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The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Lacrosse makes its Olympic debut, but the game’s creators may not participate

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Early lacrosse games were played with upwards of 1,000 players and were played on fields with no boundaries.

Lacrosse, also known as the “Creator’s game”, has officially been added to the slate of sports competing in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games over 9 centuries after its inception. However, the creators of lacrosse most likely won’t be represented.

This isn’t the first time that Lacrosse has been played in the Olympics. Lacrosse was played in the 1904 St. Louis Olympics and the 1908 London Olympics. It was then presented as a demonstration sport, played more for promotion of the Games rather than competition, in the Amsterdam 1928, Los Angeles 1932, and the London 1948 Games.

In his New York Times article, Victor Mather says,  “The International Olympic Committee has long pushed for fewer athletes at the Games, in order to cut costs, a goal that would suffer from the addition of 10-strong lacrosse teams.” It is proposed that lacrosse will be played in sixes to combat these costs. Sixes are exactly as they sound–a six-on-six version of the game that is much more compact and fast-paced. While this is a huge achievement for the sport, it would be nowhere without the creators.

Lesley Kennedy’s story dates lacrosse back to the year 1100 when it was first played by the Iroquois people, now known as the Haudenosaunee, in areas of what is now upstate New York and parts of Canada. As a monumental pillar of Native American culture, it was believed that the sport was a gift from the Creator to be used for enjoyment and as medicine. 

Now, according to AP News, the Haudenosaunee lacrosse team competes in the company of countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. They represent the spirit of their ancestors passed down the ceremonial tradition through generations, which they need to demonstrate on the biggest stage. 

As of now, the Haudenosaunee team will be unable to compete as their own team in the Olympics because they are not a member of the IOC or the United Nations. For the Haudenosaunee athletes to compete, they will have to play for either the United States or Canadian teams. 

The Haudenosaunee men’s team has competed at the world championships since 1990, claiming the bronze medal this past summer. The women’s team has competed at the last four women’s world championships as well. 

Recently, and most significantly, AP News reported that the Haudenosaunee men and women were allowed to compete in the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. The World Games are an Olympic-style competition for sports that don’t have a permanent place in the Olympic program. Now that lacrosse has a place on the Olympic program it raises questions about if they should be able to compete as their own team in the Olympics since they can in the World Games. 

Becki Haislip, Guilford women’s lacrosse assistant coach, former Guilford lacrosse player and avid lacrosse fan, was asked her opinion on whether the Haudenosaunee team should be able to compete in the Olympics. 

“Looking at the tradition and culture they represent, I think it is important for them to compete in the Olympics as their own team. However, if we are going by the IOC’s rules they unfortunately won’t be able to compete as they are not a member of the IOC and are not their own country. It’s not fair but the IOC makes the rules and we just have to follow them”, says Haislip.

The Haudenosaunee athletes are not going to give up this opportunity to compete and honor their ancestors. The committee organizing the Olympics, LA28, said in a statement, “We intend to find creative solutions that honor the sport’s heritage and allow participation for Haudenosaunee athletes while respecting the Olympic Games framework established by the IOC”.

With the Olympic Games being the biggest stage for sports in the world, it’s a huge opportunity for lacrosse to get on the stage, and a huge chance for the Haudenosaunee people to represent their ancestors, traditions and culture. Many believe they should be allowed to compete as their own team, but it all comes down to the decision of the IOC.

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    TonyNov 4, 2023 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks for insight into this fantastic sport!! Love the article!!❤️