Is Lacrosse An Olympic Sport? (Updated 2023)

LACROSSE OLYMPIC EVENTS

is lacrosse an olympic sport

is lacrosse an Olympic sport? Finally, after years of waiting, lacrosse, a sport originating in New York and Canada, will return to the Summer Olympics in 2028. After its debut at the Summer Olympics in 1904 (St. Louis) and later at the 1908 games (London),  lacrosse will appear in the Olympics for the third time in 2028 (Los Angeles).

History Of Lacrosse

The Haudenosaunee tribe, located in New York and Canada, were the creators of the sport in the 12th century, and have continued to pioneer the game. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy‘s involvement in World Lacrosse competitions is illustrative of the sport's continued significance to Native American culture. 

Europeans were first introduced to lacrosse in the 1600s through French missionaries watching Native Americans play the game. It evolved with stricter rules and eventually became the sport of Canada in 1859. In the coming decades, it spread through New England and Europe, becoming a popular sport. The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia were the pioneers in developing organized women's lacrosse in the 19th century. 

Several different international federations emerged in the 1970s, only to unify in 2008 under the shared goal of reentering the Olympic fold

What Modern Lacrosse Looks Like

Both men's and women's lacrosse will be played in sixes at the 2028 Olympics, a hybrid of field and box lacrosse that promises to be exceedingly fast and tight. It features a faster, more open style of play with rapid transitions and nonstop, high-scoring action, and welcomes players of all skill levels and experience levels to the sport of lacrosse. 

Sixes, developed in 2018, has facilitated worldwide expansion, boosted accessibility and friendliness, improved competitive balance, and decreased participation costs and event complexity. It's the game's evolution into the modern age.

Who Decides What Is An Olympic Sport?

World Lacrosse's goal of becoming an Olympic sport was achievable when the International Olympic Committee granted the sport provisional status in 2018. Following a thorough study and proposal procedure, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Monday that Sixes is one of five new sports to be included in the Olympic Games. Baseball, softball, cricket, flag football, and squash were among the other new sports included in the roster.

When deciding whether to accept a new sport, the International Olympic Committee considered factors including gender parity, athlete welfare, and ecological impact.

IOC President, Thomas Bach, stated that the selection of these five new sports was in keeping with American sports culture and would bring international sports to the United States while showcasing famous American sports across the globe.

Lacrosse Is One Of The Fastest Growing Sports

One of the factors that drove lacrosse to be considered is the exceptional expansion in the past two decades. The sports membership has doubled from 45 to 90 National Federations. There are teams from all five continents in the men's and women's top 10 in the global lacrosse rankings.  

Along with the two previous summers where lacrosse was a featured sport, there were multiple years (1928, 1932, and 1948) where the Summer Olympics included lacrosse demonstrations. A demonstration of a sport at the Olympics does not compete for a medal, but rather is played to show off and promote the sport to the viewers of the games. 

This is the major differentiation that will set apart the LA28 Olympics from previous ones. With them, the Olympic Movement can reach out to new communities of athletes and fans throughout the United States and the world.

Hard Work Pays Off

The inclusion of lacrosse signals a happy moment for several local stakeholders, like Johns Hopkins lacrosse great Paul Rabil, who had worked for years for the sport's return to the Olympics. Rabil's eight-team professional league, Premier Lacrosse League, aims to raise the sport's prominence.

The head of USA Lacrosse, the country's governing organization for the sport, is pleased with the verdict, according to CEO Marc Riccio. He remarked that after so many years of effort, it finally seems like we've made it to the end of the road.

The Premier Lacrosse League's 2024 Championship Series, which will include the league's top four teams, will serve as a preview of the sixes format to be contested at the LA 2028 Games.

This is the start of a wonderful new era. The Olympics provide our sport with the prominence and platform it needs to go to new heights.

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Connor Stifel

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