Many of us may have seen lacrosse over the years. Especially thanks to it being the sport of choice in many movies. However, what started the game of running around a field with sticks? To discover the origins of lacrosse, we are going to have to take a step back in time.
The roots of lacrosse
Amazingly, the sport first appeared back in the 1600s. Native Americans are the first recorded people to play the game, which was known as “stickball” at the time. Much like today, the game involved a ball and sticks – smart, huh? However, there were some major differences to the sport we know today. The goals in the game were defined by natural objects such as trees or rocks meaning there was no end to how wide a goal could be. As if that wasn’t enough, the pitches could be anywhere from a few hundred feet to miles apart. With such a large field, there was no limit on how many people could compete on each team. There are reports that some games had up to 100,000 people!
Developing the rules
Throughout the 1600s and 1700s, Native Americans took the sport very seriously. In fact, tribes would use stickball to settle disputes, as well as develop their spirit and get ready for war. As time went on, so did the game. By the 19th century, lacrosse had gained its name and was slowly spreading across the world. In 1856, a Canadian dentist started the Montreal Lacrosse Club. The new group meant plenty of restrictions, including limiting the number of players on each team in addition to what materials could be used for the equipment. Shortly after the club’s formation, Canada announced lacrosse as their national sport. It wasn’t long before England caught wind of the new craze either.
Although the sticks and balls have always been a part of the game, they haven’t always looked as they do now. In fact, they used to be completely different. The teams used to use wooden sticks that measured up to 4-foot long. Plus, these only had a small area at the end they could use to catch the ball. To improve their equipment, many players would attach wolf fur or feather to their sticks in the hopes of having better chances of catching the ball. Talking of the ball, these also used to be entirely different. Back at the beginnings of the sport, many would use wood or animal hide to make the balls rather than the hard rubber used nowadays.
The equipment has undergone some drastic changes, and the rules have been modified, but the primary goal of the game has remained the same for the last 400 years. Nowadays, the sticks are much shorter, and teams are made up of ten players. Competitions, such as the Lacrosse World Championships, have been set up to find the best of the best from clubs all around the world. Plus, there are several variations of the sport, including women’s and men’s, indoor lacrosse, and mini lacrosse. Although each game comes with its own set of rules, there is always the same aim of scoring more goals than the other team.
This sport has been on quite the journey over the years. Although the game is now a highly competitive sport, it would be great to see a pitch and team size back from the origins of lacrosse. While we can still dream, at least we now know where one of our favorite sports came from all those years ago. Who could have guessed?