The History of Lacrosse

The official summer sport of Canada has become a draw at top universities.

Lacrosse is one of the most versatile sports, with four different versions that promote inclusion by encouraging women and providing reasonable accommodation to people with disabilities as established in the Ontario Lacrosse Association General Inclusion Policy.

The sport has become popular in higher education facilities such as the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Toronto (U of T) and Harvard University. Additionally, many colleges in the United States have added lacrosse to their sports programs, with the hope of attracting more students.

Hiram College in Ohio recently added lacrosse to their sports program. In an interview for the website Cleveland.com, Timothy Bryan assistant to the college president said, “…more and more of our students are asking for it. Most [lacrosse players] are very sound academically and come from very good schools. It is a buyer’s market and they are looking for a great education and to continue in a sport they love.”

The sport was played by First Nations people as early as 1100 AD. Each nation had its own version of the game, however, they all played to show gratitude and for religious purposes. According to the CBC, at one time there were up to 1,000 Indigenous people playing the game and it was of high cultural importance.

In the early 17th century, French settlers in Montreal observed Indigenous people playing the game known as baggataway by the Algonquin people, while the Iroquois Nation called it tewaarathon. The French labelled the game lacrosse, comparing the stick used to play with a bishop’s crozier. In French crozier means cross.

In 1867, William George Beers, a Canadian dentist who played lacrosse, created a pamphlet explaining the goals and rules of the game. He promoted this information during a convention in Kingston, Ont. During the convention, he also campaigned to have lacrosse named Canada’s national game, but he was unsuccessful.

Today, he is known as the father of modern lacrosse for mobilizing and bringing attention to the game. Due to his efforts, lacrosse became a popular summer sport in Canada.

The Lacrosse Association of Canada was created the same year Beers pamphlet was distributed and in 1994 the game became Canada’s official summer sport.

Today lacrosse’s four different versions include field lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, box lacrosse and intercrosse. The National Lacrosse League consists of 13 teams, eight in the United States and five in Canada.

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