Sunday, April 24, 2016

May Madness Time For Lacrosse, The Fastest Game On Two Feet

Lacrosse fans who were fortunate enough to see North Carolina's stunning fourth quarter comeback and eventual take down of top-ranked Notre Dame yesterday know full-well the excitement of the game. Arguably it will go down as one of the best contests in living memory. Had it gone to overtime and a Carolina victory the game could have easily moved into the "best ever" status.

An Indian Ball-Play                                       George Catlin, American, 1846-50

From now through Memorial Day weekend college lacrosse teams across the country will play in a number of conference championships. Lacrosse's "May Madness" ends in the NCAA Men's National Championship games in Philadelphia.

Lacrosse is an ancient American sport, dating from about 1000 C.E. In it's early days, the game had a religious significance. Sides could consist of as many as a few thousand players and the losing side sometimes paid with their lives. Fast forward to today and you could say the game still has that religious fervor if you live from Maryland to New England, that part of the country where three- year-old boys get little lacrosse sticks for Christmas. These days, the teams are a bit smaller - ten players to a side - and there's almost always some bloodshed of the non-fatal variety.  For the who, how, what and why of the game, visit, the home of the national governing body of lacrosse.

The glory days for lacrosse at my alma mater, the Univerisity of Maryland

The game is furious and fast and it continues to be the fastest growing sport in the United States, even eclipsing the growth of soccer. Just a generation ago, the game at the college level was a virtually exclusive sport heavily anchored in the Ivy League and the Northeast. Today there are more than sixty Division I teams found on the East and West Coasts and at the flagship universities in the flyover country. Each year that number grows by two or three teams. Expansion in other college divisions and at the middle and high school levels is much greater. I'd say there is an outstanding future in store for lacrosse. 

For comprehensive information about high school, college and professional lacrosse teams, schedules, news, and broadcast coverage, visit  The ESPN television broadcast schedule for the NCAA tournament can be found here.  



Photos and Illustrations:
Catlin painting, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington;
1955 photo, University of Maryland, The Terrapin, p. 228

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