lacrosse (ləkrôsˈ) [key], ball and goal game usually played outdoors by two teams of 10 players each on a field 60 to 70 yd (54.86 to 64.01 m) wide by 110 yd (100.58 m) long. Two goals face each other 80 yd (73.15 m) apart; each cone-shaped goal is 6 ft (1.8 m) square at the mouth and 7 ft (2.13 m) deep. The ball, about 8 in. (20 cm) in circumference and about 5 oz (.14 kg) in weight, is made of hard rubber. The stick, or crosse—from which the game gets its name because of the traditional stick's resemblance to a bishop's crosier—consists of a handle and an adjustable, pocketlike meshwork head in which the ball is received, carried, and passed. Teams direct their play toward advancing the ball so as to hurl or kick it into the opponent's goal (each goal counting one point). The team scoring the most points wins. Only the goalkeeper may touch the ball with his hands, and no other player may enter the crease—the 18 ft x 12 ft (5.49 m x 3.66 m) area surrounding the goal. Lacrosse is a game of rough physical contact; personal and technical fouls lead to disqualification or to temporary suspensions (as in ice hockey) that leave the penalized team a player short. A referee and a judge are the officials. A game is divided into four quarters of 25 min each; two overtime periods of 5 min each are played in the event of a tie. The game was developed as a war-training and spiritual exercise by North American natives. Called "baggataway," it was violent and had few fixed rules. Adopted and named lacrosse by French settlers, it became increasingly popular. In 1856 the Montreal Lacrosse Club was organized, and in 1860 the rules of the game were standardized. After Parliament adopted (1867) lacrosse as the national game of Canada, the National Lacrosse Association (now the Canadian Lacrosse Association) was established as the governing body of the sport. Lacrosse has attracted a wide amateur following since that time, and was formerly (1920–32) played professionally in Canada by 12-man teams. Introduced into the United States in the 1870s, it is now a popular college, school, and club game in the eastern United States. The United States has dominated international play, in which Canada, Australia, and the Iroquois Nation have also been prominent. Women's lacrosse, developed in England in the early 1900s, is less rough than the men's game. Box lacrosse, an indoor version played in hockey rinks, is played professionally in Canada and the United States.
See A. M. Weyand and M. R. Roberts, The Lacrosse Story (1965); P. E. Hartman, Lacrosse Fundamentals (1968).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.