A great many players, parents, coaches and fans are wondering when lacrosse will be formally included as an Olympic sport. The good news is that on Nov. 30, 2018, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded provisional recognition to the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL). That means that it could be possible for the sport to return to the Olympic arena by 2028.
Lacrosse at the Olympics has an interesting trajectory. It was played at the Summer Olympic Games in 1904 and 1908 and every team that’s ever participated won medals. After 1908, it was played as a demonstration event at the Summer Olympics in 1928, 1932 and 1948. Lacrosse was taken out of the Olympics because at that time it wasn’t administered by an international federation.
Official recognition of lacrosse by the International Olympic Committee represents a milestone in the sports evolution and the game’s potential comeback to the Olympics. It means that the Federation of International Lacrosse is eligible for financial support from the IOC to develop lacrosse programs.
The 2018 recognition of lacrosse by the IOC in 2018 provides a potential pathway for the sport to officially return to the international competition. However, a number of people involved in the sport have reservations and are apprehensive about changes that could potentially be made to the game for it to conform to the rules of inclusion set forth by the Olympic program.
The IOC limits the Summer Games to 310 events and 10,500 athletes. To participate, the Olympic Charter mandates that a sport must be widely practiced by men in 75 countries on four continents. The rules for women is that a sport must be widely practiced in 40 countries and on three continents.
Even if all of the IOC’s rules and regulations are met, there’s still no guarantee that men’s or women’s lacrosse will return to the Olympics, but the IOC recognition is the first step. It’s guaranteed that public interest will play a role, but perhaps even more importantly will be the media coverage that the sport can garner.