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Best Kept Growing Sport? Lacrosse! (Part 1)


By: Passionate Buffalo Bills fan, Patti Bax

Hello sports fans, and welcome back to the IE Sports Radio Blog. A couple years ago I was invited to attend a National Lacrosse Buffalo Bandits game at Key Bank Center in Buffalo, New York. I knew very little about lacrosse, however I thought it sounded fun and, of course, I wanted to support my home team. Little did I know, three years later, I would look forward to watching these amazing athletes.

Like me, you may not know much about lacrosse or its history. When I considered writing my next blog, I knew it had to be the story of lacrosse. This was especially true considering the Buffalo Bandits won an incredible National Lacrosse League Championship on June 3rd, 13-4, holding their rival the Colorado Mammoth to an NLL Finals record low four goals.


Origin and History of Lacrosse (Adapted from https://worldlacrosse.sport/about/origin-history)


Lacrosse is the oldest team sport in North America. It has evolved from what began as stickball, a native American Indian contest played by tribal warriors for training, recreation, and religious reasons. Today, it is a growing interscholastic, professional, and international sport. Native American Indians, specifically the Algonquian tribe, initially played “baggataway” or lacrosse in the St. Lawrence Valley area. It grew in popularity, as other tribes in the eastern half of North America and around the western Great Lakes joined in the fun.


The original version of lacrosse was viewed as an event, attracting fans from nearby villages. The number of players varied from 100 to 100,000 for just one game, as the goals could be miles apart to accommodate all who wanted to participate. It was a simple game, where the ball was not to be touched by a player’s hand. The start of the game was indicated by tossing the ball into the air while players raced to catch it. Deerskin balls filled with fur replaced the original wooden balls and the sticks developed over time to become more sophisticated implements.


Playing lacrosse was a rite of passage to toughen up young warriors for war, as well as a recreational and religious sport. In the 1630’s, French Jesuit missionaries working in the St. Lawrence Valley, first discovered the Native American Indians playing lacrosse. One of the missionaries, Jean de Brébeuf, named the game “lacrosse”, as the sticks resembled croziers, the staff carried by bishops to signify their pastoral duties.

In 1834, interest in the game began to develop in Canada, when the Caughnawaga Indians gave a demonstration of lacrosse in Montreal. Dr William George Beers, a Canadian dentist, founded the Montreal Lacrosse Club in 1856. Ten years later, he drew up rules reducing the number of players, as well as introducing a rubber ball and a redesigned stick. Lacrosse became Canada’s national game by 1860 and in 1867, exhibition games were played in England. In 1876 Queen Victoria watched a game being played and remarked that “The game is very pretty to watch.”


Interest continued to grow across Europe by the turn of the century, and in 1904 and 1908, lacrosse was played in the Summer Olympics. The modern day version of the sport is most like the game played among the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois people, who view lacrosse as the Creator’s Game.


Let’s test your knowledge of lacrosse by answering true or false to each fact below. The answers are at the very end of my blog. No peeking! Adapted from https://berkhamstedsports.com/10-fun-facts-you-never-knew-about-lacrosse


Fact 1: Lacrosse is the fastest game to be played on two feet. True or False


Fact 2: Lacrosse is losing its popularity as a sport in the United States. True or False


Fact 3: The rules for lacrosse were created in 1884 when a game between the Seneca

and Mohawks (tribes) was played. True or False


Fact 4: The first women’s lacrosse game was played in Scotland, 1890. True or False


Fact 5: Lacrosse was originally used to toughen up young men for war, focusing also on the spiritual side. True or False


Below are several key highlights of the storied and momentous history of lacrosse. (Source: https://www.usalacrosse.com/lacrosse-history)


1877 New York University is the first college in the United States to establish a lacrosse team.


1879 John R. Flannery, the father of American lacrosse, establishes the United States national Amateur Lacrosse Association. Nine club teams from New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, including Harvard University and New York University, are part of the association.


1890 The first women’s lacrosse game is played by students at St. Leonard’s School in St. Andrew’s, Scotland. Each team has eight players, and the match lasts for one hour with a ten-minute intermission.


1904 Lacrosse is first played as an Olympic sport. Canada defeats the St. Louis AAA team, representing the USA, for the championship.


1933 Men’s game rule changes reduce the number of players on a side from 12 to 10 and reduced the distance between the goals to 80 yards. Playing time remained at sixty minutes, but was divided into quarters, with teams changing ends after each quarter.


1972 The International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Associations (IFWLA) is founded. The first formal meeting is held in London, England; seven countries attend.

1978 Lacrosse Magazine is first published by the Lacrosse Foundation and becomes the sport’s first magazine showcasing men’s and women’s lacrosse.


1987 Men’s professional indoor lacrosse returns with the launch of the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League. The league becomes the Major Indoor Lacrosse League in 1988 and the National Lacrosse League in 1997.


1998 US Lacrosse is founded by the merger of eight national organizations, becoming the unified national governing body for lacrosse.


2003 The first World Indoor Lacrosse Championship is held, and host Canada defeats the Iroquois Nationals to win gold in Ontario.


2008 The International Lacrosse Federation and the International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Associations merge to form the Federation of International Lacrosse.


2017 Lacrosse is included in The World Games, the multi-sport, Olympic-style event of the International World Games Association, for the first time.


2019 The Federation of International Lacrosse adopts World Lacrosse as its new name.


2019 A new men’s professional league, the Premier Lacrosse League, begins play with a tour-based model and merges with the MLL for the 2021 season.


2021 US Lacrosse rebrands itself as USA Lacrosse, bringing alignment to the organization’s efforts at the grassroots level and the elite national team program.

Congratulations! You just completed a crash course on lacrosse, and you are now ready to learn what happens in the National Lacrosse League when hard work, sweat, and tears partner with the love of the game, as well as a fanbase ready to give their all. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the story.


Thank you for reading my blog. I welcome your thoughts and comments, and please feel free to tweet me at @BuffaloHudl_IE. For more sports content, please don’t forget to listen to our IESR family. Join in the fun by listening to all the podcasts. Huddle up with me on Tuesday nights at 7pm EST, for The Buffalo Huddle W/Patti Bax! Shout out to all you loyal readers and listeners that continue to help our network grow. Thanks again for reading, and we will see you next time on IE Sports Radio; your direct feed for ALL that is sports.


Answers:

Fact 1: Lacrosse is the fastest game to be played on two feet. True or False


Fact 2: Lacrosse is losing its popularity as a sport in the United States. True or False (It’s growing in popularity)


Fact 3: The rules for lacrosse were created in 1884 when a game between the Seneca and Mohawks (tribes) was played. True or False (Created in 1794)


Fact 4: The first women’s lacrosse game was played in Scotland, 1890. True or False


Fact 5: Lacrosse was originally used to toughen up young men for war, focusing also on the spiritual side. True or False

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