03 May Canadian Lacrosse 2018: In the game or on the bench?
It’s an exciting time in the international world of Lacrosse!
The International World Games Association (IWGA) just approved the return of both women’s and men’s Lacrosse to the World Games. National Lacrosse League (NLL) playoffs begin next week. And the Men’s World Championships are just 69 days away! So where does Canada and its official “National Summer Sport” stand on the international level? And what does the future of Lacrosse look like for this country?
On April 11th Global News published an article, Canada World Lacrosse Championship Dispute, calling out the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) on their politics and financial standing. It seems ghosts of the CLA’s tax scandal in 2010 are haunting the team. The scary part is the players seem to be suffering the consequences. Since the tax fraud incident, players are personally expected to cover tournament and travel expenses. With the men’s World Championships in Israel this year, defending their 2014 title might not be an option for team Canada, and they may have to stay home for the first time in 50 years.
So aside from balancing the budget, how are we doing in the world of Lax?
For those who like numbers, let’s break out some stats.
In the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL), which runs tournaments every four years with teams from up to 38 countries:
- Our men’s team won the Championship in 2006 and 2014, but the US has taken the title every other year since 1978
- Our U19 men have lost to the US in the last 5 consecutive tournaments
- Canada’s men’s indoor team has claimed the trophy in all 4 tournaments since the inaugural event in 2003, beating out 12 other competing nations.
- The women’s league has been dominated by the US and Australia since its first championship in 1982
- Our U19 women won their first title in 2015
So although we’re a fierce competitor in field lacrosse, we’re not necessarily the world leader. Box (indoor) lacrosse however… now that’s our game.
In the NLL, which runs a 21-week indoor season with 9 teams throughout Canada, the US and the Iroquois Confederacy:
- Canadian teams have won 4 of the past 10 cup championships
- League MVP has been awarded to a Canadian player in 7 of the past 10 years
- This season, 80% of the draft picks were Canadian players
And what’s next?
Many are saying Lacrosse is the fastest growing team sport in the US right now. Some give the glory to Rugby, but the reality is that interest and enrollment have boomed in the past 8 years. As a result of this new spotlight (or possibly because of it), a new era is beginning for Lacrosse…
- The CLA wants to increase both participation and accessibility… Check out wheelchair and sledge lacrosse!
- We should expect to see Canada’s men’s and women’s teams in the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama summer 2021.
- The NLL has revealed a new trophy for their Championship series, as part of their plan to grow the league’s identity.
- Players are diversifying the sticks they are using, with many made of aluminum or alloys, some testing out carbon fiber, some returning to the traditionally made wood style, and others testing out Junglewood bamboo sticks!
Could this increased interest and participation mean there is hope for getting the sport back into the Olympics? Well, many leagues have changed their regulations to align with Olympic standards. However, the sport would have to gain a few more teams – Olympic requirements say the sport should be played in 75 countries, and right now the FIL has the participation of 60.
In the meantime, we’ll be tuning in to what looks like an amazing Canadian documentary on the Super Channel, Lacrosse: a Nations Game, and keeping an eye out for bamboo sticks!