Lacrosse - Remembering the Past

Lacrosse - Remembering the past

While looking forward to the future

Written by Gary Groob

Executive Director – “All Lacrosse All the Time”

(Guest writer for Think Lacrosse)

Lacrosse is a traditional indigenous people’s game and was first encountered by Europeans when French Jesuit missionaries in the St. Lawrence Valley witnessed the game in the 1630's. Lacrosse for centuries was seen as a key element of cultural identity and spiritual healing to Native Americans, known as the "Creator's Game" and the "Medicine Game".

Box Lacrosse:
Box lacrosse is a modern version of the game that was invented in Canada during the 1920s and 1930s. The roots of indoor lacrosse are obscure, but its invention has been attributed to one Paddy Brennan, a field lacrosse player and referee from Montreal, who, being annoyed by the constant slowing of play from balls going out of bounds in the field game, experimented with indoor games at the Mount Royal Arena during the early 1920s.

This form of lacrosse was also adopted as the primary version of the game played on Native American reservations in the United States and Canada by the Haudenosaunee and other Native peoples. It is the only sport in which the American indigenous people are sanctioned to compete internationally, participating as the Iroquois Nationals team.

Through The Years:
Like all sports, the players have grown bigger and faster over the years, but unlike other sports the game hasn't veered much from its original roots.

Through the years, unlike other sports, the National Lacrosse League (NLL) and the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL) previously, have been able to boast having the greatest players on the face of the earth. Players such as John Grant Sr. and Jr., Gary and Paul Gait, Jim Wasson, John Tavaras, Shawn Evans, Tom Schreiber, and many, many more. Fans always got the absolute best value for their dollar.

The Future is now:
As the game grows, the league grows and it transitions from part time (with players holding other jobs) to full time careers playing lacrosse, it looks to be bright sunny days ahead for the league, players, and fans.

With the correct people at the helm marketing, getting advertising dollars, plus multimedia and television deals, the sky is the limit to how big this game can grow.

Brett Frood has stepped in as the new NLL Commissioner, has experience of running the Stewart-Haas Racing Team. He should be able to take this league to the next level. In addition, Frood has experience in finance, marketing, as well as running large corporations, and should be able to really push the league to the mainstream.

More than just TV deals:
While the focus has been on the ESPN & TSN deals (as it should), many other things were added. For the first time teams had a chance to sell their NLL team merchandise on the Fanatics website (Fanatics sells team sports apparel for major sports such as the NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, Soccer and NASCAR).  More sponsors have been recruited for the league, as well as the aforementioned TV and multimedia deals.

Former NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz had mentioned - unlike the old days when teams threw down a carpet, and sold tickets hoping for revenue, now there are many layers, and many ventures the league is involved in to generate financial stability for the teams. Also, the league came to the aid of teams locked in unfavorable arena deals, and helped with relocating into much better situations. This has put the league a very favorable place for "Blue Chip" groups to be NLL owners, further stabilizing an already strong structure.

The only thing that concerns me is with growth, will it forget it's roots? Will it pay homage to all who came before that paved the way for such growth?

Time will tell, but if history is any indication, the game is in good hands with people who genuinely care about the past, as much as the future.

Multi Sports Hall of Fame lacrosse player Jim Wasson said..."With all this in place now, the sky is the limit for how big this game can become".

World Lacrosse and the Olympics:
The numbers were great for the recent World Lacrosse Field Championships. Over 82,000 people attended the games live. More inspiring was that it was broadcast in over 190 countries expanding its reach like never before.

With the introduction of "Lacrosse Sixes" worldwide (a version of box lacrosse played outdoors on a smaller field); the Olympic committee is enthusiastic. Look for the reintroduction of lacrosse in the 2028 games in Los Angeles. With 280 countries viewing the game, it should be a huge push to finally turn this from a fringe sport to a mainstream sport.

The future is brighter than ever before in all aspects of the game. With Field and Box Lacrosse moving together in the same direction (working together) there is no stopping the fastest growing game that the world has seen in years.