Can You Fight in Lacrosse?

Lacrosse is a fast-paced, high-intensity sport. With sticks flying and bodies colliding, tensions can sometimes boil over. So can players actually get in fights during lacrosse games? This article will examine the rules around fighting and penalties in lacrosse at various levels of play.

Fighting Rules in Men’s Lacrosse

Let’s start with the men’s game. Fighting and violence are explicitly prohibited in rule 5 of the NCAA men’s lacrosse rulebook which oversees college play. The rules clearly state:

“No player, substitute, nonplaying member of a squad, coach or anyone officially connected with a competing team shall:

  1. Enter into an argument with an official as to any decision that has been made or in any way attempt to influence the decision of an official.
  2. Use threatening, profane or obscene language or gestures at any time during the game.”

Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 5 cover additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, including continuing altercations after warnings.

Fighting is also penalized in the official rules for professional leagues like the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) and National Lacrosse League (NLL).

The bottom line – outright fighting or throwing punches in an attempt to injure opponents would result in severe penalties and ejection at the college or pro level.

However, some physical altercations do transpire within the normal course of gameplay. Pushing, shoving, and wrestling after the whistle or during scrums for ground balls is not uncommon. But this is not the same as outright fighting with the intent to harm.

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Fighting Rules in Women’s Lacrosse

In women’s lacrosse, the rules prohibit all stick-to-body contact, so even low-level physical confrontations do not happen. Rule 5 of the women’s game covers misconduct and states:

“No player shall engage in misconduct including:

  • Dangerous Contact: Make contact with an opponent’s stick, body or head in a dangerous or reckless manner”

Dangerous contact penalties deter any kind of aggressive physicality. And without stick and body checking allowed, fights simply do not occur in the women’s game.

Fighting Rules in Youth Lacrosse

Youth lacrosse leagues have strict sportsmanship policies to keep games safe and sportsmanlike. Fighting results in immediate ejection and multi-game suspensions at the youth level.

Coaches emphasize that lacrosse does not permit or teach purposeful violence. Youth leagues develop character, skills and fun – never physical aggression. Cooler heads prevail when emotions get high.

Can Fighting Lead to Bans?

While altercations may occur within gameplay at higher levels, outright fighting and violence can lead to severe penalties, ejections, and league bans.

For example, the NLL fined and suspended two players for fighting in a 2019 altercation.Both received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, leaving their teams short-handed.

Colleges and youth leagues take fighting very seriously. Ejected players can face multi-game suspensions. Coaches may also face discipline for condoning overly physical play.

How Do Lacrosse Fights Compare to Ice Hockey?

Ice hockey is most known for its fighting culture and fisticuffs being part of the game. But lacrosse differs in key ways:

  • Lacrosse penalizes and ejects for fighting; hockey allows some fighting within rules
  • Fighting is integral to hockey as enforcer role; fights are aberrations in lacrosse
  • Lacrosse has stricter unsportsmanlike conduct rules
  • Less padding in lacrosse means less reckless physicality
  • Women’s lacrosse prohibits all contact
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While hockey accepts some fighting, lacrosse aims to eliminate it completely through strong enforcement of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

What About Lacrosse Boxing in the 1800s?

Early forms of lacrosse dating back to Native American origins involved violent stick-swinging and brawling with relatively few rules. These chaotic games bore some resemblance to the full-contact fighting seen in hockey today.

However, as lacrosse evolved into an organized sport with standardized rules and equipment, deliberate fighting was eliminated. The creation of penalties and misconduct fouls barred brawling.

Modern lacrosse continues to channel the physical aggression and warrior spirit of its origins through intense yet structured gameplay. The competitive fire remains but fighting has been rooted out at all levels.

Final Thoughts

Fighting has no place in modern lacrosse. Rules strictly prohibit and penalize fisticuffs across youth, high school, college and professional leagues. Minor scuffles may occur within gameplay but outright fighting brings ejections and suspensions. Instead of violence, lacrosse showcases intense competition and skill within the spirit of sportsmanship.

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