has one of the most complicated and extensive histories of all the
major sports in the world today. Lacrosse was first played by the
Native Americans before Europeans even knew that
It was mainly created by the Iroquois and the Huron tribes. These two
tribes lived near the
St. Lawrence River
There have been speculations that the games was adapted from many of
the Meso-American rubber ball games, however, nothing has been proven.
The Native Americans played the game for recreation and occasionally
to settle scores between people. For these reasons, lacrosse was often
referred to as a substitute for war because it was so violent, brutal,
and vicious. It was also considered military training because of how
cruel and aggressive it is. Players often came off of the field with
welts the size of baseballs from the hard, hair-stuffed deerskin ball,
so, naturally, women were not allowed to play.
Lacrosse was not formally played by non-native peoples until
the mid 1850’s. English speaking people from
the first whites to attempt to “civilize” the sport. In 1856, the
Montreal Lacrosse Club was organized. This organization contained a
small amount of amateur teams. However, by the next year, the amount
of teams rose dramatically to 80 teams, forcing a new league, called
the Canadian National Lacrosse Association. At this time, the
hair-stuffed deerskin ball was replaced by a hard rubber ball. In
1860, Parliament declared lacrosse the official sport of Canada.
However, despite the popularity of lacrosse in
the first official team was not established in America
1879, the United States National Amateur Lacrosse Association was
created by John Flannery. This league consisted of eleven college and
club teams. As a growing sport, lacrosse was featured in the 1904 St.
Louis Olympics and the 1908 London Olympics. Canadian teams won the
gold medal in both years. However, it was removed from the Olympics
until 1928 when it returned as an exhibition event.
In 1905 the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse League was
formed by the merge between the Intercollegiate Association and the
Inter University Lacrosse League. A new set of rules was formed that
led to faster, and safer, game play. The league was dominated by the John
team, winning their
division four times and winning the league championship three times.
Eleven years later, in the 1932 Olympics, 80,000 people sat in the
crowd to watch a game between the John Hopkins team, representing the
United States, and the Canadian
national team. John Hopkins won earning them the gold and to this day,
there has never been that many people attending a lacrosse games.
Around 1931, a new type of lacrosse was created. Box lacrosse was
created in Canada. It was played in hockey
rinks covered with artificial grass. There were only six people
instead of the usual ten players. It was advertised a vicious and
violent game, not much more sophisticated than what the Native
Americans played. However, this sport was not played in America
till about 1987.
By 1950, lacrosse continued to grow in popularity so that there
were a total of 200 college, club, and high school teams. However, the
sport was not only growing on the east coast, but it was becoming
popular along the eastern coast as well. By 1959, the California
Lacrosse Association was formed, officially bringing lacrosse to the
Later in 1959, the Lacrosse Foundation (has now become U.S.
Lacrosse) and the Lacrosse Hall of Fame was formed. They were a
nonprofit organizations committed to the development of lacrosse in
Probably the one of the biggest events in lacrosse history was
when the National Collegiate Athletic Association made the NCAA
Lacrosse Championships. This was a tournament that placed the top 12
Division 1 lacrosse teams in a tournament to determine the champion.
Before, lacrosse championships had been determined by a committee
Lacrosse continued to grow at a steady pace until the late
80’s and early 90’s when it experienced a considerable jump in
attendances. This was mostly due to the exciting play of the Gait
twins, Paul and Gary. With their incredible, never before seen moves,
such as the Air-Gait (the equivalent of a slam dunk in basketball)
they dominated lacrosse for three years. Over that time, their team,
the University of
won three consecutive
championships from ’88-’91. This helped increase the popularity of
lacrosse because for the first time, lacrosse was getting worldwide
media attention. This drew more athletic players to the game, which
resulted in an increased amount of players not only showing stick
skills, but showing natural ability as well.
| Before the Gaits twins joined the
lacrosse team, only John
Hopkins had won the NCAA Championship three years in a row which came
in the late ‘70’s. They were the only teams to achieve this until
successfully won their
third championship in a row. In the first three decades of NCAA
lacrosse history, there have been three main college that have
dominated, John Hopkins, Syracuse, and
Now, lacrosse is
rapidly growing in popularity throughout the country. The eastern
coast is much more into lacrosse than the west coast, but it is
becoming more popular each year. The NCAA championships are becoming
more and more popular and have even been viewed on networks such as
ESPN. As lacrosse continues to grow in popularity, even
is becoming interested.
Lacrosse is one of the world’s fasting growing sports, and is
becoming more and more popular throughout the world each year.
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