History of Lacrosse - Who Invented Lacrosse?
Lacrosse was a game played by the Native American Indians
that was originally known as stickball. It was discovered
by French settlers who named it after the crosier, as some suggest. Since a
netted racquet is used to hit the ball. it is easily differentiated from
other team sports. (Etc. team hokey and shinny).
The origin of lacrosse is rooted in religious customs of Native tribes who saw it as a
tool to resolve wars, heal sick people, develop endurance and strength
of male population
. Big events like lacrosse were played in large areas, and it is believed
that anywhere between 100 and 1,000 players could
participate in one game.
The events were played in huge areas between villages, and the goals would
range from 500 yards (460m) to 6 miles apart. The main rule was that the ball must not be touched with the hands. Other than that,
the rules were simple, and there were no boundaries. Trees and rock were
mostly used to mark the goals, but in later years these
were wooden posts. The beginning of the game was indicated
by the ball tossed in the air and players would rush to catch it first. The
ball used for lacrosse was not of standardized size. It would range between
a tennis ball and a softball. According to sources, balls were made of deer
hides filled with animal hair, however, some Indian tribes used wooden
balls. The game used to be very violent, often causing broken limbs and,
not uncommonly, deaths due to head blows.
Some French colonists were amongst the first to witness lacrosse being
played by Native American Indians almost 400 years ago. In 1636 the
Frenchman Jean de Brébeuf was one of the first white to write about
lacrosse. The contest that he observed was called Huron which is now
located in Ontario, Canada. Not so long after, colonists began to show
great interest in the game. Being impressed by the level of engagement,
speed and rough play, soldiers started to wager between each other and pick
their favorite players.
Players were traditionally involved in rituals prior to the game. Their faces and bodies would be decorated with paints and, as
would the stick racks. The shaman (medicine man) had a
crucial role in preparing the rituals and holding a dance on the night before the game. He used the comb-like
object made of turkey leg bone to scratch the players’ bodies and he would
repeatedly inflict wounds with the comb until the certain amount of blood
drops fell down an opponent’s elbow.
was one the primary purposes of playing lacrosse. It was a tool of diplomacy in early days. That is how tribes used
to resolve territorial disputes and cultivate political fellowships. Since
a persistent warfare was not the best answer, tribes would set a date for
lacrosse at convenient times.
Lacrosse appealed to tradition and set strong foundations for stability
within community. Tribes were creating myths of first ball game that was
played by the gods themselves. According to those stories the ball
symbolized the sun and the moon moving across the sky.
It was the summer of 1763 when Sauk and Ojibway people started forging out
a plan to recapture Fort Michilimackinac from British, who were at that
time at war with France. Since the two Indian tribes preferred French
trading practices to English ones, they thought of
organizing a lacrosse game in order to distract British soldiers
. The Natives set the date which was on the same day of king’s birthday
because the soldiers were not to be on duty but to be entertained by public
wagering. When the game began the players from both teams took the weapons
from the women spectating the game, attacked the British soldiers and
recaptured the fort. This event is considered the day when lacrosse defeated the empire.
Lacrosse has greatly chanced since the Natives played it in 15th and 16th
century. Many rules has been introduced to the game and the idea is to have
fun and enjoy recreational competition with friends. The size of the filed
today is only about 100 yards instead of many miles long. The goals are no
longer made of rocks and wood. The standard is 6 by 6 feet goal. Also, the
number of players is set to 10 at a time instead of hundreds
, but sometimes there can be 6, depending of the style of lacrosse. Over
the last 10 years the sport has seen a significant increase of players in
the USA, especially participants who are 15 and under.
The equipment used in lacrosse has undergone some major modifications.
While Native tribes didn’t use any pads at all, presently players wear them
on shoulders and arms. The helmets and mouth guards are also worn. In the
past, the sticks were made of wood, but today they are being made of
various metal. such as aluminum and scandium. The heads of lacrosse sticks
have also greatly evolved. They used to be part of the entire stick – also
made of wood – but now they are created out of plastic molded into various
shapes for better handling. Long time ago lacrosse was played in the plains
of the New World in the 16th century, while today people watch or play
lacrosse in stadiums.
Apart from the eastern United States and Canada, the game is now becoming
popular from coast to coast nationally and in other countries worldwide:
England, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Czech, Wales, France, South
Korea, Sweden, etc.
The father of modern lacrosse is considered to be, at the time, a young
dentist named William George Beers. In September 1860, he
made efforts to set new instructions and rules for Lacrosse, which had had
no written regulations. Additionally, he decided to replace the deerskin ball with one made of hard rubber.
The first modern appearance of lacrosse was in England in 1867, when 16
players along with Captain W.B. Johnson traveled for an exhibition game in
the town of Fulham, near London. Majority of the players were Native
Americans from the Iroquois nation, however, some other nationalities were
represented on the team as well.
The myth that lacrosse is the Canadian national sport still is still
echoing. Most likely due to the fact that Beer was so fascinated with the
sport that he campaigned for it to become the national game, although
during Confederation period, cricket was the most popular sport in the on
the continent. In 1867 Beers claimed that the Parliament had made Lacrosse
the national sport, and though many people in Canada believed him there
were no evidence that Lacrosse had been proclaimed as the national sport of
The first women’s lacrosse game was organized in the last
decade of 19th century in Scotland. Prior to that, there was an attempt to
start the women’s lacrosse in Virginia in 1914, but it eventually failed.
Miss Rosabelle Sinclair formed the first women’s lacrosse team in the
United States at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland.
Women played Lacrosse in Victoria, Australia, in 1936. However, due to the
unsuitable circumstances, the Australian Women’s Lacrosse Council was not
founded until 1962.
The same rules were applied for both men’s and women’s lacrosse offering no
protective equipment, until the mid-1930s. From that period, men’s lacrosse
started to evolve rapidly, while women had to obey the game’s original
The box lacrosse is an indoor version of
the game that originates from Canada. Not much after it was introduced it
became a prominent sport in the country. mostly due to harsh winters which
prevented the outdoor play.