was inducted into the US Lacrosse Upstate New York Hall of Fame in 2010.
A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Beville grew up playing against Native Americans such as the Iroquois. Even at a young age, Beville could tell the Iroquois possessed a different feel for the game that only came with the bond indigenous people feel for the Creator’s Game.
“It’s their timing and their instincts. They have an incredible sense of when to cut off the ball, sense of timing of when to go to the cage, pass it, tuck your stick and protect your stick,” Beville said. “They’re so instinctual and amazing that sometimes you’re coaching them and I’ll have to grab myself and say, ‘Get back to coaching and stop watching.”
While the Iroquois Nationals have a storied history, they also are dedicated to contributing to its future. Among the game’s current stars are Lyle and Miles Thompson, who shined at the University of Albany. In their senior seasons, both broke the NCAA lacrosse single-season points record.
They were named co-winners of NCAA College Lacrosse’s most valuable player award, which is named the Tewaaraton Trophy, after the Mohawk tribe’s name for the game.
While lacrosse will always be a staple of East Coast and private high schools, western states such as Arizona and California are among the states with the fastest growing participation and team growth rates. The game’s movement westward has also led to new NCAA Division 1 programs. The University of Denver has one of the best lacrosse programs in the country, while the University of Utah just added men’s lacrosse as a sanctioned sport.
However no matter how far the game ventures away from the St. Lawrence valley, the history and origins of the Creator’s Game will always reside with the Haudenosaunee.
Ross Andrews is a senior journalism student at Arizona State University
History of the Sport From the Indoor (Box) Perspective
Once settlers began to establish themselves in Canada, they took a great liking to Lacrosse and it wasn’t long before almost every small community in Canada boasted of a Lacrosse team. During that time, rules were established for the number of players on each side and the playing area to be covered.
The origin of the sport can also be traced to Jean de Brebeuf through recorded observations of a Lacrosse game in 1683 in what is now Southern Ontario, Canada. The legacy of the original North Americans to the European settlers, Lacrosse remains one of the few aspects of Native culture which has survived and prospered under the settlers’ tutelage. Pre-dating recorded history, the sport has roots which are long and deep in North American society in general and the life and culture of the Natives of Ontario and Quebec. To the early French settlers, the stick reminded them somewhat of a Bishop’s crozier or staff. The French word for crozier is “crosse” and soon they started calling the game “La Crosse”, which is the name everyone is familiar with now.
Lacrosse, because of its unique history, exists as a link between the disparate components of Canadian, American, First Nations and European Settler history. It remains the rare occurrence in which an element of native culture was accepted and embraced by Canadian society. The European concepts of structure and rules were added to the religious and social rituals of the first North Americans, and together produced one of the first symbols of the new Canada, Lacrosse.
It was in the early 1800s that the Montreal townspeople became interested in this activity of the Mohawk tribes. In the 1840s the first games of Lacrosse were played between the townsfolk and the Natives. The action and skill of the game soon won the hearts of the locals, and though it was many years before any significant wins were logged against the Natives, the game of Lacrosse was quickly winning the loyalty and interest of the newest North Americans.
By the late 1850s and early 1860s Lacrosse had its foothold in the sporting society of the time and the first non-native Lacrosse clubs were being formed. This quickly led to the formation of inter-city rivalries and challenges, and the competitive base of the sport of Lacrosse was born.
Across the northern border, Lacrosse was named Canada’s National Game by Parliament in 1859. In 1867 the Montreal Lacrosse Club, headed by Dr. George Beers, organized a conference in Kingston in order to create a national body whose purpose would be to govern the sport throughout the newly formed country. The National Lacrosse Association became the first Canadian national sport governing body in North America dedicated to the governance of a sport, the standardization of rules and competition, and the running of national championships to promote good fellowship and unity across the country. The unforgettable motto of the organization was: “Our Country – Our Game.”
Through the 1880s Lacrosse grew at a phenomenal rate until, by the turn of the century, it was the premier sport in Canada. By the end of 1867 there were about 80 clubs operating across the country. By 1877 there were 11 clubs in Montreal alone and 7 in Toronto. Major clubs also operated out of Ottawa, Hamilton, Quebec City, and there were more than 100 clubs throughout the towns and communities in Ontario and Quebec.
The game, however, was not restricted to just those two provinces. Manitoba joined the ranks of Lacrosse-playing provinces as early as 1871 with clubs operating in Fort Garry and Winnipeg. By the spring of 1883 Albertans were playing the game. Lacrosse spread into the Maritimes by 1889 in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the following year. British Columbia, long one of the major forces in Lacrosse, began playing the game in the 1880s and by 1890 the British Columbia Amateur Lacrosse Association was formed. In 1893 the last remaining province, Saskatchewan, had formed its first clubs and was active in the sport.
In addition to the number of clubs playing the sport, fans and the press became obsessed with Lacrosse. Games in the 1880s were commonly attended by 5,000 fans, and it was not unusual to see as many as 10,000. The press of the time took great care and attention to report not only the most recent games and scores, with full descriptions of the games, but also to report all the activities of meetings and assemblies. A common message that was repeated time and again was the reference to Lacrosse as the “National Sport of Canada”. The Canadian press knew that it was the most important sport to their readers.
Among the many accomplishments of the sport of Lacrosse from that era was innovation in presenting sport to the fans. One of the first night games to be played under the new “Electric Light” was played in August of 1880 at the Shamrock Lacrosse Field in Montreal. In order to help the fans follow what was occurring on the field at night, in a second game the promoters decided to coat the ball with phosphorous. Another major innovation was the concept of presenting other sports as entertainment during the breaks in the game. It was common practice to hold track and field competitions and demonstrations during the half time breaks of Lacrosse games.
The advent of the 20th century saw Lacrosse as the dominant sport in Canada. There were extensive amateur and professional leagues across the country and teams routinely travelled from Quebec and Ontario to B.C. and vice versa to challenge for supremacy in the game. As an example of its popularity, in 1910 a Montreal team travelled to New Westminster to challenge for the Championship of Canada. The game was attended by more than 15,000 fans. The total population of New Westminster at the time was less than 12,000.
In 1901 Lord Minto, the Governor General of Canada, aware of what the game meant to the public of Canada, donated a silver cup to become the symbol of the senior amateur championship of Canada. The Minto Cup, today the symbol of supremacy in the Junior ranks, remains one of the proudest prizes of Lacrosse. The fierce competition for senior supremacy in Canada led to the dominance of professional teams and soon the Minto Cup became the trophy of the professional leagues.
In 1910 Sir Donald Mann, chief architect of the Canadian Northern Railway, donated a gold cup to be awarded to the national amateur senior champion. When donated in 1910, the Mann Cup was appraised at $2500.00. Today it is one of the most valuable and beautiful trophies in all of sport, and the championship prize of the best Senior team in Box Lacrosse in Canada. So popular was the sport that such notables as P.D. Ross, owner and editor of the Ottawa Journal, donated trophies for competitions in their areas. The Ross Cup, first donated in 1906 for the championship of the Ottawa area, has been rededicated by the C.L.A. as the championship trophy of Senior Men’s Field Lacrosse.
The Olympics of 1904 and 1908 saw Lacrosse, very popular in Canada, the United States and Great Britain, chosen as part of the program. The sport, so much a part of the community life, provided one of Canada’s gold medals in 1904, which was the first Olympics to which Canada sent an official delegation. The Olympic program of those early years was determined a great deal by the host country. Therefore when the venues shifted to European sites, Lacrosse, not popular on the continent, was dropped from the program of competition. Though its career in the Olympics was short lived, Lacrosse still remains the only team sport in which Canada has won more gold medals than the rest of the world combined.
The sport of Lacrosse, years ahead of its time in becoming professional, had made a virtue and a standard of a practice which was in direct conflict with the majority view of a society which still reflected the Victorian ideals of amateurism and excellence in sport for its own sake. The nature of this controversy was reflected in the struggle within the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association to resolve the fact that Lacrosse was the only “professional” sport in the organization. It resulted in major conflicts between factions of the organization and by 1920 the Montreal Lacrosse Club, part of the M.A.A.A. and founder of the sport of Lacrosse, had been so severely restricted and penalized by the organization for professionalism that it could no longer compete in any league.
In 1925 the organizers of Lacrosse throughout the country began to realize the need for solidarity and combined effort to revive the game. That year saw the re-creation of the Canadian Amateur Lacrosse Association with all the sport united under one banner. The Mann Cup was awarded to the senior champion of Canada and the Minto Cup was awarded to the junior champion. Unfortunately the war years and the new freedoms provided by technology and the attraction of the countryside took their toll of available athletes and the sport still struggled with participation.
The coming of the 1930s brought innovation once again to the sport. Promoters began to consider alternatives to the game of Field Lacrosse. Hockey popularity was rising and in order to capitalize on the familiar winter venue of indoor rinks, the promoters married the two most popular games, Lacrosse and Hockey, and created indoor Lacrosse, also known as Box Lacrosse or Boxla. The game was built upon speed and action and very quickly won massive support within the organization. By the mid 30s the field game had been completely replaced by Boxla and the box version became the official sport of the Canadian Lacrosse Association. Soon, nowhere in Canada was anyone playing the original version of the game of Lacrosse.
As Canada turned its attention away from the game of Field Lacrosse, the sport was gaining popular support and growing rapidly south of the border and overseas. Introduced into the United States in the 1870s, Lacrosse had continued to expand and win acceptance along the eastern seaboard. The more hospitable weather conditions helped to make Lacrosse prosper in the institutions of higher learning, especially in the Ivy League schools, as a spring sport. England continued its passion for the Canadian game introduced in the 1870s and following the example of exhibition games played before Queen Victoria, it became a sport of the upper classes and found a welcome home in private schools and universities. Australia was the other hotbed of Lacrosse. Imported from Britain, it took hold and has existed happily and popularly since the 1880s and 90s. Thus outside of Canada, sport enthusiasts had taken to our game with a passion and while they held to the traditional game, back home in Canada Box Lacrosse was the passion.
The game of Lacrosse has evoked Canada’s uniqueness and individuality as a nation for well over a century. It has accomplished this function largely because of the willingness of government, historians, writers and the sports community to use it as a symbol of Canada. It has been accepted around the world that it is an integral part of Canadian culture and history.
Participation in Lacrosse has had a roller-coastered history. While the game grew in the late 1800s, participation waned in the 1920s until the introduction of Box Lacrosse. And although the game grew tremendously since then, it has had further ups and downs, but leading into and during the 1990s, participation rates grew exponentially in all forms of the game. Currently more than 100,000 players register with the Canadian Lacrosse Association.
The World Championships of Lacrosse, which are attended every four years, are considered significant international events. The major difficulty in the 1960s and 70s was that while the other countries were playing Field Lacrosse, in Canada, only Box Lacrosse was played. For the first few world championships, the CLA was forced to convert its premier Box players to field players.
The culmination of this effort came in 1978, when against all odds the Canadian team pulled off a major upset and defeated the powerful American team in the championship game. This was the only time the Americans have lost the World title since its inception. Having lost badly to the Americans in the round robin by a score of 24-3, the Canadian team stormed back to win the championship in overtime 17-16. The Canadian National Team also emerged victorious in the 2006 World Games.
The fallout of that win in the United States has been the renewal of interest and participation in Box Lacrosse. The resurgence of those games has produced a form of Lacrosse which is unique to Canada. The marriage of the skill, patience and strategy of the pure field game with the speed and reaction of the Box game is what makes Lacrosse in Canada different than anywhere else in the world.
Dozens of countries are now involved in Lacrosse – from the USA, Australia, England, Scotland and Wales to the relative newcomers Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, etc. The Iroquois Nationals, a Native North American team, participate in the Men’s World Cup as a separate “national team”.
Will Lacrosse Ever Go Mainstream?
In college his love of the game continued to grow and after graduating with a degree in journalism, O’Neill decided to return to his roots. He now coaches varsity lacrosse at Gonzaga and is not surprised that this overlooked sport is increasingly becoming the favorite pastime of young athletes across the country. “Young boys like to be aggressive and physical, and they enjoy that aspect of the game,” he says.
NORTH AMERICA’S FIRST GAME
Invented by Native Americans, lacrosse is considered by many to be North America’s first sport, but its rich history is unfamiliar to many sports fans today. Lacrosse was football hall-of-famer Jim Brown’s favorite sport. It is the official summer game of Canada, and Wayne Gretzky is a noted lacrosse enthusiast. American lacrosse has historically been concentrated in New York, New England, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, where it has been played predominantly at prep schools and private universities, but after World War II its popularity began to grow and that growth accelerated during the 1970s.
Today, lacrosse is considered the fastest growing team sport in America. According to an annual survey produced by the organization US Lacrosse, the number of lacrosse players increased from 253,931 in 2001 to 624,593 in 2010. That figure includes 324,673 youth players. To put those figures in perspective, in 2010 The New York Times reported that one million boys and girls play basketball, making it America’s most popular youth sport. But basketball and other team sports cannot rival lacrosse’s explosive growth over the past several decades, which has occurred at every level of competition. The NCAA Division I Men’s lacrosse championship now regularly draws crowds that are smaller only than those at the men’s basketball championship and certain bowl games. There are two professional leagues in North America with 17 franchises between them, and franchises in Denver and Buffalo regularly have an attendance of more than 15,000 fans.
So why has the sport with the incredibly marketable nickname “the fastest game on two feet” exploded in popularity in recent years? And can lacrosse transform itself from a sport with niche appeal to a commodity that is well-known and popular with casual sports fans across the country?
Donald Fisher, author of Lacrosse: A History of the Game, says that unlike other American team sports, lacrosse was plagued by limited access to equipment during the 19th and 20th centuries and this inhibited its growth. “In the late nineteenth century, manufacturers such as Albert Spalding provided America with a large supply of baseball bats, balls, and gloves,” he told me via email. “Conversely, virtually every American lacrosse player’s wooden stick was produced by Mohawk Indian craftsmen from the St. Regis Reserve near Cornwall, Ontario.” These craftsmen’s limited production capacity effectively kept lacrosse’s growth in check until the 1970s when mass-produced synthetic sticks hit the market, allowing more players easy access to the essential piece of equipment.
The Creator’s Game: Native People Created Lacrosse Yet Now Strive to Play the Sport in International Arenas
A Healing Gift
The Haudenosaunee believe lacrosse was a gift from the Creator. Some tell the story of Sky Woman, who fell to Earth and landed on the back of a great turtle. Sky Woman rubbed the back of the turtle with soil, which became the Earth or as it known in many Native cultures, Turtle Island.
Sky Woman later had a daughter, Tekawerahkwa or Breath of the Wind, who gave birth to twins. One, Sapling, was good, and the other, Flint, was bad. They always fought, even in the womb. While Sapling’s birth was normal, Flint erupted out of his mother’s armpit, killing her. As the twin’s grandmother, Sky Woman, raised the boys, she decided they should play lacrosse to peacefully resolve their disputes.
Rick Hill (Tuscarora), co-founder of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s lacrosse team, the Iroquois Nationals, relayed another story about the sport’s origins: “Some warriors went to the Sky World, the spiritual realm beyond the clouds, and found that a lacrosse game was going on, much to the delight of the spirits on that other side. Because the game was a way for the men to work out their aggression without violence, it became the Creator’s favorite game. When those warriors returned from the Sky World and had learned to give up killing, they introduced the game of lacrosse and we have been playing it ever since.”
Lacrosse continues to be an essential part of Haudenosaunee identity and culture, and Hill says that the game still has the ability to heal. “It is recreation, social, spiritual and metaphysical in that it represents a form of medicine power,” he says. “The power of the stick, the movement of the ball and player conduct contributed to its ability to entertain or to cure.”
Hill says traditionally, “Each family and clan had lacrosse players. They were admired for the natural abilities, fleetness of foot, agility to move past defenders, and the accuracy of their passing and scoring. In the old days, a single pole would serve as the goal and the players had to hit it with a leather or wooden ball. Later, two fork poles were placed in the ground and another pole was placed crosswise for the goal. Old games were played until one team scored three goals.” Today the games are played based on four 12-minute quarters.
Jack Johnson (Akwesasne Mohawk) is a lacrosse stick maker who uses traditional materials such as hickory wood that are harvested locally for the sticks and rawhide gut wall to weave the nets. “Making lacrosse sticks is kind of my medicine,” he says. “It just keeps me happy. I think in creating something, where you harvest and cut the trees, as long as you are in a good mind and you do it the original way, that’s what it is all about.”
Today, traditional sticks are still given to young children, even while they are still in the crib. Youth begin to play the game starting at age seven in pee wee leagues. Some players still use traditional sticks to practice at home. To the Iroquois, an important aspect of the game is remembering the traditional origins of the sport.
Though Native players brought the sport of lacrosse to the world, they have often been banned from playing it. Beginning in the 1630s, when Jesuits first saw lacrosse being played, they condemned it, saying it was violent and that bets were placed on the sport. In 1740 French colonists began to play but were no match for the Haudenosaunee players.
In the 1840s, non-Native players began to take up the sport. In 1856, William George Beers founded the Montreal Lacrosse Club and created new rules to shorten the game. In the 1860s the sport became Canada’s national game. Then in 1867, the National Lacrosse Association (NLA) of Canada prohibited Indigenous players from joining. In 1880, they were banned from playing in championship games.
Though history has largely omitted their involvement, Iroquois lacrosse players competed at the 1904 Olympic games as did the Winnipeg Shamrocks. The last year the sport was recognized at the Olympics was 1908, when only two teams played, one from Canada and the other from Great Britain. The Iroquois did not play.
However, not until the Iroquois Nationals was formed in 1983 was the team considered a true contender. The Nationals is the only all-Native lacrosse team. Oren Lyons (Onondaga) and Hill co-founded the team to assert Native representation in the sport and Haudenosaunee sovereignty while showing the world that a Native team was deserving of international recognition.
The first years the team played it was defeated by collegiate teams. In 1984, the Iroquois Nationals defeated England at a special tribute game prior to the Los Angeles Olympic games. The following year team members used their Iroquois passports to play in England.
Though the team played at a high level, its climb to participate at the championship levels was at first stifled by the official international governing body of the sport, the Indoor Lacrosse Federation (ILF). In 1986, the Iroquois Nationals’ petition to take part in 1986 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships was denied by the ILF. The reasons for denial are unclear, but many cite the Nationals’ unique position as a team from a sovereign Native nation as a possible reason. However, the following year, the ILF accepted the Nationals as the fifth team from a nation, along with those from Australia, Canada, England and the United States.
As the only Native team in the ILF, they competed in their first international event at the 1990 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, finishing fifth out of five teams. They would win their first world championship series match in 1994 against Japan with a score of 16–2. The Nationals have since won two bronze medals in 2014 and 2018 at the World Lacrosse Championships. Additionally, the team hosted the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships at the Onondaga Nation, winning a silver medal.
Though lacrosse was traditionally seen solely as a men’s sport, the formation of the Iroquois Nationals inspired Haudenosaunee women to create the Haudenosaunee Women’s Lacrosse team. The team was officially recognized by the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) in 2008. Today, the lacrosse leagues in North America are three men’s leagues—the National Lacrosse League, Major League Lacrosse and Premier Lacrosse League—and two women’s, the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League and United Women’s Lacrosse League.
A Stamp of Sovereignty
In order to participate in the international competitions such as the Olympics, teams must come from nations recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Otherwise, they may never make it into the country where they are supposed to be competing.
The Haudenosaunee Confederacy has issued passports since 1927. These were widely accepted at borders until the terrorist attacks targeting New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, increased security measures and restricted border crossings. Some foreign nations have refused to recognize the confederacy as a sovereign entity independent of the United States or Canada, on which six Native nations that belong to the confederacy—the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora—reside.
Since then, the Iroquois Nationals has been at the center of controversy for its members having passports that foreign nations have not recognized. They have had to wait at airports for officials to decide whether they will accept their passports or cause them to forfeit games. When playing Canada in the Onondaga World Indoor Lacrosse Championships in 2015, some non-Native Canadian players refused to have their passports stamped in the Onondaga Nation tribal offices.
In 2010, the Nationals was planning on playing in the World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester, England. To ensure their passports would be accepted upon their return to the United States, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton granted a one-time waiver of passport requirements. However, Great Britain refused to recognize the passports of Iroquois Nationals players, effectively disallowing them to participate.
The Nationals’ attempts to play in the World Lacrosse Championship in Israel in 2018 looked precarious as well. But at the last moment, the passport restrictions between Canada and Israel were resolved and the team was able to play.
The women’s team has also faced passport issues, and in 2015, withdrew its U19 (players under 19 years old) team from the World Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2017, the players celebrated a victory of recognition and traveled to Guilford, England, using their passports to compete in the FIL Women’s World Cup.
As Tadadaho Sid Hill, the traditional leader of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Onondaga Nation, wrote in an October 2015 editorial for The Guardian: “We travel the world on our own passports, embracing the full rights extended by the rules of international law and diplomacy. Too often, our passports are denied by the very countries that took our land. They call them ‘fantasy documents,’ but they are not.”
A World-Class Gesture
The Nationals hasn’t always received a cold reception, however. Thirty-five countries have officially recognized its members’ passports, and one team even stepped aside so that the Nationals could play.
After the 2018 Men’s World Championships, the eight top teams were selected to represent their nations at the next World Games. The Nationals had placed third at the 2018 World Championships, while Ireland’s team Ireland Lacrosse placed 12th. Yet because the sovereignty of the team’s nationality status was still being questioned and it lacked an official Olympic committee, the Nationals was not among the eight teams invited to participate in the 2022 Men’s Lacrosse U21 World Championship games in Limerick, Ireland.
Ireland Lacrosse did receive an invitation. But its team members thought about the nine massive stainless-steel eagle feathers that reach to the sky in Midleton, Ireland—a memorial to the Choctaw Nation’s generous gift of $170 to Ireland in 1847, during the country’s famine. The gift has never been forgotten. Ireland Lacrosse pulled out of the event and gave its spot to the Nationals. The gesture was accepted by the International World Games Association and The World Games 2022 Organizing Committee of Birmingham.
“I was very thankful for the call that notified me that we were in the World Games,” says Leo Nolan (Akwesasne Mohawk), the executive director of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Program. “But my other reaction was empathy for the Irish team. Our connectedness to the folks in Ireland became even closer.”
In a show of solidarity, the Irish and Iroquois Nationals created T-shirts sporting both teams’ colors and the Iroquois Nationals’ logos. On them is the statement in Gaelic “I dteannta a chéile,” or “Together as one.”
The number of lacrosse players in North America is significant. According to a 2017 U.S. Lacrosse survey, about 830,000 Americans participate in lacrosse. The Canadian Lacrosse Association has 100,000 registered players. World Lacrosse recognizes all five lacrosse leagues and 68 national teams.
The Haudenosaunee women’s lacrosse team is aiming to play in the 2022 Women’s World Championship in Towson, Maryland. The Iroquois Nationals is vying for a shot to compete once again in the Olympics, this time in Los Angeles in 2028. But first the International Olympic Committee must acknowledge the team’s Olympic Committee.
Whether or not the Nationals team plays in the Olympics will not impact the inherent importance of lacrosse in Haudenosaunee culture and as an indicator of the confederacy’s sovereignty. Former Executive Director of the Iroquois Nationals Ansley Jemison (Seneca) says the members of the Iroquois Nationals are not just athletes but also representatives of the confederacy. “These are really outstanding young men, leaders, and outstanding people in the communities,” he says. “It can be challenging because you’ve got a lot of very highly talented players and some of the things that we’re going to ask them to do, go to an international border and carry a passport and stand up for the fact that we don’t want to travel with the U.S. or Canadian passport. We are representing who we are, the original people of Turtle Island.”
Iroquois Nationals player Randy Staats (Mohawk) says it’s all about representing his community. “Growing up on the reserve and knowing what it means to myself, my family, our community and our Haudenosaunee people who invented the sport . . . is awesome. That’s why I feel more connected to the game, because when I’m playing, I’m not just representing my family, I’m representing more than that.”
For more than a decade, the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., has hosted the presentation ceremony of the Tewaaraton Award. This award is given annually to the most outstanding U.S. college lacrosse men and women players. (“Tewaaraton” is the Mohawk word for lacrosse). Because the museum has not yet reopened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tewaaraton Foundation will be hosting this year’s awards.
In 2013, Lyle Thompson became the first American Indian to be named a player in the top five men’s finalists. Brothers Lyle Thompson and Miles Thompson (Onondaga) were given the top Tewaaraton award in 2014, and Lyle Thompson won it again in 2015. They and their other two brothers have become the poster children of lacrosse.
In spite of being seen as a lacrosse superstar, Lyle says he still has his people in mind when he plays. “Every game I play, I am thinking about traditions, the Creator and why I am playing this game,” he says. “I am just thankful to be playing the Creator’s game.”
Sambo has become an Olympic sport – Rossiyskaya Gazeta
This event has been waited for for so many years. And then it happened. At the 138th session of the IOC, SAMBO received full recognition from the International Olympic Committee. FIAS (International Sambo Federation) officially entered the Olympic family.
After all, there was a chance, a hope, a timid attempt to turn a popular sport into an Olympic one back in 1980. Moscow hosted the Olympics at that time, and the hosts of the Games have the opportunity to offer the arbiters of destinies from the IOC to include some kind of favorite sport in their country in the program.Alas, it failed.
And the attempts stopped for a long time. To resume only in 2009. And soon new energetic leaders came to FIAS. For many years this federation has been headed by Vasily Borisovich Shestakov. A famous St. Petersburg heavy weight sambist in the past, an excellent trainer and sports organizer, he has come a long way to the post of FIAS President. It is thanks to his authority, perseverance, ability to get along with people, to find a common language even with the most difficult opponents, SAMBO gained popularity on all five continents.
Yes, self-defense without weapons is our original sport. But without focusing on their own successes, without chasing medals, Russian sambists passed on their rich experience to athletes from a good hundred countries. How many coaching and referee seminars, sports camps with the participation of our specialists have been held all over the world over the past decade. Through the efforts of FIAS, its president and members of the executive committee, sambo wrestlers from eight dozen countries are now taking part in the world championships. Many of them win medals, which we, the Russians, being always the first in the team competition, are only happy about.Efforts were not in vain. Overseas students follow our path, not hesitating to challenge the founding fathers.
In 2018, SAMBO received the temporary recognition of the IOC. There were several steps left before the official recognition, stretching for almost three years. During this time, sambo competitions have entered the programs of the Universiades and the European Games. Spectators at the World Beach and Asian Games watched with great interest the bouts on the sambist mat. Sambo wrestlers have won the respect of the foreign press.Every year, the leaders of the world sambo perform at the Congresses of the International Association of Sports Press (AIPS), and the demonstration performances at them by sambo wrestlers have become a kind of highlight.
All conditions for official entry, sometimes even more complicated in the process, were impeccably observed. Congratulations to all sambists, sports leaders and fans!
In addition, the International Association of Kickboxing Organizations, the International Amateur Thai Boxing Federation, the World Lacrosse Federation, the International Cheerleading Union and the International Icestock Federation also received full recognition at the 138th Session of the IOC.
Well, one cannot fail to notice the frank confession of the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, who said that he had moments of doubt, “when the Olympic Games could fall to pieces.” At the same time, Bach thanked in his speech all the doctors in Japan who are doing everything necessary to ensure safety.
The International Olympic Committee has approved a new motto for the Olympic Games.
From now on it sounds: “Faster, higher, stronger – together.”
Let’s remind, earlier the motto of the Games sounded like “Faster, higher, stronger”.It was approved by the first Olympic congress back in 1894.
The new motto was proposed by the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, who commented on the incident to journalists in the following way:
– My emotions are now very difficult to describe. The adoption of a new motto is truly a landmark event. Solidarity fuels our great mission to make the world a better place through sports. We can only go faster, we can only strive higher, we can become stronger only by standing together – as a sign of solidarity.
Prepared Mikhail Shcherban
Lacrosse (from the French la crosse – club) is a contact sports game between two teams using a small rubber ball (62.8-64.77 mm, 140-146 g) and a long-handled stick called a stick ( English lacrosse stick or French crosse). Lacrosse is often considered a tough contact sport, but injuries are much less common than in American football and other contact sports.The top of the club is braided with a loose mesh designed to catch and hold the ball. The object of the game is to throw the ball into the opponent’s goal using your club to catch, control and pass the ball. The task of the defense is to prevent a goal from being scored and to get the ball with a stick, contact fight or correct position on the field. There are four positions in the game: midfielder, attacker, defender, goalkeeper. In field lacrosse, the attackers only attack (except for the “ride” situation, when the defense tries to get the ball out and the attackers try to prevent them), the defenders only defend (except for the “clear” situation, when they need to get the ball out), the goalkeeper is the last As a defensive line directly defending the goal, midfielders can be in any part of the field and play both defensively and attacking, although at a high level of play there is always a specialization between the defending and attacking midfielder.
History of appearance
Prototype of lyacross. Lithograph of the first half of the 19th century Team Winnipeg Shamrocks, Olympic champions in lyacrosse 1904
The game was invented by the American Indians, who used it to train warriors and peacefully resolve conflicts between tribes. According to archaeological research, the prototype of lyacross was known on the territory of modern Canada at the beginning of the 15th century. Teams at that time often consisted of several hundred people, and the length of the field for the game ranged from several hundred meters to several kilometers.
European settlers got acquainted with this game in the 17th century, and by the beginning of the 19th century it began to gain popularity among the French population of Canada. The first official lacrosse match took place in Canada in 1867.
Lacrosse was twice included in the program of the Summer Olympic Games – in 1904 and 1908, and was also an exhibition sport at the 1928, 1932 and 1948 Olympics.
The game involves two teams that try to hit the opponent’s goal with a rubber ball (62.8-64.77 mm, 140-147 g) using a special stick called a stick.A net is attached to the top of the club, called the head, so that the player can catch and hold the ball in it. The main goal of the game for the attackers is to throw the ball into the opponent’s goal. To do this, the players pass passes and use dribbling. The main goal of the defenders is to prevent a goal from the opposing team. To do this, they can kick the ball with a club or push the player into the body. The team consists of four types of players: striker, midfielder, defender, goalkeeper. As a rule, in lacrosse, forwards play only in the zone near the opponent’s goal, defenders only in the zone near their goal, and midfielders can be located in any zone and play as forwards or as defenders.In high-level teams, midfielders are attackers (they play mainly during the attack of their team) and defenders (they play mainly during the attack of the opposing team).
Variants of the game
Currently, there are several varieties of lyacross, differing in the size of the field, the number of players and the rules. There are four main varieties: lacrosse in the field ( on the grass or simply lacrosse ), “lacrosse in a box”, intercross, polocross. Since 1967, the men’s world championships in lyacross on the grass have been held, in which teams from various countries, as well as the Iroquois Indian tribe (since 1990), take part.
There are more than three dozen national lyacross federations in the world. Most of them are located in Europe and were created in the last decade of the 20th century, but the USA and Canada remain the leading countries, where lyacrosse is very popular.
Lacrosse in Canada
In Canada, the game is a national summer sport. The Canadian Lacrosse Association was founded in 1867 and is the oldest in the world. There are annual indoor lacrosse championships for adults and youth, in two divisions each, as well as a three-division outdoor lacrosse championship.
- Lacrosse in a box
- Mann Cup Senior “A” – held since 1901, the trophy is made of pure gold and costs about 25 thousand dollars.
- Presidents Cup Senior “B”
- Minto Cup Junior “A”
- Founders Cup Junior “B”
- Open Lacrosse
- Ross Cup Senior Division I (since 1984)
- Victory Trophy Senior Division II ( since 1985)
- Baggataway Cup University
Lacrosse in the USA
In the USA, the sport is represented by the professional lacrosse league – Major League Lacrosse.Lacrosse is also one of the official sports of the National University Sports Association. The championship of the first division includes 88 varsity teams, the second division – 46 teams and the third division – 208 teams.
Internationally, the United States is represented by the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, as well as the youth teams under 19. In addition, the Iroquois Nationals, representing the confederation of the Iroquois tribes of the United States and Canada, take part in international competitions.
Lacrosse in Russia
In Russia (as of February 2020) there are three teams in the following cities:
- Moscow (Moscow Lacrosse Club)
- St. Petersburg (“White Knights”)
- Yaroslavl (Golden Ring Warriors)
Lacrosse in other countries
Small communities of lacrosse have long existed in England and Australia. Starting in the 1990s, other national lacrosse associations began to appear, which now exist in two dozen European countries, in New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, etc.e. All of them are united in an international federation, with the exception of independent associations in India and China.
90,000 What is the World’s Oldest Team Sports?
There are a number of contenders, but some owe their place on the list to the fact that a sport similar in appearance seems to have existed. I also argue that the counting of ancient sports should be at least fleetingly similar to modern ones.
For example, hockey looks like a sport that existed 2000 years ago, but there is no continuous connection between them.Hockey comes from cricket – or rather, cricket teams in Middlesex looking for something to do in the winter. I would say that the fact that people in ancient Greece also hit the ball with a stick is irrelevant.
The same goes for football, which is a compromise sport based on the many football codes invented in 1863. Again, the idea of kicking the ball is hardly original, and the fact that people did it in ancient Rome and China does not make football (as we know it) older.The Football Association would also have been nearly impossible to play before the invention of the lawn mower. In this respect, rugby is better than football, but not much better, not least because no other sport compares to football, which was played even 200 years ago.
Cricket has a much longer history than any of the above. Moreover, from what we know, a game played in the 16th century would be immediately recognized as cricket. It’s hard to say how old cricket is, but the terminology and basis for things like field length suggest that history could possibly go 300 years before.Cricket may also have a legitimate claim to be the oldest codified sport – although it has gone through many revisions, there is a straight line of written rules dating back 400 years.
Throwing is older than cricket, and while modern sport is probably more different from the ancient game than cricket, its ancient game seems to represent a line of evolution that is at least 1500 years old.
Other ancient team sports are horse-based as they evolve in conjunction with the development of cavalry skills.Polo was codified in 1833 but has a direct link to Indian equestrian sports. Again, modern sports are likely to look very different, not least because without a lawnmower it is nearly impossible to play. It is much better to justify equestrian sports for buzkashi, which are at least 1000 years old, and they have practically not changed – the “ball” is the carcass of a goat.
Another possible contender is Ulama, which is said to be derived from the Aztec hardware game Ōllamaliztli, for which it was found as early as 1600 BC.The catch is that we have no idea how we played Ōllamaliztli, so it might not even be a team game.
So, the oldest codified team sport recognized today as the same sport? Cricket.
Oldest field team sport on record? Discarding.
The oldest consistent team sport? Buzkashi
External competitor, if we knew more, if its history? Ulama / Ōllamaliztli