Origin of Lacrosse

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Lacrosse is popularly known to be Canada’s official summer sport that many people have played at some time in their lives. It was one of the many types of games that constituted indigenous stickball games that were common among the American Indians following the settling by the Europeans. It is an action packed game that constitutes ten players for the men and twelve for the women. The Cardinal rule in all type of lacrosse is that one is not permitted to touch the ball with their hands The playing mechanism involves players using sticks with ends that have nets to throw the ball to their team partners and moving to the opponent goal and scoring. It is the reason it is described as the fastest sport that is played on two feet because of the way the ball moves and the ace of the players. The name lacrosse has also been of significant analysis because it is purposeful in nature and was named based on the historical sticks used at the time. Before being named lacrosse as it is known today the Algonquin would describe it as the tewaarathon (The Lacrosse Network | TLN). It is thus believed that the naming came through the French settlers who came with the stick that resembled the staff that would be carried by the clergymen in the church. The stick was called the crozier, which was termed as the crosse in French. I was thus common for the settlers to watch the indigenous playing the game and it is when they decided to name it the “la crosse” that was later modified to lacrosse. 

    There is uncertainty regarding the invention of lacrosse because of the paucity of literature describing its origin. It is however, agreed that the First Nations people had been known to play the game in Canada almost 500 years’ age. It is thus critical to examine the factors that made the colonists to be much interested in the game of lacrosse. One key event was the summer of 1763 where the British and the French would engage in a Seven Years’ War where the Fox played the Ojibwa at Fort Michilimackinac that is the present day Michigan (College Sports Scholarships). The soldiers who were present at the event became fascinated by the rough nature of the play and the speedy way in which the players engaged in back-and-forth movements (McCulloch and Bach Jr. 29). It is then that they began to wager just as the Indian spectators. They became so focused in the play that they were not aware of the Indian women had been stealing from them and taking their weapons into the fort and taking them to the ring of spectators. It was then that the Indians dropped the sticks, took up the weapons and started massacring the foreign spectators who were present at the event (Athnet).
The game has long been used by people when they were thankful for the life and gifts that they had been rewarded by nature. Even though all the nations had varying rules and played the game differently, they all shared the feature of playing it as a way of giving thanks to the Great Spirit, Gichi-manidoo that was living in Anishinaabe. It was thus known to be a game of fun, as an input during festivals and it was sometimes used as a basis for settling disputes between different tribes (Scoop). In other occasion, it would be used for preparation for wars or before engaging in battles because of the physical nature of the game. Apart from being used as a form of recreation, it was also a part of the Indian culture (Natera). It is believed that its origin and rooted in legend and it is still a key element considering its curative purposes in the Indian perspective. It is also believed that the game was a part of vent aggression, and would occasionally be used for settling disputes as the parties involved would be expected to engage in a game. One significant example of such a scenario was the 1790 Creek versus Choctaw game that was designed to establish the rights over the controversial bever pond that ended in a violent battler following the declaration that the Creeks were the supposed winners. Thus even though most of the games would end peacefully, an equally large number of the ceremonialism in the preparation and performing of rituals meant that the players would engage in matches identical to those that people would participate in before a warpath (Vennum). 
        The playing style of lacrosse has changed over time from the manner in which people would play it in the past. The First Nations were the first to play it and it constituted a wooden ball that was later advanced to a ball that was made for deerskin and filled with fur. A new wool then be used to top the stick with the preferred material being a deer sinew. The other change that the game has undergone over time is that number of players who would play it because initially, it was not a ten-player game and it was not defined that they would play for one-hour (Claydon). It is supposed that there were no set number those who would be admitted in a single game. It is also supposed that the games were composed of up to 1000 players who came from different villages and would engage in many days of playing. It thus meant that the field length was also open in nature and there was no limit as it would change to suit the area that was available for playing (Aveni). Rather than the 100-meter length that is known today, the width was initially about 460 meters while the length would be several kilometers. It thus meant that the lacrosse games were used to be played during the huge events. At the women were not known to participate in it but instead, they had a related version of it called the amtahcha that was played with shorter sticks compared to lacrosse by the men (Tulpin).
    A key part of the development of the lacrosse in history is the relation it has with the tale of the Mong the loon and the hawk called the Kaikai. Lacrosse is both a sport and an essential part of the indigenous cultural events. As described by the Ojibwa legend in a book that was termed the “Why Birds go South in Winter,” it is established that had been tasked a key role in nature. It is believed that a long time ago, there was only the summer characterized by sunny and warm days as there was no snow. Mong the loon was not much unique from the other birds and would engage in other games even though it was evident that he loved lacrosse compared to the others. It was, however, unfortunate that his friends did not like to play lacrosse, which prompted Mong to set up a challenge. All birds were reluctant to play except Kaikai the hawk but in the end Mong and his team lost the games and the fortune he had bet with Kaikai. The penalty for losing, therefore, was that the north wind would bring the cold and Mong was expected to go with his friends to the opposite direction to the south. It thus follows that had Mong now been so eager to engage in lacrosse as he did, there would have been no winter (Tulpin). 
    In summary, it is worth affirming that the game lacrosse traces a large part of its history to ancient times where it was used as a ceremonial activity and art of settling disputes. The derivation of the name follows the interest by the French in the game, which prompted them to name it based on the shape of the stick. An integral part of the development of the game is the origin in relation to the tale of Mong the loon and the hawk that resulted in winters and seasons as they are perceived today. It has also been known to be a way of giving thanks to life and the gift of nature and was thus an integral part of festivals. Overall, changes have also been noted in the way the stick and the ball advanced to what is seen today from the traditional material used in the past. 

Works Cited
Athnet. “Historical Facts About Lacrosse.” Athletics Scholarships. N.p., 2011. Web.
Aveni, Anthony. “The Indian Origins of Lacrosse.” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (2018): n. pag. Web.
Claydon, Jane. “Origin of Men’s Lacrosse.” Federation of International Lacrosse (2018): n. pag. Web.
College Sports Scholarships. “The Game of Lacrosse.” College Sports Scholarships (2018): n. pag. Web.
McCulloch, P.C., and B.R. Bach Jr. “Injuries in Men’s Lacrosse.” Sports Medicine Update 2007: 29–34. Print.
Natera, Anthony. “Lacrosse: The Origin and Roots of the Game.” Anatera (2009): n. pag. Web.
Scoop, Lacrosse. “The History of Lacrosse Timeline.” Lacrosse Scoop (2018): n. pag. Web.
The Lacrosse Network | TLN. History of Lacrosse in 60 Seconds. United States: YouTube, 2015. Film.
Tulpin, Mekwan. “5 Cool Facts about the Indigenous Origins of Lacrosse.” Royal Ontario Museum, 2017. Web.
Vennum, Thomas. “The History of Lacrosse.” History and Anthropology (2016): n. pag. Web.

May 13, 2022




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