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Lacrosse is a team sport in which players use a netted stick, the crosse, to throw or bat a ball into a goal; players may also kick the ball into the goal. The game originated in contests among various North American Indians. The Indian game, baggataway, received its modern name from French Canadians who saw in the crosse's shaft a resemblance to a bishop's crosier (la croix). Intertribal Indian games used as many as 200 men to a side, and the goal area was designated by the place where the senior medicine man from each tribe stood. A modern lacrosse game with a set of rules was first played in an enclosed field by two Indian teams in 1834. Soon many whites played the game, and in 1867, Dr. George W. Beers, a native of Montreal, codified the first lacrosse rules. The game spread to other English-speaking countries, and in North America it remains a popular club and school sport.
The modern lacrosse field is 110 yd (100.58 m) long and from 60 to 70 yd (54.86 to 64 m) wide. The goals have 6-ft (1.82-m) square openings with net backings and are 80 yd (73.15 m) apart. Each goal is centered in a circle 18 ft (5.48 m) in diameter called the goal crease. A lacrosse ball is made of India rubber, is slightly smaller than a baseball, and weighs about 5 oz (141.74 g). The length of the crosse depends on the position of the player: defensive players use a crosse that can be from 4.5 to 6 ft (1.3 to 1.8 m), while offensive players use one from 3.3 to 3.5 ft (1.0 to 1.1 m). Its net is walled on either one or both sides to form a pocket in which a player carries the ball. The crosse face is 6.5 to 10 in (16.5 to 25.4 cm) wide, depending on the player's position.
A men's lacrosse team consists of 10 players--3 attacks, 3 mid-fielders, 3 defenders, and 1 goalie. Players try to move the ball in the direction of the opponents' goal by carrying the ball with the crosse, passing it to a teammate by using a wrist-flipping motion, or kicking it. Only the goalie may use his hands to stop shots at the goal. Games are divided into four 25-minute periods, and in the event of a tie at the end of regulation play, two 4-minute overtime periods are played.
Women's lacrosse differs slightly from the men's games. Women's teams have 12 on a side, and there are restrictions on the amount of body contact and stick checking allowed.
Bibliography: Evans, G. Heberton, and Anderson, Robert E., Lacrosse Fundamentals (1966); Morrill, W. Kelso, Lacrosse, rev. ed. (1966); Scott, Bob, Lacrosse: Technique and Tradition (1976); Urick, David, Sports Illustrated Lacrosse (1988).
Copyright 1995 by Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc.
Lacrosse info. from Copyright 1995 Publishing, Inc.
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