After Surfing, Lacrosse is Number 1: Christopher Sugrue
August 07, 2014
Lacrosse at the University of North Carolina
|Highest governing body||Federation of International Lacrosse|
|First played||As early as the 12th century
Codified in 1869
|Team members||10 at a time 3 attack 3 midfielders 3 defenders 1 goalie|
|Equipment||Lacrosse stick, helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves|
|Olympic||Part in the Summer Olympic programme in 1904 and 1908
Demonstrated in the 1928, 1932 and 1948 Summer Olympics
Lacrosse is a team sport of First Nations Iroquois origin played using a small rubber ball and a long-handled stick called a crosse or lacrosse stick. It is often played as a contact sport. The head of the lacrosse stick is strung with loose mesh designed to catch and hold the lacrosse ball. Offensively, the objective of the game is to score by shooting the ball into an opponent's goal, using the lacrosse stick to catch, carry, and pass the ball to do so. Defensively, the objective is to keep the opposing team from scoring and to gain the ball through the use of stick checking and body contact or positioning. The sport has four major types: men's field lacrosse, women's lacrosse, box lacrosse and intercrosse. The sport consists of four positions: midfield, attack, defense, and goalie.
Lacrosse, today a marginally popular team sport in North America, may have developed as early as 1100 AD among indigenous peoples on the continent. By the seventeenth century, it was well-established. It was documented by Jesuit missionary priests in the territory of present-day Canada. The game has undergone many modifications since that time.
In the traditional aboriginal Canadian version, each team consisted of about 100 to 1,000 men on a field that stretched from about 500 meters to 3 kilometers long. These lacrosse games lasted from sunup to sundown for two to three days straight. These games were played as part of ceremonial ritual, a kind of symbolic warfare, to give thanks to the Creator or Master.
Lacrosse played a significant role in the community and religious life of tribes across the continent for many years. Early lacrosse was characterized by deep spiritual involvement, befitting the spirit of combat in which it was undertaken. Those who took part did so in the role of warriors, with the goal of bringing glory and honor to themselves and their tribes. The game was said to be played "for the Creator" or was referred to as "The Creator's Game."
The French Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf saw Iroquois tribesmen play the game during 1637 in present-day New York. He was the first European to write about the game. He called it la crosse ("the stick"). Some say the name originated from the French term for field hockey, le jeu de la crosse. Others suggest that it was named after the crosier, a staff carried by bishops that bears a similarity to the sticks used in the sport.
In 1856, William George Beers, a Canadian dentist, founded the Montreal Lacrosse Club. In 1867, Beers codified the game, shortening the length of each game and reducing the number of players to 12 per team. The first game played under Beers' rules was at Upper Canada College in 1867; they lost to the Toronto Cricket Club by a score of 3–1. By the 20th century, teams in high schools, colleges, and universities in Canada and the United States began playing the game.
Lacrosse was contested for medals in the 1904 and 1908 Olympics with teams from Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. It was contested as a demonstration sport in the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. On each occasion, a playoff was held in the United States to determine what team would go to the Olympics; each time the playoffs were won by the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays of the university in Baltimore, Maryland.
In the United States, lacrosse during the 1900s was primarily a regional sport centered around the East Coast, including states such as the following: Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. In the last half of the 20th century, the sport has continued growth west of this region, including the Midwest, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as the West of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, California, Oregon, and Washington.
At the highest amateur level, it is represented by the collegiate NCAA Division I in the United States. The first collegiate lacrosse program was established by New York University in 1877. Nearly 100 years later, the 1971 tournament was the first Men's Lacrosse Championship sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
In other countries, the sport is also played at a high level on the amateur level by the Australian Lacrosse League, the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association, and club lacrosse leagues internationally.
In 1998, a number of national lacrosse organizations in the United States merged to create US Lacrosse, a unified national governing body for men's and women's lacrosse in the United States. Headquartered in Baltimore, US Lacrosse seeks to provide a leadership role in virtually every aspect of the game.
In the summer of 2001, a men's professional field lacrosse league, known as Major League Lacrosse (MLL), was inaugurated in the United States. Initially starting with three teams, the MLL has grown to a current total of eight clubs located in major metropolitan areas in the United States. On July 4, 2008, Major League Lacrosse set the professional lacrosse attendance record: 20,116 fans attended a game at Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado.
Types of play
There are ten players on each team: three attackers, three midfielders, three defenders and one goalie.
Each player carries a lacrosse stick (or crosse). A "short crosse" (or "short stick") measures between 40 inches (1.0 m) and 42 inches (1.1 m) long (head and shaft together) and is typically used by attackers or midfielders. A maximum of four players per team may carry a "long crosse" (sometimes called "long pole", "long stick" or "d-pole") which is 52 inches (1.3 m) to 72 inches (1.8 m) long; typically used by defenders or midfielders.
The head of the crosse on both long and short crosses must be 6.5 inches (17 cm) or larger at its widest point. The throat of the lacrosse head for college must be at least 3 inches wide. For high school play, there is no minimum width at its narrowest point; the only provision is that the ball must roll out unimpeded. The designated goalkeeper is allowed to have a stick from 40 inches (1.0 m) to 72 inches (1.8 m) long and the head of a goalkeeper's crosse may measure up to 12 inches (30 cm) wide, significantly larger than field players' heads, to assist in blocking shots.
The field of play is 110 yards (100 m) long and 60 yards (55 m) wide. The goals are 6 feet (1.8 m) by 6 feet (1.8 m). The goal sits inside a circular "crease", measuring 18 feet (5.5 m) in diameter. Each offensive and defensive area is surrounded by a "restraining box." Each quarter, and after each goal scored, play is restarted with a face-off. During a face-off, two players lay their stick horizontally next to the ball, head of the stick inches from the ball and the butt-end pointing down the midfield line. Face-off-men scrap for the ball, often by “clamping” it under their stick and flicking it out to their teammates. Attackers and defenders cannot cross their “restraining line” until one player from the midfield takes possession of the ball or the ball crosses the restraining line. If a member of one team touches the ball and it travels outside of the playing area, play is restarted by awarding possession to the opposing team. During play, teams may substitute players in and out freely. Sometimes this is referred to as "on the fly" substitution. Substitution must occur within the designated exchange area (often called "the box") in order to be legal.
For most penalties, the offending player is sent to the penalty box, which is located between each team's bench. His team must play without the player for a designated amount of time based upon the foul. (Most penalties are "releasable", that is, the penalty ends when a goal is scored by the non-offending team.) Technical fouls (such as offsides and holding) result in either a turnover or a player's suspension of 30 seconds, while personal fouls are generally penalized one minute. (Some infractions, such as playing with a stick that does not meet the specifications of the designated level of play, may serve non-releasable penalties of up to three minutes). The team that has taken the penalty is said to be playing man down, while the other team is on the man up. Teams will use various lacrosse strategies to attack and defend while a player is being penalized. Offsides is penalized by a 30-second penalty. It occurs when there are more than 7 players on the defensive side of the field (three midfielders/three defensemen/one goalkeeper), or more than 6 players from one team on the offensive side of the field (three midfielders/three attack). The zones are separated by the midfield line.
Lacrosse at the Olympics was a medal-earning sport in the 1904 and 1908 Summer Olympics. Lacrosse was a demonstration sport in the 1928 and 1932 Summer Olympics, as well as at the 1948 Summer Olympics.
The men's professional Major League Lacrosse has used different field lacrosse rules from the international, college, and high school programs. With intentions to increase scoring, the league employed a sixty-second shot clock and a two–point goal for shots taken outside a designated perimeter. In 2007, the MLL was bolstered by a ten-year television contract with ESPN.
Up until the 1930s, all lacrosse was played on large fields outdoors. The owners of Canadian hockey arenas invented a reduced-size version of the game, called box lacrosse, as a means to make more profit from their arena investments, and because severe winter weather in many areas limits outdoor play.
Since 1985, when the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA) began operating a collegiate men's league, field lacrosse has witnessed a revival in Canada. There are now 12 varsity teams. In 1994, Canada declared lacrosse its national summer sport in the National Sports Act (Bill C-212).
In 1987, a men's professional box lacrosse league was started, called the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League. This league changed its name to the Major Indoor Lacrosse League, then later to the National Lacrosse League. It grew to encompass men's lacrosse clubs in 14 cities throughout the United States and Canada.
Box lacrosse is played by teams of six on a hockey rink where the ice has been removed or covered by artificial turf, or in an indoor soccer or lacrosse field. The enclosed playing area is called a box, in contrast to the open playing field of the traditional game. This version of the game was introduced in the 1930s to promote business for hockey arenas, and within several years had nearly supplanted field lacrosse in Canada.
Box lacrosse is played at the highest level by the Senior A divisions of the Canadian Lacrosse Association and the National Lacrosse League (NLL). The National Lacrosse League employs some minor rule changes from the Canadien Lacrosse Association (CLA) rules. Notably, the games are played during the winter. The NLL games consist of four fifteen-minute quarters compared with three periods of twenty minutes each (similar to ice hockey) in CLA games (multiple 15-minute OT periods for tied games, until whoever scores first). NLL players may use only sticks with hollow shafts, while CLA permits solid wooden sticks.:
The goals in box lacrosse are much smaller than field lacrosse, traditionally 4 feet (1.2 m) wide by 4 feet (1.2 m) tall in box, and 4.6 feet (1.4 m) wide by 4 feet (1.2 m) tall in the NLL. Also, the goaltender wears much more protective padding, including a massive chest protector and armguard combination known as "uppers", large shin guards known as leg pads (both of which must follow strict measurement guidelines), and ice hockey-style masks or lacrosse helmets. Also, at the professional level, box lacrosse goaltenders often use traditional wooden sticks outside of the NLL, which does not allow wooden sticks. This makes Box Lacrosse faster and rougher than the traditional Field Lacrosse.
The style of the game is quick, accelerated by the close confines of the floor and a shot clock. The shot clock requires the attacking team to take a shot on goal within 30 seconds of gaining possession of the ball. In addition, players must advance the ball from their own defensive end to the offensive side of the floor within 10 seconds.
Box lacrosse is also a much more physical game. Since cross checking is legal in box lacrosse, players wear rib pads in addition to the shoulder and elbow pads that field lacrosse players wear. Box lacrosse players wear a different type of helmet as well, a hockey helmet with a box lacrosse cage.
For most penalties, the offending player is sent to the penalty box and his team has to play without him (thus lacking one player) for a short amount of time. Most penalties last for two minutes, unless a five-minute major penalty has been assessed. What separates box lacrosse (and ice hockey) from other sports is that at the top levels of professional and junior lacrosse, a five-minute major penalty is given and the players are not ejected for participating in a fight.
The rules of women's lacrosse differ significantly from men's lacrosse, most notably by equipment and the degree of allowable physical contact. Women's lacrosse rules also differ significantly between the US and all other countries, who play by the Federation of International Lacrosse, or FIL, rules. Women's lacrosse does not promote physical contact, primarily because the only protective equipment worn for this sport is a mouth guard sometimes and face guard (mandatory in the United States, optional internationally) and thin gloves. Stick checking (with several rules applied), and not body checking as in men's lacrosse, is permitted in the women's game, but only in certain levels of play. Sometimes checking can lead to body checking; while this is still not permitted in a women's game, some referees will allow limited body checking. Women's lacrosse also does not allow players to have a pocket, or loose net, on the lacrosse stick.
The first modern women's lacrosse game was held at St Leonards School in Scotland in 1890. It was introduced by the school's headmistress Louisa Lumsden after a visit to Quebec, where she saw it played. The first women's lacrosse team in the United States was established at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland in 1926. Men’s and women’s lacrosse were played under virtually the same rules, with no protective equipment, until the mid-1930s.
Both the number of players on the field, as well as the general set up of the field, differ from men's lacrosse. In women's lacrosse there are 3 defensive players, five mid-fielders, three attack players and one goalie per team, as opposed to men's lacrosse, where there are only three mid-fielders. Also, women players must abide by certain boundaries that do not exist in men's play. The three specific boundaries are the 8-meter "fan" in front of the goal (11 meters internationally), the 12-meter (15 meters internationally) half circle that surrounds the 8-meter half circle, and the draw circle in the center of the field, which is used for the women's version of "face-offs", known as "draws". The goal circle is also positioned slightly closer to the end line in women's lacrosse, compared to men's. In women's lacrosse on either the offensive or defensive end, the players are not able to step inside the goal circle for any reason, except when the goalkeeper has stepped out of the circle and one defensive player has stepped in as her deputy; this becomes a "goal-circle violation". However, at the women's collegiate level, a new rule has been established that allows defenders to pass through the goal circle.
Internationally, the game is commonly played in British girls' independent schools. While a minor sport in Australia, it is played to a very high standard at the elite level. Women's lacrosse has seen significant growth in Europe since the beginning of the 21st century, particularly in Germany, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. Japan entered its first team into the World Cup in 1993, and South Korea followed suit in 2009. In 2012, the first Israeli international team competed in the European Championships in Amsterdam.
The Australia national squad won the 2005 Women's Lacrosse World Cup. The 2009 Women's World Cup was played in Prague, Czech Republic, won by the United States, and the 2013 World Cup was played in Oshawa, Canada, again won by the United States.
Lacrosse in the United States is played at the collegiate level in both the club and sanctioned team sport. There are currently 87 and 3/4 NCAA sanctioned Division I men's lacrosse teams, 46 Division II men's lacrosse teams, and 189 Division III men's lacrosse teams. There are also currently 91 Division I women's lacrosse teams, 57 Division II women's lacrosse Teams, and 201 Division III women's lacrosse teams. 209 collegiate men's club teams compete at the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association level, including most major universities in the United States. Another 107 schools have club teams in the National College Lacrosse League.
The first U. S. intercollegiate game was played on November 22, 1877 between New York University and Manhattan College. Lacrosse had been introduced in upstate New York in the 1860s. Lacrosse was further introduced to the Baltimore area in the 1890s. These two areas continue to be the hotbeds of college lacrosse in the U.S. The first intercollegiate lacrosse tournament was held in 1881, with Harvard beating Princeton, 3-0, in the championship game.
The NCAA men's Lacrosse Division I in 1971, when Cornell took the first championship over Maryland, 12–6. Johns Hopkins has 9 championships with three consecutive wins from 1978 to 1980. The other two teams that have three consecutive wins are Syracuse from 1988 to 1990 and Princeton from 1996 to 1998. Syracuse also holds the NCAA record of championships with 11, the last occurring in 2009. In 2013 Duke beat Syracuse to claim the NCAA Division I Championship in Philadelphia. The Division I national championship tournament draws one of the largest crowds of any Division I NCAA sport.
The NCAA men's Lacrosse Division III is growing at a much faster rate than Division I. There are currently 208 Division III teams playing in 25 different conferences in 2013, compared to 130 teams in 2005. Stevenson University was the 2013 Division III national champion.
There is also the MCLA. This is Mens Club Lacrosse Association. It is played at schools that do not have a NCAA lacrosse team. The 2012 Division I MCLA champion was Colorado State University and Division II was won by the University of St. Thomas.
NCAA women's Lacrosse Division I began play in 1982. The University of Maryland, College Park has traditionally dominated the women's intercollegiate play, producing many head coaches across the country and many U.S. national team players. The Terrapins won seven consecutive NCAA championships, from 1995 through 2001. Princeton University's women's teams have made it to the final game seven times since 1993 and have won three NCAA titles, in 1993, 2002, and 2003. In recent years, Northwestern University has become a force, winning the national championship from 2005 through 2009. Maryland ended Northwestern's streak by defeating the Wildcats in the 2010 final, however Northwestern has since won the 2011 and 2012 national titles. Maryland again claimed the national championship in 2014.
Major League Lacrosse
Major League Lacrosse (MLL) is a Professional lacrosse league founded in 1999 in the United States that showcases the world's best players. The season consists of 56 games running from April to August. MLL uses standard lacrosse rules with several exceptions, such as a 16-yard 2-point line and a 60-second shot clock. Regular season play began in 2001 with 6 teams, with plans to expand to 19 teams. The MLL currently has 8 teams: Boston, Annapolis, New York City, Rochester, Denver, Columbus, Charlotte, and Palm Beach County (formerly Hamilton).
Lacrosse has been played for the most part in Canada and the United States, with small but dedicated lacrosse communities in the United Kingdom and Australia. Recently, however, lacrosse has begun to flourish at an international level, with teams being established particularly in Europe and east Asia.
With lacrosse not having been an official Olympic sport since 1908, the pinnacle of international lacrosse competition consists of the quadrennial World Championships. Begun in 1968, world championships began as a four-team invitational tournament sponsored by the International Lacrosse Federation. Until 1986, lacrosse world championships had been contested only by the US, Canada, England, and Australia. Scotland and Wales had teams competing in the women's edition. They are now held for lacrosse at senior men, senior women, under 19 men and under 19 women levels.
With the expansion of the game internationally, the 2006 Men's World Championship was contested by 21 countries and the Iroquois Nationals, representing the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. They are the only Native American/First Nations team to compete internationally. The 2009 Women's World Cup was competed for by 16 nations.
In 2003, the first World Indoor Lacrosse Championship was contested by six nations at four sites in Ontario. Canada won the championship in a final game against the Iroquois Nationals, 21-4. The 2007 WILC was held in Halifax from May 14–20, and also won by Canada. Competition included the Iroquois Nationals and teams from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, England, Ireland, Scotland, and the United States.
The World Lacrosse Championships have been dominated by the United States, particularly in the men's game. Its only world championship game losses at either level was in the 1978 final and 2006 final, both to Canada. The USA has won 9 of the 11 senior men's and all six under-19 men's tournaments to date.
In the women's game, Australia has provided stiffer competition, having won 6 of 14 games against the USA at senior world championships, including one draw. The USA has won 6 of the 8 senior women's, and 2 of the 3 under-19 women's tournaments to date, with the other world championships won by Australia.
The Iroquois Nationals are a team with members representing the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. The team was admitted to the International Lacrosse Federation (ILF) in 1990. It is the only First Nations team sanctioned to compete in any sport internationally. The Nationals placed fourth in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Lacrosse Championships. In 2008, the Iroquois were admitted as the Haudenosunee Nation to the International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations (IFWLA), since merged with the FIL (see below).
Federation of International Lacrosse
One obstacle to the international development of lacrosse had been separate governing bodies for the men's and women's versions of the sport. Men's lacrosse was governed by ILF and the women's version by IFWLA. In August 2008, after four years of negotiation, the two bodies merged to form a single unified body, the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL). All championships previously operated by the ILF and IFWLA were taken over by the FIL. The FIL hosted the 2010 World Lacrosse Championship in Manchester, England, between July 15 to 24, 2010. The 2014 World Lacrosse Championship will be held in Denver, Colorado, US.
Internationally, as of 2013, a total of 47 members belong to the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL). Only the United States, Canada, Australia, and the Iroquois Nationals have finished in the top three places at the World Lacrosse Championships.
Internationally, the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships are held every four years and are also sponsored by the FIL. Only eight nations have competed so far. Canada, the Iroquois Nationals and the United States have finished in the most coveted 1st, 2nd and 3rd places at these events.
European Lacrosse Foundation
The next largest international field lacrosse competition are the European Lacrosse Championships, held for both men and women's teams. Since 1995, the European Lacrosse Federation (ELF) has been running the European Championships. Before 2001 they held the Championships annually, but that year the ELF changed the format to every four years, between the World Championships. Before 2004, only seven nations had ever participated.
In 2004 a record number of countries participated, fielding 12 men's and 6 women's teams, making it the largest international lacrosse event of the year. In 2008 the European Lacrosse Championships were held in Lahti, Finland, with 18 competing countries. England placed first with the Netherlands and Germany placing second and third, respectively. The most recent ELF Championships were held in Amsterdam in 2012. England was victorious over Ireland in the championship game, and Sweden took third place. 32 nations compete now in the international lacrosse championships for the year 2014