Lacrosse’s new, fast-paced version may be path into LA Games

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DENVER — Lacrosse player/coach/board member Dana Dobbie embraces this fast-paced new version of her sport called the “Sixes.”

Not because the 37-year-old helped shape the blueprint for the cranked-up format that spawns a plethora of attacks. Not because Dobbie helped Team Canada win a gold medal at last month’s World Games in Birmingham, Alabama.

That’s because: It could just be the version that brings lacrosse – invented by Native Americans centuries ago – into the Olympic program for the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Lacrosse competes with baseball/softball, cricket, flag football, break dancing, karate, kickboxing, squash and motor sports for a possible spot when the Summer Games return to North America for the first time since Atlanta 1996. The competing sports should find out their entry status ahead of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Mumbai sometime in mid-2023. There are currently 28 sports on the LA Olympic program.

Dobbie and the lacrosse community are envisioning the possibilities of a return of a sport — think basketball meets soccer meets hockey — that was once in the Olympics. Lacrosse was part of the 1904 games in St. Louis and four years later in London. It last appeared as a demonstration sport at the 1948 Olympic Games, also in London.

“People are going to be so excited to watch and once they see the first game I think we’re going to lock them up,” said Dobbie, who plays, coaches and serves on the World Lacrosse board of directors at Loyola University in Maryland as deputy chairman of the athletes’ commission. “We will have many new fans from all over the world as soon as they see it for the first time.”

Dobbie played a role in fine-tuning this 6v6 form of warp-speed lacrosse. It features a 30-second shot clock and no point faceoffs, with goaltenders initiating play. The game also consists of four 8-minute quarters and is played on a smaller field. There are also reduced roster sizes.

Translation: exactly what the IOC is looking for. The optimized game was inspired by the Rugby Sevens that made it at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Not only that, but 3-on-3 basketball, which made its debut at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

“I wish I could jump back 10 years in a time machine because I grew up playing basketball and this version of lacrosse and the short field “Sixes” format is as close to lacrosse meets basketball as I have ever seen. said Paul Rabil, the 36-year-old retired lacrosse legend who founded the Premier Lacrosse League with his brother Mike. “So I would make an effort to participate in this promotion.”

That growth of lacrosse has been on an upward trend for the last two decades. According to World Lacrosse, the sport’s governing body, the number of member federations has grown from 12 in 2002 to 77 today. The Africa Association of Lacrosse was formed earlier this year to represent lacrosse in each of the five continental regions recognized by the IOC: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

world lacrosse recently launched a campaign to celebrate the origin and growth of the sport. This initiative, titled “LAX: Indigenous Made, Globally Played” (hashtag: #LAX28), was designed to highlight their Olympic credentials.

Founded in 2018 and officially launched in 2020, Lacrosse Sixes – or “Sixes” – is a modern take on what is believed to be the oldest team sport in North America.

The new version was exhibited at the World Games, an event featuring more than 30 sports and many not on the current Olympic schedule. There was standing room only for the men’s medals (Team Canada won the gold) and nearly full for the women’s championship.

Rabil can only imagine the upswing if lacrosse were included in the “LA28 Games”.

“When you’re that next generation and you see your favorite sport compete for a gold medal on the Olympic stage, it makes you feel special,” Rabil said. “Maybe a new fire will be lit and you’ll chase that dream of becoming an Olympian.”

The picture told the story: Dobbie had held the gold medal firmly in her left hand and tucked a section of lacrosse net into her jersey. A beaming smile too as she posed with her Canadian teammates.

This was the celebratory scene after helping Team Canada defeat the United States 14-12 in the World Games finals.

For the chance of a similar celebration at the “LA28 Games”, Dobbie might even be willing to hold on as a player for a while.

“I can’t say no, but I can’t say yes either. We’re just going to keep it up in the air,” Dobbie said, laughing. “Lacrosse and the Olympics — that has a nice ring to it.”

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