The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recently announced the 2028 Olympic Programme in Los Angeles, revealing lacrosse’s inclusion as one of five new sports for LA28.
Along with baseball/softball, Twenty20 Cricket, squash and flag football (yes, think “tails” from back in primary school), lacrosse is the newest addition to the plethora of sports on offer at the next Olympics after Paris 2024.
Surprisingly, this is not the sport’s debut in the Olympics. In fact, it first appeared in 1908, where Great Britain won their first and only Olympic medal in the sport after narrowly losing out to Canada 14-10. It then went on to appear in 1928 and 1948, before disappearing for the last 75 years or so. After last appearing in Wembley Stadium, the up- and-coming sport is set to re-emerge on the world stage under a new guise, Sixes.
Developed in 2018, this fast-paced game is a little different to how it is commonly played at school, university and even on international scales. The smaller field (70 X 36 metres), homes only six players on either team, unlike the classic 10 a-side game in BUCS. The match time is also considerably shorter – four eight-minute quarters, with a 30 second shot clock, setting the game up to be an intense, fitness driven sport, where there is no such thing as attack or defence.
As well as being more compact, this version of lacrosse comes with comparably reduced costs, making it more accessible and inclusive to teams globally. It combines the traditional aspects of neat stickwork and shots with the more modern dynamics of speed and transitions to create an eye-catching and impressive sport. The sport already featured at the World Games 2022 and the World Cup Super Sixes is set to take place in Hong Kong in the New Year.
Like most female sports, funding is a constant issue and is set to be another hurdle Great Britain will need to overcome in its long journey to Los Angeles 2028. Although it hasn’t been discussed yet on the media, with most athletes working full-time jobs alongside their laxing careers, British Lacrosse will also need to consider commercial deals and sponsorship to help boost the sport – like Netball has done in recent years with Nike.
Likely to be a reliable gold for Team USA, hence the LA28 addition, we equally cannot discount Team GB from a shot at the medal table. After grabbing a bronze, albeit by the skin of our teeth in extra time at the Women’s World Championship 2022 (thanks to Olivia Hompe), Team GB will definitely be coming back to the world stage with something to prove. Nevertheless, the thought of having past, present and future Durham University athletes in the mix for making the Olympic Squad, and potentially even coming back with a medal round their necks, is something so unique about the sport – showing just how accessible the Olympic dream could be to young women. However, its set to be a stiff competition with Sixes including smaller squads and a huge focus on speed.
So, whilst lacrosse is often rightly stereotyped as being a private school, rich sport (think Wild Child and St Trinian’s), hopefully this pivotal step in the sport’s journey and long history can help break the stigma surrounding it. With friends who hadn’t even heard of the sport before coming to Durham, and mates who had never picked up a stick before College Mixed Lacrosse but soon became quick fans, this exciting addition can only push the sport further in the right direction.
With Lacrosse being North-East America’s most popular sport, boasting an incredibly strong college programme as well, its addition to LA28 will hopefully improve our generations engagement with the Olympics and Sixes future. I know I’ll be watching, maybe with some familiar Durham faces popping up on my screen too.
Image: VisitPlano via Flickr