If lacrosse supporters have their way, their sport will follow in the footsteps of golf — and things in the year 2024 might look a bit like they did back in the first decade of the 20th century.
The FIL Lacrosse Championship begins Thursday, July 10 in Denver, where a record 38 nations will compete. Organizers of the U.S. squad say the high participation rate is a sign that lacrosse is gaining traction in its fight to return to the Olympics.
Lacrosse, like golf, was one of the earliest sports of the modern Olympics. Also like golf, Olympic medals have not been awarded in lacrosse in over 100 years; lacrosse was a medal sport at the 1904 and 1908 Olympics and a demonstration event at the 1948 London Olympics. Golf was a medal event at the 1904 St. Louis Games. But the two sports part ways there, because while lacrosse is still fighting to make its return to the Olympic stage, golf is set to be played in Rio in 2016.
As detailed by Lacrosse Magazine, Team USA took a break from prepping for its opening FIL Championship match against Canada when players and coaches toured the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs Monday night, and it was there they got a taste of what it would be like to be an Olympic team.
FIL director of development Tom Hayes told Lax Magazine that the sport is targeting 2024 for a return to the Olympics, and that several milestones have been met in recent years that have left him hopeful the goal is more than just a pipedream. In the last three years lacrosse has been accepted by SportAccord and the International World Games Association (IWGA), two major international sporting federations, and it was also awarded a berth in the 2017 IWGA World Games, which could serve as a platform to raise its international profile even higher.
“It’s like you’re in a dream. We’ve hit our target dates right on the money, every one of them,” Hayes said. “Now we’re wondering, there has to be some road bump somewhere, but who knows? If you’re a hot sport and they see the growth, not only in the number of countries but number of participants, who knows?”