May 25, the University of Michigan announced it just added men’s and women’s lacrosse to its list of varsity sports. U-M is the first BCS conference school to add men’s lacrosse to its list since Notre Dame did so in 1981. Ohio State and Penn State are the only two Big Ten schools that have varsity men’s lacrosse teams. At one time, lacrosse was a mystery sport to me, as was rugby and it still might be a mystery sport to the majority of Americans. I had heard of it before, but never seen a match or anything really relating to the sport. My high school didn’t have a lacrosse team so I wasn’t introduced to the sport then either. It wasn’t until my younger cousin entered an all-boys’ private high school when I was 22 that I learned all about the beauties of lacrosse.
Cole, my cousin, was always into sports and going to any of his football and basketball games was always a pleasure for me. But as a writer and constant thinker, I immediately took a keen interest when he started playing lacrosse. The game, played with the small rubber ball and long sticks, was unlike anything I had ever seen or played. I was always into sports so I began to wonder where lacrosse came from and why do only a few schools have lacrosse teams?
So if you didn’t know, lacrosse, generally, is mostly played in Canada and the east coast of the U.S., which is why many Americans don’t know exactly what lacrosse is or where it came from. They see football and basketball all the time, but have only heard of lacrosse in passing. Well, if you’re reading this, you probably know how the sport is played, but did you know it dates all the way back to the 5th century, making it the oldest sport in North America? The game originated and was played by Native Canadians and Americans with teams from 100 men to 1000 men on “fields” of 500 yards long and more. These games were HUGE obviously and even lasted from sunup to sundown for two to three days down. But don’t automatically assume all Indians played lacrosse; for instance, you won’t find lacrosse within the Chickasaw history.
The game was first officially recorded by the Jesuit missionary Jean de Brebeuf in the 1600s when he saw Huron Indians playing it. In the report to his superiors, he said very little about the actual sport itself but instead focused on the stick the Indians played with. He said the stick looked like the crosier that the bishop carried at religious ceremonies, and from there, the name for the sport “laCROSSE” evolved.
It seems like lacrosse has become a forgotten sport in America, but with the University of Michigan, I predict many more universities will update their varsity teams to include lacrosse. Lacrosse, and rugby (which I wouldn’t recommend playing without dental insuranceor a good mouth guard) seem to be more established today as clubs that are slowly starting to break into mainstream varsity sports because of their popularity. But remember, even I wouldn’t have been hip to the sport without my cousin ever having played. If you want to see the sport thrive and played throughout the U.S., start your own group. You can advertise on sites and all you really need is a field to get some recognition for the longstanding sport.
Leah is a recent graduate from Butler University with a degree in journalism. She is an avid writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. She enjoys staying fit by playing sand volleyball and working out. She loves to write about sports and she especially loves watching her younger cousins’ football, basketball, and lacrosse games. Find more of her work at www.pompomsandcigars.com.
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