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Monday, 7 December 2015


The oldest organized sport played in North America is lacrosse. It is a stick-and-ball field game derived from a fast and rough North American Indian game called baggataway.

Each team consisted of about 100 to 1000 men, was played on a 1600ft to 10000ft long field and lasted from sunrise to sundown for two to three days straight. It was a symbolic alternative to war.

Local Ojibwas Indians staged a game of baggataway with visiting Sauks outside of Fort Michilimackinac (present Mackinaw City, Michigan) on June 2, 1763, during the Pontiac Wars. The British soldiers watched the game, and when the ball was hit through the open gate of the fort, the teams rushed in. Once inside they grabbed weapons which Native Indian women had smuggled into the fort. The warriors killed about 15 of the 35-man garrison in the struggle and captured the fort.

White men in Canada adopted the game about 1840. They revised the rules and called it La Crosse because the curved end of the playing stick resembled a bishop's staff, or crosier.

Dr William George Beers, a Montreal dentist, has been called "the father of modern lacrosse." In 1855 he founded the Montreal Lacrosse Club and he was instrumental in the drafting of the first definite rules.

Lacrosse gained royal acclaim when in 1861 the Prince of Wales watched an demonstration game between Indians and Canadians, with 25 men on each side.

In 1867 Beers encouraged a convention of enthusiasts to form the National Lacrosse Association which drew up a proper code, shortening the length of each game and reducing the number of players to 12 per team.

The first game played under Beers' rules was at Upper Canada College in 1867; they lost to the Toronto Cricket Club by a score of 3–1.

In the same year, an act of parliament formally adopted lacrosse as the national game of Canada.

From Canada, lacrosse soon spread to the United States, particularly along the Atlantic seaboard., where The Mohawk Club of Troy, New York pioneered the game in 1868.

In 1876, Native Americans and Canadians played a lacrosse match at Windsor Castle before Queen Victoria, who recorded the event in her journal dated June 26, 1876: "I watched a game of la crosse played by a team of 14 Canadians and 13 Iroquois Indians . . . .The game was very pretty to watch . . . It is played with a ball, and there is much running . . ."

Sources Europress Encyclopedia, Comptons Encyclopedia

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