Lacrosse: Canada’s National Summer Sport

While ice hockey is Canada’s national winter sport, Canadians switch their sticks for playing the culture-rich sport of lacrosse on the field in the summer.

Lacrosse is a sport that spread to North America by the European which is based on a game played by Native Americans, in which they used sticks to lead a ball through the gap between two trees and the goals anywhere between 500 yards and several miles apart. In old time, the games could last up to three days with the participation of thousands of players with no boundaries and next to no rules except that players could not touch the ball with their hands.

In 1636, a French Jesuit missionary was the first European to make a record of the sport, naming it ‘lacrosse’ – the French word means a Bishop’s stick – as he believed that the game’s curved implements is similar to the religious prop. In 1840s, the game became popular among European settlers, but not until 1856 that the Montreal Lacrosse Club had been founded. Three years later, the Britain Parliament declared lacrosse as the national game of Canada.

William George Beers, a member of the Montreal club, codified lacrosse’s rules in 1867 limiting the number of players to twelve on each team, replacing the native ball with one made of hard rubber and changing the stick to make throwing and catching the ball easier. 

Lacrosse became official events at the 1904 and 1908 summer Olympics, where teams from Canada, the USA and Great Britain competed. However, lacrosse failed to rouse enough international interest to remain as an Olympic event. In 1930, lacrosse mutated and box lacrosse, played on a covered ice hockey rink, was invented and widespread popularity across North America. Then, in 1994, the Canadian government recognised the sport’s as the country’s national summer sport.