History of Lacrosse
This page focuses on the history of lacrosse. It looks at where and when lacrosse was invented, why the game is called lacrosse, when lacrosse became a college game and much more. To learn about past lacrosse champions, please visit our page on D1 College Lacrosse Champions.
Lacrosse History – Key Dates & Events
- Lacrosse was invented in the 1100s by Native American tribes based in the northeast and plain states of present-day Canada and USA. The original version of lacrosse involved hundreds of men playing the game with a ball and sticks. Moreover, these very physical games were played without any protective gear.
- Lacrosse was played by Native American tribes for a variety of reasons including settling tribal disputes (versus going to war), toughening up warriors, recreation, religious reasons, etc.
- The name “lacrosse” came from a French missionary, Jean de Brébeuf, who watched the Iroquois playing this game in the 1630s. “La Crosse” is French for the stick.
- In contrast, since this was a tough game, Native Americans had some more colorful names for the game. For example, the Mohawks called it the “little brother of war”.
- In the 1800s, lacrosse started to be played at Canadian colleges.
- The first United States college/university to add lacrosse as a sport was New York University in 1877.
- Lacrosse was an Olympic sport at the 1904 and 1908 Olympics.
- Lacrosse is not popular enough on a global basis to be in the modern Olympics. However, lacrosse is played in a wide variety of countries such as Canada, USA, Australia, England, Japan, Germany, etc. For example, 38 nations participated in the 2014 World Lacrosse Championship (which was held in Colorado).
- Box lacrosse was created in Canada in the 1930s. “Cool” (pun intended) history fact – The reason for the creation of box lacrosse… the cold & snow of Canada forced lacrosse indoors in order for lacrosse players to enjoy a longer season!
- The first NCAA D1 men’s lacrosse championship was held in 1971.
- The first NCAA D1 women’s lacrosse championship was held in 1982.
- In 1998, US Lacrosse was formed. US Lacrosse is the governing body for men’s and women’s lacrosse in the United States.
- Major League Lacrosse (MLL) was formed in 2001.
History of Lacrosse