What is the history of Lacrosse? What are its origins? Where did Lacrosse come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Lacrosse.
Lacrosse is a team sport in which the object of the game is to outscore the opponent by successfully throwing the ball past the goalie (using a specially designed lacrosse stick with webbing to secure the ball) and into the opponent's net. Most lacrosse games are played for 60 minutes, with the time being divided evenly into four 15-minute quarters. Games are played in a rectangular field that measures 110 yards long and anywhere from 53-60 yards wide.
Each team is required to have ten players on the field at any given time. Generally speaking, one of these players is the goalie while the others are labeled defenders, attackers or midfielders depending on each player's individual skill set and tendencies.
Only the goalie is allowed to make hand contact with the ball. All other players must catch, throw and run with the ball using their sticks. Other common lacrosse violations include goalie interference (hitting the goalie's stick or intentionally interfering with the goalie's sight line in order to score), offsides (having too many players on the offensive half of the field) and illegally body checking a defenseless opponent.
Lacrosse (commonly referred to as 'stickball' at the time) originates from Canada. More specifically, the sport hails from the St. Lawrence Valley area, which forms the border between the province of Quebec and several northeastern U.S. states. While lacrosse was technically started in Canada, it quickly expanded to the western Great Lakes portion of the United States, where modern rule adaptations and gameplay were eventually developed.
There is no single individual that is credited with the invention of lacrosse. Instead, a Native American variation of the sport was first introduced by members of the Algonquian tribe that occupied much of southeastern Canada at the time. Games were generally unorganized, with loose rules and hundreds of men from surrounding villages congregating to play each day.
There are, however, several individuals who added certain elements to lacrosse and documented it for the surrounding world. For example, French colonist Jean de Brebeuf gave lacrosse its official name, while explorer James Smith wrote about his fascination with the sticks, balls and hoops that were constructed to play each game.
Although it is likely that Native American villagers had been playing some version of lacrosse for much of the 17th century, the sport was not officially documented until de Brebeuf did so in 1636. Modern elements of lacrosse were established over 200 years later when Williams Beers caught wind of the sport and founded the Montreal Lacrosse Club, along with a standard set of rules, many of which still prevail today.
Lacrosse started to become popular towards the end of the 19th century, at which point modern adaptations (i.e. timed games, 10 player per team limit) had been formed and several countries began to adopt the sport. The sport continued to see an increase in popularity leading up to 1904, when lacrosse made its debut as a Summer Olympic sport, although it was a brief appearance and the sport has yet to become a consistently featured Olympic event.
Listed below are the countries that play lacrosse the most. The five countries in which lacrosse is most popular are ranked in order, with the average number of participants and events taken into account. It is worth noting that while lacrosse is currently played in several nations worldwide and still expanding into new areas of the globe, it is still most popular in Canada and the United States by a wide margin.
The following timeline provides a concise overview of the key facts and events in the known history of lacrosse to date.