Lacrosse, which the Native People of North America knew under many different names such as Baggataway or Tewaarathon, played a significant role in the community and religious life of tribes across the continent for untold years. Its origin lost in the antiquity of myth, Lacrosse remains a notable contribution of the Native culture to modern Canadian society. Native Lacrosse was characterized by a deeply spiritual involvement and those who took part did so with dedicated spirit and with the highest ideals of bringing glory to themselves and their tribes and honour to the participants and the tribes to which they belonged.
In the 1840s the first games of Lacrosse were played between the townsfolk and the Native People. Though it was many years before any significant wins were logged against the Natives, the game of Lacrosse was quickly winning the loyalty and interest of the newest North Americans. Lacrosse was named Canada's National Game by Parliament in 1859. In 1867 the Montreal Lacrosse Club, headed by Dr. Beers, organized a conference in Kingston in order to create a national body whose purpose would be to govern the sport throughout the newly formed country.
The National Lacrosse Association became the first national sport governing body in North America dedicated to the governance of a sport, the standardization of rules and competition, and the running of national championships to promote good fellowship and unity across the country. The unforgettable motto of the organization was,
Lacrosse, because of its unique history, exists as a link between the disparate components of Canadian history, First Nations and European Settler. It remains the rare occurrence in which an element of Native Culture was accepted and embraced by Canadian society. To the religious and social rituals of the first North Americans, the settlers brought the European concepts of structure and rules, and together these people produced one of the first symbols of the new Canadian nation, Lacrosse.
The advent of the 20th century saw Lacrosse as the dominant sport in Canada. There were extensive amateur and professional leagues across the country and teams routinely traveled from Quebec and Ontario to B.C. and vice versa to challenge for supremacy in the game. In 1901 Lord Minto, the Governor General of Canada, donated a silver cup to become the symbol of the championship of Canada. The Minto Cup, today the symbol of supremacy in the Junior ranks, remains one of the proudest prizes of Lacrosse. In 1910 Sir Donald Mann, chief architect of the Canadian Northern Railway, donated a gold cup to be awarded to the national amateur senior champion. Today it is the championship prize of the best Senior team in Box Lacrosse in Canada.
The coming of the 1930s brought innovation once again to the sport. Promoters married the two most popular games, Lacrosse and Hockey, and created Indoor Lacrosse, also known as Box Lacrosse or Boxla. The game was built upon speed and action and very quickly won massive support within the organization. The Canadian Lacrosse Association today recognizes four separate disciplines in the game of Lacrosse:
Box Lacrosse is uniquely a Canadian game and is best described as a game of speed and reaction. Men's Field Lacrosse is a game of patience and strategy which focuses on control of the ball. The Women's Field game has stayed truest to the original sport in its play. It is a game based on the skills of passing and ball control. Inter-Lacrosse is a non-contact version of the sport designed to be adaptable to the various age and skill levels of the participants.
Lacrosse was re-confirmed by Parliament as the National (Summer) Sport of Canada in 1994.
** Information for this page was taken from the Canadian Lacrosse Association's website www.lacrosse.ca **
As the vast majority of the participants in our sport are children, youth and their parents, the Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association, along with the Canadian Lacrosse Associaton, feels that we need to understand the reasons for their involvement and we as a sport organization should encourage that participation. The following philosophical statement is intended as the underpinning of a program which will build on this platform to promote fair play, drug free sport, and standards of competition.
When all the complex questions had been reduced to their basics, we found that the fundamental question remains:
Why do we want children to play sports, and more specifically, to play Lacrosse?
What is the intrinsic value of sport that makes it a desirable commodity in our culture? Is there merit apart from the opportunity to succeed in professional sport, which is a long shot for most people who are involved in sport, or the Olympic platform, which is even further beyond the reach of most athletes or children and their parents? What motivation is there for every parent to encourage the participation of their child in sport?
Among the aboriginal peoples of North America there is a philosophy of human nature which holds that humanity is defined by three facets: mind, body, and spirit. Success in the life experience is achieved through the proper conditioning of physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the individual. The mind must be developed to be active and flexible. The body must be developed to be strong and agile. The spirit must be developed through a strong moral code that guides our actions throughout our lives. It is our responsibility to ensure that our children develop as humans by giving them the opportunity and the encouragement to develop each of these facets in themselves. As humans ourselves, we must continue to visit and develop these aspects throughout our lives.
From this philosophy we can extract the intrinsic value of sport to our culture. Surely it is desirable that we strive to help our children grow to be healthy, alert, and strong persons. We try to achieve this in many ways; health plans for our families, education for all our children, and our religions and our laws that strive to create moral codes by which we live and interact with each other.
Sport has the distinctive character of being able to address all three of these facets, mind body and spirit, through one activity.
By the very nature of most sports, children who participate are physically active. They build physical fitness and develop their coordination, balance and judgment about their bodies. Through their involvement in these physical activities they develop body awareness and learn to push and extend their capabilities to new heights.
Physical development does not always have to be measured against an absolute standard but may be measured against personal standards. In this way success, achievement and development are attainable for all.
As the participants develop and progress through the learning stages of sport, their abilities to understand, evaluate and make judgments on skills, techniques and strategies also develop. We help the athletes to develop their cognitive abilities from stages of rote understanding (execution by the numbers) through comprehension, instinctive execution, and into innovation. Sport helps to develop judgment and analytical skills in its participants. Through sport athletes develop confidence in their capabilities and sport can help to build positive self images.
Sport is inherently well suited to teaching children values, morals, and rules of behaviour. We must not make the mistake of believing that these items are inherent to sport. Sport is a tremendous tool by which we can transmit on many levels the guidance to develop a strong moral code. This teaching must occur on a conscious level and not be assumed to be a fundamental part of participation. We must clearly define the moral parameters that we wish to establish as a foundation, communicating and reinforcing these through words and actions. Through sport we can transmit the values of fair and honest competition, and respect for rules and authority. We can also help participants develop a guideline for social interaction that they will carry into all other aspects of their lives.
Throughout history the presence and prevalence of sport as part of civilization is striking. The consistency of sport as an inherent part of culture lends credence to the belief that there are fundamental principles at play. Quite apart from the overwhelming dominance of professional sport, sport as entertainment, highly specialized sport or an international platform of elite performance, sport is a pervasive part of every Canadian's life. It is a tool by which we can help to develop a society of healthy, active citizens and transmit to our children and youth fundamental principles, social skills and moral values.
** Information is taken from the Canadian Lacrosse Association website **