CBC Digital Archives

Lacrosse is in a state of crisis

The First Nations began playing the sport more than 500 years ago. Today lacrosse not only remains an integral part of native culture, but is played by thousands of people across Canada. From its origin as 'The Creator's Game' to the overwhelming popularity of the Toronto Rock and the modern game, lacrosse has survived the test of time after treading down a long, controversial path that led it to become recognized as Canada's official national sport.

With the ascent of hockey in Canada's sporting consciousness, lacrosse's popularity has slowly dwindled away by the 1950s. Crowds have virtually disappeared. One-time great lacrosse clubs have folded and communities that had been lacrosse strongholds have now become hockey hotbeds. Lacrosse's big problem is that it has failed to keep up with the times by instituting rule changes to make it more exciting. In this CBC Radio clip, Bill Good looks at what's being done to revive the game. 
. Basic rules for box lacrosse: each team is comprised of six players — one goalie and five runners. The game is divided into four 15-minute quarters and each team is entitled to two 45-second timeouts per half. Similar to basketball, the offensive team is penalized if it fails to advance the ball past the midfield line within ten seconds of taking possession in their end of the floor.

. Like hockey, faceoffs in box lacrosse are used at the start of each quarter and after every goal. Two opposing players face their sticks down on the floor at midfield while the referee places the ball between the heads of their sticks.

. Box lacrosse employs a 30-second clock that counts down when a team takes possession of the ball. The offensive team must fire a shot on goal during that time or it will lose possession. If they do register a shot without scoring, but recover possession on a rebound, the clock is reset for another 30 seconds.

. Basic rules for field lacrosse: each team is comprised of ten players — one goalie, three defencemen, three midfielders and three attackers. Unlike box lacrosse where the five runners can roam the entire floor, team in field lacrosse must keep at least four players (including the goalie) in its end of the field, and three in the opposing end. Only the three midfielders are allowed to trek the entire length of the field.

. There is no shot clock in field lacrosse, but a stall may be called to keep the game moving — this must be agreed upon by two of the three referees.
Medium: Radio
Program: Assignment
Broadcast Date: April 2, 1957
Host: Maria Barrett, Bill McNeil
Reporter: Bill Good
Duration: 4:22
Photo: Alfred G. Pittaway/National Archives of Canada/PA-028950

Last updated: March 7, 2012

Page consulted on April 3, 2014

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