Lacrosse in the United States
|Lacrosse in the United States|
|Governing body||US Lacrosse|
Men's national team |
Women's national team
|Single match||48,970 (2008)|
The sport of lacrosse has been played in the United States long before western expansion. Over the years, the game has developed into a popular team sport that is played throughout the entire United States. Still, the hotbed areas for lacrosse continue to be in the upper north-east part of the country.
U.S. national teams
Every year the United States puts together six teams to compete on an international level. There is an under 19 team, an indoor team, and an outdoor team, for both men’s and women’s respectively. After the first world championship in 1967, the game began being played every four years starting in 1974. Since the beginning of the World Lacrosse Championship in 1967, the United States national teams have won a total of twenty-eight world championships. Their biggest rivalry throughout the history of the tournament has easily been Canada who the United States have played in eight of their twelve men’s outdoor world championship appearances.
Major League Lacrosse
In 1998 Jake Steinfeld became inspired by an article that spoke about the growth of lacrosse, and wanted to develop a professional outdoor league. By 2001, the MLL or Major League Lacrosse had started play to capitalize on the growing demand of lacrosse both in the United States and around the world.
Major League Lacrosse is currently a nine-team professional league with the bulk of the teams in the Northeastern United States. Many of these players are considered some of the best if not the best in the world. The current Major League Lacrosse teams include: Atlanta Blaze, Boston Cannons, Florida Launch, Charlotte Hounds, New York Lizards, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Ohio Machine, Denver Outlaws, Dallas Rattlers. After starting teams in Georgia, Florida, and Ohio, they are attempting to expand into Texas as well. Unlike high school and college lacrosse, the MLL uses a two-point line on its field that sits sixteen yards from the front of the goal. They also have recently implemented a sixty second shot clock which speeds up an already fast paced game.
National Lacrosse League
In addition to Major League Lacrosse which is played outdoors in the summer, the National Lacrosse League is a box lacrosse league from January to June. Because of these differing schedules, many current professional lacrosse players will start the year off in box lacrosse and end with outdoor lacrosse in the summer. Box lacrosse is a slightly different version of traditional lacrosse and is played in a dried-out hockey rink. Goalies wear pads comparable to the pads an ice hockey player would traditionally wear. Games in box lacrosse also feature six players versus six instead of ten versus ten matchups in outdoor lacrosse. There are currently nine different teams in the National Lacrosse League. They are the Georgia Swarm, New England Black Wolves, Rochester Knighthawks, Toronto Rock, Calgary Roughnecks, Colorado Mammoth, Saskatchewan Rush, and Vancouver Stealth.
United Women’s Lacrosse League
Starting in 2016, the United Women's Lacrosse League began play throughout the United States with four different teams. Currently, the league’s teams are located only on the northern east coast as these areas can draw the biggest fan bases. The teams involved in the league play are the Baltimore Ride, the Boston Storm, the Long Island Sound, and the Philadelphia Force. The league is attempting to rewrite the book on women’s professional sports. At the moment, players have their travel expenses paid for but do not receive a salary as the thirty to forty-thousand-dollar budget is currently used to keep the league running. Still, this could soon change. By comparison, players in the MLL make somewhere between ten and twenty-five thousand dollars a year.
Structure and function
Lacrosse is a full field, 10 vs 10 contact sport. Each team has one goalie, three defenders, three mid fielders, and three attackmen. Throughout the contest, players attempt use their sticks to shoot the ball into the opponent’s goal. At the end of the game, the team with the most goals wins. In college lacrosse, the games consist of four, fifteen minute quarters. This game length decreases to twelve minutes per quarter at the high school level, and decreases to ten minute per quarter at the little league level.
Each team must have four players (a goalie and three defenders typically), on their defensive side of the field at all times. They must also have three players (usually three attackmen) on their offensive side of the ball at all times. The remaining three players (usually midfielders or middies) are free to roam the field as they please during the game. There are ten players on the field at a time. Still each team is allowed a maximum of seven players on their half of the field at a team and six players on their opponents’ side of the field at a time with the goalie being the extra man. Like hockey, substitutions are considered “on the fly” meaning that the players may enter and exit the field during gameplay assuming each team has a maximum of ten players on the field at the time. The game essentially has the same rules as hockey and is played both indoor (box lacrosse) and outdoor (full field).
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Lacrosse started out as a tribal ritual for native Americans to play before going to war. Differences between groups may have been settled through large, multi-day games covering expansive fields and many players. The game was originally known as stickball. Ever since its creation, it has been considered a collision sport like football and hockey, not a contact sport like basketball and soccer. For a short amount of time, lacrosse was a full-fledged Olympic sport. After westward expansion, Europeans modified the game to make it much more alike the college and high school level game played today. When natives played lacrosse, dodging defenders was considered cowardly and was looked down upon. Since they were preparing for war, they were taught to embrace the pains involved with playing the game and fight through them. Throwing the ball from stick to stick was seen as a trick in the game, not a commonly utilized skill. Nowadays, these two trends have changed in a great way. Being able to skillfully pass from between teammates and dodge defenders to create open shots have become a pinnacle of today’s current game.
Lacrosse in the US is currently the fastest growing sport in America. With a faster growth rate than swimming, bowling, water polo, cross country, ice hockey, and soccer, there were 36,000 college lacrosse players in the united states as of 2015. From 2009 to 2014 the growth rate for lacrosse has been 28%. In 2009, 1984 high schools across the country had sponsored a lacrosse program, but by 2014, 2535 high schools across the country had sponsored a lacrosse program. Originally lacrosse was only played on the east coast, but it is starting to make a move out to the middle and west of the United States. 750,000 children across the United States played lacrosse in 2015. For junior league lacrosse, the growth rate has been 43% for boys and girls. Denver became the first non-east coast team in history to make it to the NCAA division 1 finals in 2015.
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