The Rebirth of a New Sport

Orange, CA 02/28/09 -

It is the fastest growing sport in the United States in the modern day era. Yet, majority of the country has never heard of the sport or let alone know the rules in how to play. For a sport that has been around before our ancestors’ presence was made in America, it gets little recognition on a national level. What is not to enjoy or even respect about a sport that asks so much on a physical level? Men compete against one another in a violent way that is similar to football with physicality and hockey with the use of stick work and hand skills. Blood, sweat and tears, just like any other sport, are shed upon the countless hours men around the country put in. The sport in which I mention is lacrosse.

Recently in our Political Science class, we spoke of what the criteria is for a sport to be given the title as “national.” Throughout every different class there were several underlying themes that remained apparent. The most common themes mentioned in each group was that the sport was popular among the country, the level of play must vary, it must be accessible to view/media coverage and the sport is in someway culturally engrained to the country. All of which are valid qualities for a sport to be successful in a country. Sports obviously must be popular among the people to create revenue and gain media attention. The sport also must offer different levels of play such as recreational JV, varsity, inter-mural collegiate and professional for every person interested in participating to have a chance to showcase their skills or learn the basics of the game. Lastly it is necessary for the sport to have some cultural impact. Football for instance has become a corner stone of weekends for American families. It allows people to connect with one another through a common interest and share a Saturday or Sunday afternoon rooting on their hometown team.

In one of our readings, British Sports and Pastimes, the author goes in depth of  what a national sport means to the country of England. The novel explains the impact that sports have on a society both culturally and socially. He explains how sports in England have shaped and molded how people go about their business in their daily lives. Sports in essence have created a balance that allows those who work to take a step back. This meaning, that the balance between work and play has become a reality more than a fantasy. Men can provide for their family without taking time away from their leisure. It also created the idea of nationalism, which gave the English a sense of pride over of countries and allowed them to believe they were a step above the rest of the pack.

In my eyes lacrosse will fit these characteristics in America within the next decade. It is already growing at a rate in which most of our country will have some common knowledge of what the sport is and how it is played. Yes, it is not as popular as some of the lower tier sports in America, but it is making strides to get there. It is a fast moving sport filled with constant action and skill that keeps fans on their feet. Lacrosse is a sport that anyone can pick up and possess skill at with enough time and effort put forward. There are thousands of high school programs that offer spots for anyone interested in playing the sport. The collegiate level is the most known and intense form of lacrosse. With 67 D1 programs and over 1500 D2/D3 programs, college lacrosse is the most competitive form there is. As for professional it is still low grade, but it is continuing to bring in new sponsors and form new teams in new states such as Florida. It also has gained media coverage through ESPN over the years and has begun to create their first couple of superstars that are known around the athletic world. Players such as Paul Rabil and Rob Pannell, have made waves among the lacrosse world. They are now the poster boys of the sport with multiple sponsorships such as Red Bull, Wheaties, Warrior, Motive Pure and others.

native-american-lacrosseLastly and most importantly, lacrosse has been around before the dawn of America. Before we stepped foot on this soil, Native Americans roamed the lands with wooden sticks and a round rock ball which in turn was the birth of lacrosse. They used lacrosse as a means of preparation of war and a means to heal and please their God or Creater. In modern day society, lacrosse now gives our country a sense of nationalism for it will compete as an Olympic sport in the follow Olympics as summer event. With America as a heavy favorite, much like basketball, it is hard not to be proud of your country for being constant contender for the gold medal.

Although lacrosse isn’t seen by all as a national sport, it has definitely made steps in the right direction to become one. With heavy support and continuous growth it is hard to picture where this sport might be in the next 10 years.

The Timeless Relation between Games and Diplomacy

World Diplomacy – Picture Credit: Have a Cookie

Diplomacy is the art of dealing with people or countries in a sensitive and efficient way. Its importance and value has been respected since ancient times. In fact, the Chinese General Sun Tzu once wrote in his book The Art of War, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” His understanding on how diplomacy can single-handedly ended wars has been repeatedly proven in history through the centuries since his time.  Although not all diplomacy is related to war and peace, it is about making negotiations, building relations, and maintaining relations even in the presence of conflicts. Games and sports are a notable facet in history through which countries and people have applied diplomacy.

In Homer’s Illiad, the chapter on the funeral games for Patroclus is a prime example of diplomacy within a group through games. Achilles, the leader of the group, uses the games as a means to honor a fallen warrior, distribute the spoils of war, respect elderly soldiers, and as a way to keep his soldiers happy. His actions helped him maintain good relations with all his fellow soldiers. In addition, his abstinence from the Chariot Race (which he could have easily won) shows that he is willing to concede so that others have a chance in the race. Achilles, by his actions, displayed diplomacy on an individual level through the funeral games.

The funeral games from Homer’s poem bear a resemblance to a modern day games that also involve diplomacy: the Olympics. Although it may not seem so obvious at first, Olympics are one of best places to practice diplomacy.  One way countries can express their views is by choosing to participate or abstain from Olympics. One example of this use is the US boycott and attempts to convince others to boycott the Moscow Olympics in 1980 in retaliation for the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Although not effective in changing Russia’s views, it did inform them peacefully of U.S. disapproval. Another way countries have practiced diplomacy during the Olympics is through the simple act of attending. By setting aside any differences and attending to celebrate games, an opportunity presents itself for feuding countries to reconcile. The Olympic Truce, an idea taken from history and has been recently promoted to the spotlight, has been a major diplomatic movement that aims to temporarily pause all wars around the world during the Olympic games to perhaps pave the way for new relations. Although the idea has only recently been promoted, it has already shown major promise in the United Nations when all 193 member countries voted to approve the truce in 2011.  These ideas and actions entwine games and diplomacy through a timeless relation for the betterment of the world.

Image Credit: Using public domain images (1 and 2)