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When people think about American sports, they often think of sports like (American) football, baseball, basketball and so on, but what about the sport of lacrosse? Have you ever heard of this original North American sport before? After reading this post you will have a basic understanding of this truly American sport.
Lacrosse is a team sport that was created long ago by the Native Americans in present day Canada and the northern United States. This sport is now played all around the United States and Canada in children’s leagues, high schools, colleges, and even professionally. This sport is played with a small rubber ball and long handled sticks. Each lacrosse stick has a small net on the top end, which is used to catch and throw the ball to other players. Here is a picture of a lacrosse stick.
The game of lacrosse is played on a field with one goal at each end of the field. The objective of this game is to score goals by shooting (throwing) the small ball into the opponent’s net. To score players use their lacrosse sticks to catch, carry, and pass the ball around the field and throw the ball into the net to make goals. Defensively, the objective of the game is to keep the opposing team from scoring, but also to keep them from gaining possession the ball. To do this defensive players use their sticks and bodies to impede other players. Players can’t touch the lacrosse ball with their hands at any time during the game. The team with the most goals at the end of the game is considered the winner. Games are split into 4 equal quarters, usually with a half-time break after the first two quarters. In high school games, quarters are 12-minutes long; in college and professional games, quarters are 15-minutes long.
The rules of the game described above, are a little different from the original way the game was played by the Native Americans. In their games, there was no “out-of-bounds” so the field was much bigger, and the goals were often large rocks or trees. The playing time for a game was also much longer. A single game was often played for a whole day, from sun up until sun down!
Lacrosse players today also have more protection on their bodies than the Native Americans did. The male version of lacrosse is a contact sport. So, people can, and do, get hurt at times. Boys and men who play this game wear padding, like shoulder pads, gloves, helmets, elbow pads, and so on. The female version of this game is not a contact sport, so women wear less protective equipment, but they do wear helmets.
Take a look at this short video of a lacrosse game to get an idea of what this truly American sport looks like. Since there are no videos of the old way this sport was played, you’ll have to imagine how it looked when played by Native Americans 500-1000 years ago.