Growing up in a sports family, I had a lot of exposure to many different fields of play. My father was a gifted athlete who excelled at every sport he tried. Our house was filled with his trophies for bowling, golf, tennis and for the Little League baseball teams he coached that my brothers played on.
His love of sports was passed down to my two brothers and I, and from the time we were old enough to pick up a bat, we all began playing baseball (or softball for me). It was our passion. We soon took on many other sports, many having been taught to us first by my Dad.
Among the three of us, we’ve played nine different sports in city leagues, junior high, high school, some college and after including soccer, football, track, basketball, volleyball, baseball, wrestling, tennis and cheerleading. And no, I wasn’t the cheerleader.
But, there’s one sports field I’ve never set foot on that many of the sports previously mentioned are based on or have elements of: lacrosse. I’ve always had some curiosity about the game, so when the Denver Outlaws invited us to see a game, how could I resist? We’ll be attending their season opener against the Nationals this Saturday, so I decided to do a little reading up on the sport to know what I’ll be looking at when I enter this very new arena for me and my family.
Like many people, I’ve always assumed lacrosse (or lax), originated in Europe or Canada, but that couldn’t be more wrong. Lacrosse is truly the original All-American sport, as it was created by American Indians. The sport was very physical, and used to train warriors for battle. Tribes played lax to settle disputes and many players were injured or even died while playing because of the physicality. Now we have protective gear, but can you imagine the blow it would be to get hit in the head, arms or body with one of those sticks without any protection?
The Indians believed their lax sticks or crosses, were extensions of their owners and had spiritual qualities. These sacred sticks were carefully-crafted and had spiritually relevant figures carved into them. I get it. I kinda felt that way about my tennis racquet too.
The game of lax is fast-paced like soccer, with players passing the ball between them using only their crosses while opponents try to knock the ball from their crosse. Points are scored when a player throws the ball past the goalie and into the opposing team’s goal or net. Played on a grass field, lax resembles soccer or football, while the offensive and defensive play resemble basketball. The physical nature of the sport and many of the skills required also translate to football.
Knowing the history of lax and how many of the sports I love were born out of it, gives me a whole new appreciation for what is now the fastest growing sport in America.
Let the games begin!