Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in America. With its roots in Native American culture, lacrosse is sometimes referred to as the “Creator’s Game”. But is this centuries-old sport contested on the world’s biggest athletic stage – the Olympic Games?
Unfortunately, lacrosse is currently not an Olympic sport. Both men’s and women’s field lacrosse have yet to be included in either the Summer or Winter Olympics. However, lacrosse has made progress toward potential future Olympic inclusion.
History of Lacrosse in the Olympics
Lacrosse has never been featured as a full medal Olympic sport. However, a men’s lacrosse exhibition match was held during the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis. Two Canadian teams played for the gold medal, with Winnipeg Shamrocks defeating the Mohawk Indians.
This remained lacrosse’s only Olympic appearance for over a century. But in the 2000s, a unified push began to officially sanction the sport for future Games.
Bid for Olympic Inclusion
In 2009, the Federation of International Lacrosse and World Lacrosse were formed to merge men’s and women’s lacrosse under one governing body. This enabled lacrosse to more actively begin pursuing Olympic status.
In 2011, the International Olympic Committee recognized FIL as the official governing body for international lacrosse competition and participation. This was a major milestone, giving lacrosse more legitimacy and resources to petition for Olympic inclusion.
Lacrosse has been featured as a demonstration sport in the World Games since 2001 under FIL sanction. The World Games are held the year following each Summer Olympics. Lacrosse’s visibility in this global multi-sport event helps bolster the case for Olympic status.
Bid to become an official Olympic sport
FIL, World Lacrosse, and other governing bodies have targeted the 2032 Summer Games in Brisbane as the event where lacrosse will bid to become an official Olympic sport. This timeline gives lacrosse over 10 years to develop international governing frameworks and engaged member nations.
Including lacrosse successfully will require establishing competitive parity, gender equality, youth participation, and global representation across continents. Growing the sport domestically and worldwide is key.
Why Lacrosse Deserves Olympic Inclusion
Lacrosse has many attributes that would make it a compelling and fitting Olympic sport:
- As the oldest North American sport, lacrosse has historic cultural significance.
- The sport is fast-paced, high-scoring, and exciting to watch – ideal for Olympic audiences.
- Global participation continues to expand year over year.
- The 2032 Brisbane Games represent an opportune time for FIL to elevate lacrosse’s international prominence.
- With proper promotion and development, lacrosse offers Olympic marketing and viewership growth potential, especially in the North American market.
So while lacrosse currently remains excluded from the Olympics, the groundwork is being laid through unified governance and expanding worldwide participation. The future looks bright for lacrosse to claim its rightful place as an Olympic sport.