provisional recognition to the Federation of International Lacrosse — a development that bolsters the sport’s potential to return to the Olympic Games.

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PHOTO BY ADAM SCOTT

Olympic Recognition: What It Means and Why It Matters


The lacrosse world rejoiced Nov. 30 when the International Olympic Committee granted provisional recognition to the Federation of International Lacrosse — a development that bolsters the sport’s potential to return to the Olympic Games.

The following editorial by US Lacrosse CEO and FIL vice president Steve Stenersen and subsequent article appear in the upcoming edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse to start your subscription today.

Olympic Recognition

History was made Nov. 30, 2018, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board voted to provisionally recognize the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL).

It is perhaps the biggest milestone in the sport’s modern history and a critical step towards the FIL’s strategic vision to return the sport to the Olympic program by 2028. The IOC’s decision also introduces the opportunity for US Lacrosse to be recognized by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and welcomed formally into our nation’s Olympic family.

Every US Lacrosse member and donor has a stake in this achievement. There are a number of people whose focused dedication to international lacrosse over the decades positioned us for this moment. But US Lacrosse’s investment has played a significant role in the international lacrosse community for many years, as well, hosting world championships, fueling international development efforts, providing volunteer leadership to the international body, fielding national teams that have represented the sport with distinction, and evolving a best-practice organization that has served as a model for other nations. None of this would be possible without your support over the past two decades.

The announcement has been met with overwhelming support and enthusiasm, but some people have expressed concern about the development of new men’s and women’s disciplines of the sport to better position lacrosse for inclusion in the Olympic program.

The Native American game has undergone considerable change and growth since it was first observed by Jesuit missionaries in 1636. Continuing to evolve the ancient stick-and-ball game to maximize its popularity should be our primary motivation. IOC recognition will accelerate international development, and inclusion in the Olympic Games would provide an unparalleled opportunity to showcase our sport to the world. Whatever form these new disciplines may take, they will be fun to play and exciting to watch, introducing a new chapter in our sport’s long and storied history.

—  Steve Stenersen
@uslacrosseceo


Every US Lacrosse member and donor has a stake in this achievement.


What It Means and Why It Matters

The International Olympic Committee granted provisional recognition status to the Federation of International Lacrosse during the IOC Executive Board meeting Nov. 20 in Tokyo.

“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. “IOC recognition will strengthen the profile of lacrosse in all FIL member countries and propel the sport to greater expansion throughout the world.”

The news was met with great enthusiasm from the lacrosse community, especially those who yearn to see lacrosse return to the Olympic Games. 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 1928, 1932 and 1948.

Here’s what IOC recognition means and why it matters.








Funding for Development

The FIL can now receive financial support from the IOC and apply for development programs. The same dynamic applies to the 62 FIL member nations and their respective Olympic bodies and sports ministries. “This decision will assist us and our member nations as we work to create opportunities for participation around the world,” FIL president Sue Redfern said.

LA 2028

This puts the FIL on course to reach its stated goal of having lacrosse included as part of the Olympic program when the Summer Games come to Los Angeles in 2028. Provisional recognition does not guarantee this outcome, but it is a major step in the right direction.

Olympic-Style Rules

The FIL is experimenting with rules that would create new disciplines of men’s and women’s lacrosse that would better position the sport for inclusion in the Olympics. Paramount to that effort is limiting the number of players per side.The IOC restricts the Summer Games to 10,500 athletes and 310 events. Team sports wielding large rosters face longer odds.




PHOTO BY MIKEY WALLIN


Next Three Years

The provisional recognition period is three years, after which the FIL can file a petition establishing its criteria of eligibility for the Olympic Games. The Olympic Charter states that a sport must be practiced widely by men in 75 countries on four continents and by women in 40 countries on three continents. Media and public interest also are factors. There’s work to be done.

Birmingham 2021

Lacrosse’s case for inclusion in the Olympic program would benefit greatly from a strong showing when The World Games come to Birmingham, Ala., in 2021. Both men’s and women’s lacrosse competitions will be held in the quadrennial event.

How We Got Here

2008 • IFWLA and ILF merge, implement World Anti-Doping Agency protocol

2012 • FIL accepted into SportAccord 

2013 • IWGA membership

2014 • Added as participant sport in IWGA World Games

2017 • IWGA World Games in Wroclaw, Poland

2018 • IOC provisional recognition

— Brian Logue and Matt DaSilva