While ice hockey is Canada’s national winter sport, Canadians switch their sticks for playing the culture rich sport of lacrosse on the field in the summer. Lacrosse is a sport that spread to North America by the European which is based on a game played by Native Americans, in which they used sticks to lead a ball through the gap between two trees and the goals anywhere between 500 yards and several miles apart. In old time, the games could last up to three days with the participation of thousands of players with no boundaries and next to no rules except that players could not touch the ball with their hands. Let’s exploce Lacrosse: Canada’s National Summer Sport.
Lacrosse: Canada’s National Summer Sport
Lacrosse is a sport that preceded European colonization in North America. It is based on a game played by Native Americans, where sticks were used to drive a ball through the gap between two trees. Games could last up to three days and it was not unusual for thousands of players to partake. With the goals anywhere between 500 yards and several miles apart, play had no boundaries and few rules except that players could not touch the ball with their hands.
In 1636, a French Jesuit missionary, who witnessed a match involving Huron natives in the St. Lawrence Valley, became the first European to make a record of the sport. He called it ‘lacrosse’ the French word for a Bishop’s stick because he believed that the game’s curved implements resembled the religious prop. It was not until the 1840s that the game caught on among European settlers, but by 1856 the Montreal Lacrosse Club had been established, just three years before Parliament (in Britain) declared lacrosse the national game of Canada.
William George Beers, a member of the Montreal club, codified lacrosse’s rules in 1867 limiting the number of players to twelve on each team, replacing the native ball with one made of hard rubber and changing the stick to make throwing and catching the ball easier. Lacrosse became official events at the 1904 and 1908 summer Olympics, where teams from Canada, the USA and Great Britain competed. However, lacrosse failed to rouse enough international interest to remain as an Olympic event. In 1930, lacrosse mutated and box lacrosse, played on a covered ice hockey rink, was invented and widespread popularity across North America. Then, in 1994, the Canadian government recognised the sport’s as the country’s national summer sport.
Lacrosse enjoyed event status at the 1904 and 1908 summer Olympics, where teams from Canada, the USA and Great Britain competed. The game, however, did not rouse enough international interest to remain an Olympic event, although it did feature again at the Games as an exhibition sport in 1928, 1932 and 1948. In 1930, lacrosse mutated and box lacrosse, played on a covered ice hockey rink, was born. Ever since, both the original field lacrosse game and its indoor counterpart have enjoyed widespread popularity across North America. Then, in 1994, the Canadian government recognised the sport’s cultural and historical significance when it declared lacrosse to be the country’s national summer sport.
How to play
Lacrosse fields are 110 yards (100m) long and 60 yards (54m) wide, with the goals set 80 yards (73m) apart. The square goal posts are six feet high and wide, while there are specific stipulations on the length and width of the crosses (sticks) that may be used. Due to the very physical nature of the sport, all lacrosse players wear helmets, gloves and pads for protection, while the goalkeepers wear additional chest and throat shields. Only the goalkeepers may use their hands and although all players may kick or bat the ball, goals may only be scored when it is thrown from a crosse.
The sport is incredibly fast paced and players with the ball must ‘cradle’ it by rapidly rotating the stick in half turns to generate a centrifugal force which holds the ball in the pocket of the crosse. Defensive players may pressure the ballcarrier into making a poor pass, knock the ball from their crosse or intercept the ball when it is in the air. Lacrosse retains remnants of its violent history as a player may also jab, poke or slap the ballcarrier with their crosse to force an error. Barging a player in an attempt to throw them off balance or knock him down, however, is illegal. Each team fields ten players but there is no limit to the number of substitutions that may be made. Matches last for four periods of fifteen minutes each, with a ten minute halftime break and one minute intervals between quarters. If both teams are tied after sixty minutes, a five minute intermission follows before play resumes for two four minute periods.