by SASHA RISKO Staff Writer
Lacrosse is played by young boys and girls everywhere, but little do they know that its origin dates all the way back to the Native Americans.
It originated in Mesoamerica and Canada in the 17th century. To the Native Americans, it was not called lacrosse. It ranged from names such as dehuntshigwa’es to tewaarathon, depending on the language and tribe.
The games often included 100 to 1,000 players, and sometimes were major events that could last for numerous days at a time. They were played in the open plains between villages, and the goals would range from 500 yards to several miles apart.
Rules for the game were not decided until the day before the game.
Players had certain rituals before the match, and those rituals were often associated with war rituals. They would decorate their bodies with paint and charcoals, and spend the night singing and dancing.
Before each game, every player was supposed to make a wager. Sometimes even children and wives would be at stake. The things that were wagered were then divided fairly among the winning team’s members.
Lacrosse balls were typically made out of wood, but sometimes were made of deerskin stuffed with hair. The first lacrosse sticks were giant wooden spoons with no netting. In these traditional lacrosse games, no protective equipment was worn.
In 1637, in what is now New York, French missionary Jean de Brebeuf saw a tribe playing the game. He was the first European to write about the game, calling it la crosse, meaning “the stick”, giving it the name that we all know today.
William Beers, a Canadian dentist, shortened the game in 1867 and modified it for 12 players.
From then on, more and more states started picking up the game, and high schools, colleges and universities in Canada and the U.S. started playing the sport.
In the 1900s, lacrosse was more of a regional sport, played mostly around the East Coast in states such as Virginia and New Jersey. Then in the 20th century, it expanded all the way to the West Coast.
Lacrosse made its Olympic debut in 1904, with only Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain competing for medals.
As the sport got more popular, a number of lacrosse organizations in the U.S. decided to come together to form US Lacrosse, which basically governed men’s and women’s lacrosse across the states.
In 2001, a professional lacrosse league known as Major League Lacrosse (MLL) was formed in the U.S., composed of eight clubs located in big cities across the nation.
Lacrosse leagues are forming in other countries across the world, such as the Australian Lacrosse League and the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association.
Lacrosse is loved and played by many, but not many people know about the origins of the sport itself.
What do you find most interesting about the history of lacrosse?