Lacrosse

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Lacrosse Takes a Big Step toward the Olympics

12 Dec, 2018

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Achievement of Provisional Status at IOC Meeting Could Be First Step on Path to Medal Podium

Good news coming out of the IOC: three sports have been granted provisional recognition.

Even better news, at least for the U.S. where the sport is wildly popular: one of them is lacrosse. The other two, sambo and kickboxing, also enjoy popularity here, but unlike lacrosse, are not widely offered in schools and at the travel team level.

According to an article in Inside The Games, as a result of recognition, the international federations of the three sports will now be able to receive funding from the IOC and able to apply for grants to help propel forward their developmental programs.

Full recognition has to be granted by the IOC Session – but the provisional status, the first step, is welcome news for the sports, whose leaders would like to see them eligible for medals in future Games. IGBs who receive provisional status find it to be an affirmation of their value and that it serves to give the sports added credibility.

Provisional IOC recognition is granted for a period of three years. IOC officials have repeatedly noted that provisional status does not guarantee inclusion in the Olympic Games. In 2016, for example, competitive cheer was granted provisional IOC status; however, it has not yet been granted full recognition. The martial arts discipline of muay thai was also granted provisional recognition at that time; it has not yet reached full IOC status either.

The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) says the new status will allow the organization to enhance the development of the sport. The governing body, founded in 2008, noted their journey to the provisional recognition began with the merger of the Men’s and Women’s International Federations. The FIL now has 62 members.

"The IOC’s Executive Board’s decision to provisionally recognize FIL has created a major milestone for the sport of lacrosse," said FIL President Sue Redfern. "FIL is truly honored to have received this recognition by the IOC. This decision will assist us and our member nations as we work to create opportunities for participation in the sport of lacrosse around the world."

"I can’t think of a more significant milestone in the sport’s history," said Steve Stenersen, CEO of US Lacrosse and vice president of the FIL. "This decision is a wonderful recognition of the efforts of so many individuals throughout the world whose commitment and passion over many years has positioned our sport for this moment. IOC recognition will strengthen the profile of lacrosse in all FIL member countries and propel the sport to greater expansion throughout the world. Additionally, it will strengthen the relationship between US Lacrosse and the United States Olympic Committee."

The sport’s history in the Olympics dates to 1904 — it was conducted as a medal sport in 1904 and 1908 and was a demonstration sport in the 1928, 1932 and 1948 Olympic Games. In 2012, the FIL was formally accepted into SportAccord (now known as the Global Association of International Sports Federations), the umbrella organization for all Olympic and non-Olympic international sports federations.

In July 2017, lacrosse was featured as a championship sport at The World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, the first time the sport was included in the quadrennial event. The U.S. women’s team defeated Canada to win the inaugural gold medal. Both men’s and women’s lacrosse competitions will be held when The World Games come to Birmingham, Alabama, in 2021.

Sports planners can expect to see more marketability of their events, not just in lacrosse but in kickboxing and sambo as well.

Lacrosse, which recently vaulted into the National Federation of State High School Associations’ top-10 list of sports for girls according to student participation, is a top money-making tournament for destinations. This year, the 2018 Maverik National Lacrosse Classic in Frederica, Delaware, was named a winner in Sports Destination Management’s Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism. The event, honored as a Small Market champion, brought in 8,000 room nights and $3 million in economic impact. It drew 3,000 spectators and 2,000 athletes in grades 5 through 12 from 20 states and additionally provided athletes with exposure to 200-plus college coaches.

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