Lacrosse is a game that is played in few countries other than the United States. As a result, it is poorly understood on a global level, but certainly one that many people are interested in. This is true not in the least because the game is featured so often in Hollywood movies. Stephen Varanko III has enjoyed the game for many years and is now somewhat of an expert on the subject. He feels it is time that people outside of the United States start to understand this wonderful game, effectively raising its international profile.
Stephen Varanko III on Lacrosse
Lacrosse is believed to have originated in the early 17th century and, while it may not be popular on a global level, the Federation of International Lacrosse does oversee the game. It is a team sport that is played with a ball and stick. There are also different versions of the game and players wear protective equipment that is suitable for their particular version. The game was featured at the 1904 and 1908 Summer Olympics and demonstrations were held at the 1928, 1932, and 1948 Summer Olympics, but it didn’t take off.
There are four versions of the game:
- Box lacrosse.
- Women’s lacrosse.
- Field lacrosse.
Box (indoor) and field (outdoor) lacrosse are played by men and are contact sports. This means players wear extensive protective gear. In the women’s version, body contact is not allowed, but stick to stick contact is. Hence, women only have to wear protective eyewear. Goalies also wear protective pads ad helmets. Intercrosse, meanwhile, is one of the rare games in which the genders are mixed. This is also a non-contact version of the game, whereby the ball is softer and the sticks are plastic.
Lacrosse is popular in America because its origins are Native American. It was developed by the Iroquois tribe in Pennsylvania and New York. When the Jesuit priests came to America and Canada in the 17th century, they documented it and wrote down the rules. At the same time, they changed the rules so that the game would be easier to understand for others. Originally, a team would consist of between 100 and 1,000 players and the field would be between 500m and 3km long. The game would last for the entire time the sun was up and could take as much as three days to play. It was very much a ceremonial sport rather than an athletic pursuit, in other words.
Lacrosse was originally a game in which the Native Americans celebrated their Creator, demonstrating that they were worthy warriors. French Jesuits were particularly fascinated by it and adapted it to be played in Europe and the American colonies, something that took off very rapidly. Indeed, by the start of the 20th century, people were playing it all over Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. Today, this popularity continues, albeit still only in those countries that have strong historical ties with North America. Whether this will ever change is unclear.