As a coach of both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, I found Edgar Allen Beem’s labeling of lacrosse rules as “sexist nonsense” harsh and historically inaccurate.
Lacrosse is a Native American game that takes its name from the Jesuit priests’ (mis)interpretation of the Iroquois sticks as ecclesiastical crosiers. In the 1880s a group of barnstorming Iroquois lacrosse players toured the world. The game caught on at the tour sites, and many of those locations remain lacrosse hotbeds today. Each location “tweaked” the game and the rules. In 1890, in Scotland, at the St. Leonard’s School, the first women’s lacrosse game was played, with the participants demonstrating their own interpretation. That adaptation is the root of today’s women’s game.
Today both games thrive and both games are part of the 218 percent growth that has made lacrosse the fastest growing sport in our country over the past decade. I agree with the assertion that men and women could and should play the same sport. I disagree with Beem’s assertion that the reason the men and women play by different rules is sexism; the two sports just evolved differently. Also, Beem’s suggestion that the women should play the men’s game seems to me to be inherently sexist. Any discussion of combining the two sports should include having the men adapt the women’s game. Personally, I think the answer lies in combining the best of both sports.