Changing to Fit In: World Lacrosse Olympic Rule Changes

In July of 2018, the World Lacrosse met to approve major changes in governance and the system of international competition. A long term strategic plan was formed for 2018-2024 in the hopes of having the game of lacrosse re-enter the Olympic Games as a medal sport and to have an increase in the number of countries that participate in lacrosse. The strategic plan emphasized the importance of the growth of the game internationally through increased visibility and audience of the sport.

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute lacrosse team, the team that represented the United States in the 1948 Summer Olympic demonstration game of lacrosse, in England (Source: Institute Archives and Special Collections at Rensselaer)

Lacrosse has not been seen as a sport in the Olympics since the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, where it was featured as a demonstration sport, this was the same in the 1928 and 1932 Summer Olympics. Prior to lacrosse being a demonstration sport, it was featured as a medal sport in the 1904 and 1908 Summer Olympics, both only featured two teams.

what do you mean by “both only featured two teams.”? also note that Canada won medals for lacrosse at both the 1904 and 1908

For a sport to be qualified to enter the Olympic Games, according to the Olympic Charter, it must be played on at least 4 continents and in at least 75 countries. Lacrosse is currently played on 6 continents and in 63 countries, with the addition of Ghana in 2019. World Lacrosse has implemented their new strategic plan with the desire to meet the qualifications of an Olympic sport. An important aspect of the changes in the rules and governance of World Lacrosse is that there is to be an increased amount of cohesion between the men’s and women’s game. Eligibility rules found in the Olympic Charter have been found to cause inequity treatment of women and therefore lead to inequitable opportunities for competition for women in the Olympic Games.

With the new strategic plan comes multiple rule changes to both the men’s and women’s games. “We are looking to harmonize the sport between men and women, and not altering the traditional styles of play, as we continue to identify ways to increase fan engagement and following of the sport,” said Redfern, “We are pleased with the adoption of these rules which shall increase the speed of the game and increase the safety of athletes.”


Featured Image: Taylor Cummings, U.S. Women’s national team midfielder, during a showcase opportunity at the 2019 Presidents’ Cup. (Source: US Lacrosse/John Strohsaker)

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