Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Quest to set the record straight leads to thesis on history of lacrosse
I thought this was an interesting read.
When local writer Barbara Adamski pitched an idea for a story about the Salmonbellies and the city's passionate box lacrosse scene to The Walrus magazine a few years ago, she didn't expect it would lead to pursuing a Master's degree on the history of the sport.
The self-described "lacrosse mom," who enjoys the rough-and-tumble game from the safety of the stands rather than from on the floor, said she made the decision after coming across a veritable mountain of misinformation about one of Canada's official national sports while researching the article.
Take, for example, the common misconception that lacrosse is the official national sport instead of hockey, a quirk of Canadian history that can be traced to a Montreal dentist and lacrosse enthusiast named William George Beers, who apparently wanted this to be the case so badly it eventually became accepted as fact.
Beers wrote an early book about the game entitled Lacrosse: The National Game of Canada, published shortly after Confederation, and it turns out that most Canadians were willing to simply take his word on it.
"Beers was a huge advocate for the game and really wanted it to be the national sport," said Adamski. "He was saying it was the official national sport, but that was never on the record. So there's a whole controversy about that. It only became the official summer sport after somebody was researching it and realized 'hey, it's not even on the books.'"
In fact, it was only in 1994 that Kamloops MP Nelson Riis introduced a private member's bill nominating the more obvious and widely embraced candidate - hockey - to be the national sport that the issue even came up in Parliament. A compromise was eventually reached by naming hockey the official winter sport and lacrosse the summer counterpart, even though box (indoor) lacrosse has largely usurped field lacrosse in popularity.
Adamski eventually found so many "all over the map" discrepancies about the game that she turned her research into a Master of Arts thesis in Integrated Studies, which, among other things, also debunked the widely accepted story of how the game got its name.