After 120 years, Lacrosse will be making its return as a medal sport in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Lacrosse isn't exactly the most mainstream sport in the U.S. right now, but those in the community are excited for more people to learn about it.
This will be the sixth time lacrosse has been included in the Olympics, with the most recent being a demonstration in 1948 and the last medal competition taking place at the 1908 London Games.
USA Lacrosse CEO Marc Riccio said the process of bringing it back started about seven or eight years ago. He gave credit to his predecessor Steve Stenersen and World Lacrosse, the international governing body of the sport.
"The real process has just started. Now it's about how we turn this into an opportunity," Riccio told CBS Sports. "Even just the fact that we've been talking about lacrosse with people who otherwise we would not be talking to about lacrosse all over the U.S. and over the world."
Lacrosse was one ofby the International Olympic Committee, along with baseball, softball, cricket and squash. These sports represent different parts of American culture, with lacrosse originally being played by indigenous tribes in North America centuries before the arrival of Europeans.
"It's a really compelling story. When you listen to stories told by elders, and those in the Native American community, the first game of lacrosse was between the land animals and the air animals," Riccio said. "The story shows that the game is for everyone. From the mouse, to the deer, to the sparrow, to the eagle. The game is about inclusivity, it's about positivity and friendship."
Lacrosse was played to help toughen up young warriors, but it was also played for recreation and religious reasons. One of its other names is the medicine game.
"Yes, the game was used to train warriors, but it was also used to settle disputes," Riccio said. "The game is called the medicine game because it is about healing, and medicine makes you feel better. When you play the game with a clear mind and a clear spirit, you feel better.
"Learning about it is important and it matters. It does make our game different. We are very fortunate that we have this and that Native Americans shared the game with us."
There are a few different versions of the game, and the one chosen for the Olympics will be Sixes. World Lacrosse describes it as "an incredibly fast-paced, compact version of lacrosse." It is played 6-on-6 on a grass or turf field, leading to high-scoring action.
The game is divided into eight-minute quarters with a five-minute halftime. There are no specialist positions, only runners and goalies. Sixes was created in 2018 to help with the sport's approachability, and although it is still fairly new, this version of lacrosse is now accomplishing its mission on an Olympic stage.
"People who know the game are thrilled. People who don't know or only casually know about the game are now being exposed to it," Riccio said. "It will be an opportunity to see the game and that is really important.
"Ultimately, our mission is to field the growth, enrich the experience and field the best national team. The Olympics is an opportunity to bring all of that to life."