Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in our country and one of the oldest. Originating in the 1600s, almost 300 years before the start of American Football and Baseball, Lacrosse is gaining in popularity and expense. It is understanding that lacrosse has been adapted over the decades to improve interest and attention rates, but the cultural shift changes the whole perspective of the game. What was once a religious and cultural practice by the Iroquois is not a multimillion dollar investment for the upper middles class American.
The major differences between Native Lacrosse and Collegiate Lacrosse are rooted in purpose, equipment and cost. The Iroquois played this religious ritual in preparation for war and to train young boys in their tribe. Lacrosse players of today are passionate, hard working and disciplined and fight to entertain fans, beat their competition and reach for a scholarship. Both styles of lacrosse require athleticism and perseverance as well as preparation and reliance on teamwork. Equipment differs from material to design. Native lacrosse was a stick and a skin ball while University lax equipment evolves every year from angles of stick heads to material of shooting strings. Lacrosse of today is considered a “rich man’s” sport considering equipment and team costs, while native lacrosse was required for every boy of a tribe to pick up if they wanted to be considered a man and even for some tribes, encouraged for the women to play as well.
Although the number of players and length of the field differ, you can see a lot of similarities between Native and modern day lacrosse, especially women’s lacrosse. Native lacrosse permitted more physical contact and body checking, but both have very similar pocket shapes for catching and throwing. Both women’s and native lacrosse require more finess and passing opposed to men’s lacrosse with deeper pockets, require more speed and agility. Native sticks are so similar to women’s sticks and require the same skill set, that they are still permitted in modern day play.
As a D3 lacrosse player, I was very excited to begin this writing assignment. I am very passionate about my sport, so I thought it was important to know where it came from and how it has evolved through the years. Especially with the issues involving the Dakota Access Pipeline right now, the adoption of Native lacrosse into the sport that it is today is rooted in issues. Once the sport was adopted by America, native teams weren’t even allowed to participate at the professional level until the 80s, even though they had invented and had been playing the sports decades and maybe even hundreds of years before that.
I found it interesting and I am appreciative of this class that I was able to dive into the growth of this amazing sport. I think that since this sport was created for spiritual purposes by Native Americans and is now one of the fastest growing sports in the Western Hemisphere could spark up a lot of conversation and growth. Anyone can be an athlete and be part of a team, maybe a sport like this that has so much history can be a first step in bringing people together, whether that’s striking up a dispute about faults or a conversation to move forward. Learning about the rich history of sports and how they came to be a pass time that is so saturated within the human culture could bring a lot of people from around the world together.