Hockey’s position as Canada’s national sport is known worldwide, but it is certainly not the only sporting pastime we can take pride in. Lacrosse originated with the Plains Indians whose territory at the time was within what would become our national boundaries. The game would change in concept and rules considerably during the years that followed, eventually becoming the form of lacrosse we recognize today.
Earlier iterations of the game involved many native players and could sometimes last for entire days. It also tended to be quite violent, offering no protective equipment. European settlers adopted the basics, but scaled the size down considerably. The sport grew in popularity and the government declared it our national game in 1859.
Lacrosse continued to evolve and in 1867, the year of Canada’s confederation, the version we know now became more apparent. Games were shorter and the ball now rubber (rather than the wooden balls or small animal skulls used by the Indigenous participants).
For a few years, the play sometimes equaled the fierce physicality seen previously, particularly when Catholic and Protestant teams took to the field against each other. However, the level of violence shown caused some lacrosse leagues to fold and the game gradually became more concerned with presenting athletic competition, rather than bloody spectacle.
Lacrosse was an outdoor pastime up until the 1930s when an indoor variation, also known as box lacrosse, appeared. Like many sports, one could only enjoy field lacrosse for a few months a year in Canada, due to the length and severity of winter; box lacrosse solved that issue.
Each box lacrosse team can have 18 players, with no more than six playing at any time, one being the goaltender.
Players cannot step into the crease of the opposing goalie; if so and they score, the goal does not count. Each game consists of four 15-minute quarters. There are no ties, so the match goes into a series of five-minute overtime periods until someone scores the winning point.
Lacrosse is quite fast paced and the rules reflect that. A team must get a shot off at the other goal within 30 seconds, or they lose possession of the ball. They also must continually advance toward the opposing net; if more than eight seconds have passed and they have not gotten the ball past the mid-field point, they lose possession.
Box lacrosse also has some similarities to hockey. In addition to each team trying to score the most goals, fights occasionally break out. Penalties ensue for this and other rule violations, and the durations are much like those in hockey.
Box Lacrosse in a Dome
Box lacrosse matches often took place in conventional arenas, but air-supported domes also now offer a highly viable alternative. The space available means no rule changes are necessary and the climate-controlled environment guarantees that proper playing conditions are available all-year-round.
While field lacrosse games still happen frequently in this country, box lacrosse has superseded it in terms of popularity. Interesting in trying this fast and exciting sport? Contact your local dome to see when playing time is available or if there is a league in the area.