Lacrosse is one of the oldest team sports in North America. This game took a long time to evolve into today’s lacrosse. Currently, lacrosse is widely prevalent among Americans and Canadians, and gradually people are becoming fond of this game. As per the basic rule, two teams can play a lacrosse match. Players must carry, pass, catch and shoot the ball into the goal net with the lacrosse stick’s head. Each team has one goalie who prevents opponents from getting the ball into their net with his lacrosse stick.
This super-exciting game has a long and fascinating story. In the beginning, people used to think the game to be a blessing from the Almighty for their recreational purpose. Later on, this game was recognized widely and slowly evolved as modern lacrosse.
When was Lacrosse First Invented – History of the Lacrosse Game
Origin of Lacrosse
The origin of lacrosse is a tribal game, which was quite similar to lacrosse. Native Americans of Eastern Woodlands (United States of America) and some Plains Indians (Canadian) used to play some tribal games with sticks and balls, popular as stickball games. These games were played in early 1100 AD. Some ancient games like dehuntshigwa’es in Oee, Tewaaraton in Mohawk language, baaga’adowe in Ojibwe, and kabucha in Choctaw had almost the same playing pattern as lacrosse. That’s why, somewhat, these games are considered the precursors of the game of lacrosse.
Game of indigenous North American
Aborigines of North America used to arrange major sports events that continued for several days. This was a part of their culture and their religious belief. This game was a part of any ceremonial ritual or to thank the creator. A large number of players could take part in these events. Mostly, these sports events occurred between villages or tribes. Each team had an indefinite number of players, and some estimates claim that around 100 to 100,000 players used to play this game with a vast area covering several kilometers. Players who participated in this game were considered warriors who brought glory and prosperity. As I already mentioned, aborigines considered the game ‘the creator’s game.’
Rules for the game were quite similar to modern lacrosse. Players were not allowed to touch the ball with their hands and shoot it to a goal. Any specific tree or rock was marked as the goal then. The village medicine man had to be the coach, and players rushed to catch and pass the ball after he tossed the ball.
As this was a traditional game, it had a few conventional playing purposes such as settling inter-tribal disagreements, toughening young warriors, recreation, a part of any festival, a bet, and religious beliefs.
As the game was considered a war, players had to perform all the preparations and rituals almost like a war. They used to decorate their body and sticks with paints and charcoal to represent their qualities. The night before the game, players and their supporters sang and danced, hoping for victory. In a nutshell, the game was played by the aborigines considering it to be a festival.
At that time, modern lacrosse equipment was neither invented nor could be found. Lacrosse balls were made of wood at first. People replaced it with deerskin-covered balls stuffed with fur or hair for the convenience of playing. A big wooden spoon without netting was the stick for the game. Though different tribes had different designs of their lacrosse sticks, they were mostly similar.
The involvement of European created a new chapter.
During the 1630s, the French Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf was the first European who had seen Huron tribes playing the game in the St. Lawrence Valley. Witnessing the game, he opposed it as he thought it was a violent sport involving betting. He wrote about the game for the first time and used the term ‘lacrosse, which means the stick in the French language. Despite Jesuit criticism regarding this game, many European showed interest in this sport. In the 1740s, French colonists had already started excitingly playing the game.
The sport became so popular that Ojibwas used the lacrosse game in 1763 to capture Fort Michilimackinac, now recognized as Mackinac. People grew a lot of curiosity about this sport, and later in 1834, a group of Caughnawaga Indians exhibited lacrosse in Montreal, Canada. As a result, Canadians steadily drew towards the game, and William George Beers, a Canadian dentist, founded the Montreal lacrosse club in 1856. In 1867, he reformed all the lacrosse rules, including reducing players’ numbers, shortening the playing area, introducing rubber balls, and redesigned lacrosse sticks.
In 1860, lacrosse became Canada’s national sport, giving the game more worldwide recognition. It entered the world games after 1908. However, lacrosse gained many negative condemnations due to its violent aspects. Lacrosse became one of the world’s most popular and adopted games by the 20th century.
As we can see, although lacrosse was invented in North America, European colonizers have contributed a lot and modified the sport to reduce its violence and create the current professional form.
Lacrosse is also broadly popular with women. Women are also taking part prestigiously in this game for a long time.
After being lacrosse as the national sport of Canada, Queen Victoria witnessed the sport in 1876. She complimented it much, which was enough for English girls’ schools to show interest in the game. Then, the St. Leonards School headmistress n St Andrews, Scotland, Miss Lumsden, found the game beautiful and graceful. So, she decided to introduce the sport to the girls at her school. In 1890, this school was recorded as the first school to organize a women’s lacrosse contest. This caused other girls’ schools to adopt the game as one of the league sports. In 1905, the first club for women’s lacrosse was founded by Southern Ladies Club in England. Steadily, the number of women playing lacrosse increased to an impressive range. In 1912, The Ladies Lacrosse Association was established, and international matches began the following year. Ladies lacrosse in international competitions stepped to another level when The Scottish Ladies Lacrosse Association was founded in 1920.
Lacrosse rules for men and women have not so many dissimilarities except for some equipment and physical contact. Lacrosse sticks also differ due to the gameplay for men and women. Any physical contact is not allowed in women’s lacrosse, and some specific protective gears, including the mouth and eye guard, are legal to work at the match.
Lacrosse is still developing and growing interest people every day steadily. This is notably popular in Canada and the United States. However, people worldwide, especially from the United Kingdom and Australia, actively participate in the sport. A recent survey shows that US kids and boys-girls show interest in lacrosse as an uncommon and new sport to get introduced. These active responses from youth towards lacrosse lead us to the hope of developing and representing the sport more.
Indigenous North Americans played games like lacrosse since early 1100 AD though Jesuits discovered the game in the 1630s. European involvement in the sport started worldwide recognition, where North Americans enjoyed the game as their tribal and festival part. Since then, it has evolved frequently, and today, we got the game’s current professional form. It is undeniable how Canadians developed and reformed the game rules to bring this into the current position.