Lacrosse has widely touted itself as the “fastest-growing sport in the world”. (While some sources suggest it’s actually Pickleball.) Whatever the true answer, there is no question that Lacrosse has boomed over the last two decades, spreading outside the private schools of North America and into an international competition worthy of its own world championships. In 2022 the sport joins The World Games.
With its origin deriving from the Native American communities, tradition and legacy have long been focal points for lovers and historians of Lacrosse. There isn’t much in the way of Lacrosse stories in popular culture/entertainment, but often these are the central points. Take for instance the Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Legends of Tomorrow) Lacrosse vehicle, Crooked Arrows.
Lacrosse in The World Games
The World Games is a sports event that takes place every four years much like the Olympics. Athletes from all over the world compete in over 30 unique sports, which are divided into categories, including:
- Artistic Sports
- Ball Sports
- Martial Arts
- Precision Sports
- Strength Sports
- Trend Sports
- Invitational Sports
Interestingly, Women’s Lacrosse is in the “Ball Sports” category, where Men’s Lacrosse is in the Invitational Sports.
In the 2017 World Games, Women’s Lacrosse was invited for the first time. In 2022, Men’s Lacrosse will join the games for the first time.
The addition of Lacrosse (both Men’s and Women’s) to the World Games is a huge potential for the sport internationally. World Lacrosse is the entity that oversees international competition. 8 teams were selected to the World Games based on where the team finished in the 2018 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship.
Initially, the International World Games Association would only allow teams from recognized sovereign nations. Therefore, despite the Iroquois Nationals ranking 3rd, by the rules they are ineligible. World Lacrosse nominated 8 different teams instead for selection. However, after public pressure, the IWGA has reversed course and will allow the Iroquois Nationals to compete…if room is made for them in the selections.
That’s a super shitty thing to do. They realized they made a mistake, but said instead of fixing the mistake and adding, say, a 10th team as well. The Iroquois would only be allowed to compete if one of the 8 teams dropped out or was replaced.
Ireland steps up
Instead of forcing World Lacrosse to rescind their invitation, Ireland voluntarily withdrew from consideration.
“It’s simply the right thing to do,” said Ireland Lacrosse CEO Michael Kennedy. “We are a proud member of World Lacrosse and we recognize the importance of The World Games to the continued growth of our sport. As much as our players would have been honored to compete, we know the right thing is for the Iroquois Nationals to represent our sport on this international stage.”
In doing so, now the stage is clear and the the Iroquois Nationals will be rightfully named one of the 8 teams to go to The World Games.
Bigger than the Game
Ireland’s move is historic and its significance is huge. In a game steeped in tradition and legacy, doing what’s right and honoring the game’s creators is the very essence of sportsmanship. Plus, it is a sovereign, international nation formerly acknowledging the Indigenous people of the United States, something even this country fails at time and time again.
The gesture isn’t lost on the Iroquois Nationals. They put out a statement of their own to acknowledge just how monumental this offering was.
Text extracted from above image:
We are storytellers, but today, we are without words as we contemplate the generosity of spirit shown by Ireland Lacrosse.
All we can say is:
You are in our hearts.
You are part of the spirit of Lacrosse.
We will never forget that.
Nyawenha. Go raibh maith agat.
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