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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Field Lacrosse

To kick off this series, I will briefly explain the most commonly known version of lacrosse, formally known as "Field Lacrosse." Field lax traces its roots to around the 14th Century. Native Americans across the country played different versions of this game for a variety of reasons.

In Native American society, lacrosse served several different purposes. The sport was used for conflict resolution, the training of young warriors, and as a religious ritual. Games could be played on a pitch over a mile wide and sometimes lasted for days. Early lacrosse balls were made out of deerskin, clay, stone, and sometimes wood. Lacrosse has played a significant role in the community and religious life of tribes across the continent for many years. Early lacrosse was characterized by deep spiritual involvement, befitting the spirit of combat in which it was undertaken. Those who took part did so in the role of warriors, with the goal of bringing glory and honor to themselves and their tribes. The game was said to be played "for the pleasure of the Creator."
Lacrosse has witnessed significant modifications since its origins in the 14th century, but many aspects of the sport remain the same. In the traditional Native American version, each team consisted of about 100 to 1,000 men on a field that stretched from about 500 yards to a couple of miles long. These lacrosse games lasted from sunup to sundown for two to three days straight. These games were played to settle inter-tribal disputes, to toughen young warriors in preparation for future combat and to give thanks to the Creator. The Alqonquin tribes referred to the sport as "baggataway".
The game became known to Westerners when a French Jesuit Missionary, Jean de Brébeuf, saw the Iroquois tribesmen play it in 1636. It has often been assumed that the name lacrosse stems from the resemblance that a traditional wooden lacrosse stick bears to a bishop's crosier. Jesuit missionary Jean-de-Brébeuf noted this resemblance in the Relation des Jésuites around 1640. However, the word crosse in the French of that time period was a general term used for any type of staff. The name lacrosse is simply a reflection of this and is perhaps shorthand for the phrase "le jeu de la crosse" (the game of the hooked stick).
As Europeans invaded the Americas, the traditional native game evolved into a more "traditional" sport with universal equipment and rules. For centuries, the game was only prevalent in East Coast areas where the Iroquois version of lacrosse was codified.

The NCAA, NFHS, and MLL play similar versions of field lacrosse. Every four years there are international field lacrosse championships, which have been dominated by the United States with eight gold medals (out of ten). Canada, with two golds, is the only other team to win the international game. Unlike every other sport, lacrosse allows the Iroquois Confederacy to field a team, which is typically ranked in the top five. Australia, England, Ireland, and Scotland are also fairly successful.

Field lacrosse involves two teams, each competing to project a small ball of solid rubber into the opposing team's goal. Each team starts with ten players on the field: a goalkeeper or "goalie"; three defenders in the defensive end; three midfielders free to roam the whole field; and three attackers attempting to score goals in the offensive end.
Each quarter starts with a “face-off” in which the ball is placed on the ground and two “face-off-men” lay their stick horizontally next to the ball, head of the stick inches from the ball and the butt-end pointing down the midfield line. Face-off-men scrap for the ball, often by “clamping” it under their stick and flicking it out to their midfielders, who start on the wing restraining line near the sideline and sprint in when the whistle is blown to start play. Attackers and defenders cannot cross their “restraining line” until one player from the midfield takes possession of the ball or the ball crosses the restraining line. A face-off also restarts the game after each goal.

Players scoop the ball off the ground with their stick and may run carrying the ball in their stick, pass the ball through the air to other players, or throw it at the goal. In men's lacrosse, players may kick the ball, as well as cover it with their sticks, provided they do not withhold it from play.

Time continues to run in dead ball situations such as in between goals, with two exceptions: when the referees deem it necessary to avoid a significant loss of playing time, for example when chasing a ball shot far away or during care of an injured player; and in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter of any men’s game.

Play is quite fast and fluid with typical games totaling ten to twenty goals.

Basic Rules:

Offensive vs. Defensive Players- the offense consists of three attackmen and three midfielders all of whom use short sticks. The defense consists of three midfielders, three defensemen, and a goalie. Defensemen are known to use longer stick than midfielders and attackmen. On defense, teams are allowed to trade out one short stick player for another long stick player. Unsurprisingly, this player is called a long-stick midfielder (LSM).[Referred to in more detail below] Teams may also sub in a short-stick midfielder that specializes in defensive play, called a Defensive Midfielder (DM).

Offsides- this occurs when there are more than six players (three midfielders/three attackmen or three midfielders/three defensemen) on one half of the field. Midfielders are known to run the whole field but it is seldom during a game that an attackman or defenseman leave their offensive and defensive zones. Their zones are separated by the midfield line. However, defensemen and attackmen can cross the midfield line when a midfielder "stays back" and temporarily trades positions with him.

Crease- the crease is the circle surrounding the goal. This is the goalie's home. Defensemen are allowed to cross through the crease but players on offense are not. It is within this area that the goalie cannot be hit and players cannot make contact with the goalie's stick when he is in full possession of the ball.

The field of play is 110 yards (100 m) long and 60 yards (54 m) wide. The goals are 6 feet (1.8 m) by 6 feet, containing a mesh netting similar to an ice hockey goal. The goal sits inside a circular "crease", measuring 18 feet (5.5 m) in diameter. Behind the crease is the area designated simply as "X".One Attackman will remain at "X" in most types of offensive setups, such as chasing after a shot in which the first player to the spot where the ball went out gets possession of the ball.

Each player carries a lacrosse stick measuring between 40 inches (101.6 centimeters) and 42 inches (106.68 centimeters) long (a "short crosse"), or 52 inches (132.08 centimeters) to 72 (182.88 centimeters) long (a "long crosse"). The designated goalkeeper is allowed to have a stick from 40 inches (101.6 centimeters) to 72 inches (182.88 centimeters) long. The head of the crosse on both long and short crosses must be 6.5 inches or larger at its widest point and 2.5 inches wide or wider at its narrowest point.

The head of a goalkeeper's crosse may measure up to 15 inches (38.1 centimeters) wide, significantly larger than field players' heads to assist in blocking shots. Goalies at the youth levels commonly use shorter crosses. Although most attackmen and midfielders utilize short crosses, defensemen carry long crosses, and one midfielder on defense may carry a long crosse. Some teams choose to distribute their sticks differently, not uncommon because a team may only have 4 long crosses on the field during live play, excluding penalty boxes. Most modern sticks have a metal shaft, usually made of aluminum,titanium or alloys while the head is made of hard plastic. Metal shafts must have a plastic or a more popular rubber cap at the end. The heads are strung with string, leather, and mesh. The strings in the "pocket" are called shooting strings and accuracy or "v" strings.

Male players are required to wear helmets, gloves (much like hokey gloves), shoulder pads, and elbow pads.Women players are only required to wear eye protection since contact is not allowed in women's lacrosse.Athletic supporters and protective cups for all male players are also strongly recommended and often required.
Field lacrosse can be played on any flat or slightly crowned surface. This means that any soccer or football field in Des Moines could potentially make an ideal place to play. The Cownie Soccer Complex or one of the youth associations would make an ideal home for a larger organization with youth leagues and whatnot. Any high school stadium in the metro has the potential to be a decent field for a Great Plains Lacrosse League team.
On the national level, NCAA schools pretty much only pay attention to field lacrosse when recruiting and ranking players. Since all of their programs are field, this makes absolute sense. The high school league in Omaha is a field program, and I envision central Iowa teens playing against them someday soon.
Obviously, Field Lacrosse is what I see as the ultimate goal for lacrosse in central Iowa. My plan is to have some sort of organized field lacrosse by 2010. I would like to have enough men to at least have regular scrimmage games. From these players, a GPLL team could be formed to compete as early as 2011. Until then, I would like to introduce lacrosse, get some officials trained, and play whatever form of lacrosse we can. Women do not typically play men's lacrosse, but considering the current absence of the sport in the metro, we can work around that. Teens are also not typically allowed to play with adults, but this rule can be overlooked for now as well. If things go as well as I hope in the next few months, I see no reason why a rudimentary form of a local field lacrosse league cannot exist.

Supplemental information obtained from: Wikipedia

Continue to Part 3

Tribe 7