Is Olympic lacrosse possible?

Anyone living in the UK at the moment – or indeed anywhere else in the world – is more than likely surrounded bby the hysteria and hype of the London 2012 Olympics.

This Wednesday (July 27) signals the start of the one year countdown to the epic event and the beginning of what is sure to be an an endless string of advertisments, merchandising and over the top enthusiasm for 2012.

I am currently working on the Olympics desk at the Daily Telegraph and therefore have been unable to avoid throwing myself into the hype surrounding the Games. Each day brings

new athlete facts, sporting rules and regulations and news stories about the latest ticketing disaster. Don’t get me wrong, I myself am not immune to the excitement of the ocassion and spending every working hour submerged in Olympic trivia has done nothing but stoke my enthusiasm for the Games.

Learning about all the different qualifying criteria and intricacies behind each sport has lead me to wonder, however, whether it is possible for lacrosse to ever truly become an Olympic sport. Having played lacrosse for many years, I would love to see the sport recognised on an international level beyond the immediate lacrosse community – i.e. at an elite level other than the World Championships, where the sport’s top athletes can compete alongside other similarly talented athletes from other sports.

Lacrosse featured as an Olympic sport in 1904 and 1908

For the game to be recognised in such a way would be incredible, not least because it would mean less people pointing and staring everytime I take my lacrosse stick on public transport! For those of you who doubt whether the Olympic committee even know what lacrosse is, remember that it has been featured as a demonstration sport a couple of times before and, wait for it, has actually been contested as an official Olympic sport TWICE – in 1904 and 1908, with Canada claiming victory in both years.

However, in order for the sport to become a part of the Olympics, it would have to go through some intense changes – in the administrative, behind-the-scenes organisation and the game itself. The question I ask is – would the changes be worth it?

The ELA have already begun making changes to the structure of the leagues in the UK and are making the move from territorial lacrosse to regional in an attempt to tie in with the government’s organsation and funding of sport. Understandable, especially if these changes will guarantee more funding for the growth of the sport in coming years. In order to meet with Olympic criteria, however, the sport’s organsation would have to

change again to form a ‘Team GB’ type governing body with smaller organisations in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. Again, while complicated, these changes are entirely achievable.

But it’s the alterations to the game itself that I believe would meet with serious resistance from the sport’s longer-serving players. Lacrosse would, without a doubt, have to undergo some pretty serious changes before it could ever be accepted into the Olympic fold. Firstly, the men’s and the women’s games would need to become one. Same pitch, same rules and therefore same equipment. Would players be willing to make these sacrifices in order for the sport to join the legacy of the Games?

While I know it is unlikely to happen for a number of years – they have just announced that cricket won’t be in the Olympics until 2020 at the earliest and the International Cricket Council have been campaigning since 2004 – it is something to think about

Only men were able to play the game when it first featured in the Olympics

, particularly as so many are keen to see the sport grow and develop in the coming years.

So, I remain unsure about the possibility of lacrosse being inducted into the Olympic sporting hall of fame. What are your thoughts on the topic? Are you an avid Olympic lacrosse supporter (have you joined the Facebook group?!) or a staunch traditionalist who wants lacrosse to remain as it is? Let us know!