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History of Lacrosse

Explore here to better understand the history of the game of Lacrosse as well as the current rules, equipment requirements, and other information that will prepare you for play. 

The History of Lacrosse

The history of lacrosse goes all the way back to the Native Americans. This makes it the oldest sport in North America. Originally, the sport had its roots in the religion of Native Americans, and it was played for many cultural reasons, including to heal the sick and resolve conflicts.

According to the history of lacrosse, the game was also used as a preparation for war, and tribes played one another in violent battles. Goals could be a rock or a tree, or even two goalposts. Balls were said to be made of many materials, from deerskin to clay, stone or wood.

A man named Jean de Brebeuf, who was a Jesuit missionary, saw lacrosse played by a Huron tribe in what is now southeastern Ontario, Canada, and the game spread to French pioneers, who played it throughout the first part of the 1800s. In 1867, the field dimensions, number of players and other rules were set by W. George Beers, who was a Canadian dentist.

Ten years later, in 1877, the first college lacrosse team was formed at New York University. In 1882, the first high school teams were formed at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, Philips Academy in Andover, Mass. And Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

The history of lacrosse for women began with the first game in 1890 in Scotland at St. Leonard's School. The first U.S. women's lacrosse team was established in 1926 by Rosabelle Sinclair at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland.

Until the middle of the 1930s, men's and women's lacrosse were played with the same rules. Women's lacrosse continued with basically the same rules, but men's lacrosse began to change in form and character. Today, men's and women's lacrosse are still played under different rules. The women's game prohibits body contact and limits stick contact so little protective equipment is needed. The men's game of lacrosse allows both stick and body contact but not violence.

Although lacrosse has a reputation for being a dangerous game to play, injury statistics prove that it is not. Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing team sports in the United States and there are over 500 men's and women's college teams. In the last ten years youth participation has grown immensely, with now around 200,000 high school students playing the game.

U.S. Lacrosse was established in 1998 to oversee the sport of lacrosse in the United States. Its headquarters are located in Baltimore, Maryland as is the Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame. Its membership includes 250,000 lacrosse players, coaches and enthusiasts. U.S. lacrosse has men's and women's national teams as well as men's and women's under 19 national teams.

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