The World Games 2022 men’s lacrosse competition will take place in Birmingham, Alabama, but the men’s Ireland Lacrosse team will not be participating. The team made the decision to give up their place in the eight-team tournament to make room for the Iroquois Nationals to compete.
Lacrosse is a sport invented by a confederacy of six First Nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora, called the Haudenosaunee Nation. Despite finishing third in the 2018 World Championships, the Iroquois were originally denied a place on the field by the International World Games Association. After outcry from the international sports community, the association changed their stance and said the team was eligible if it met to-be-determined criteria.
The Irish team’s withdrawal from the tournament now makes room for the Iroquois to take their rightful place in the competition. The Iroquois Nationals were initially excluded from the International World Games since they are not a sovereign nation and don’t have an Olympic Committee. However, the decision was reversed and the Irish team, who finished 12th in the previous worldwide competition, stepped aside to make room for the Iroquois team. Michael Kennedy, CEO of Ireland Lacrosse, said, “As much as our players would have been honored to compete, we know the right thing is for the Iroquois Nationals to represent our sport on this international stage.”
Amongst the rising popularity of lacrosse, many forget the indigenous origins of the sport. Denying the Iroquois Nationals a place in competition over questions of sovereignty is denying indigenous people a place in their own heritage, but actions of teams like Ireland Lacrosse pave the way for inclusion and fight against inequality in athletics.
Image source: USlaxmagazine.com