The sport of Lacrosse, which was invented by Native Americans hundreds of years ago, has seen many changes over time. Its original form used found sticks and rocks to settle arguments and train men for battle so they could become “better protectors for their wives.” As the sport evolved it was no longer intended as a way to protect women, rather, it included women and a league of their own eventually evolved. However, despite sharing many of the fundamental principles of the original men’s game, the rules of women’s lacrosse significantly differ from men’s. Many of the differences between men’s and women’s lacrosse are outlined in “The History of Lacrosse: A Comparison Between Men’s and Women’s Rules and Violence.” ( http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/31629/the_history_of_lacrosse_a_comparison_pg2.html?cat=7).
The article interviews a member of the College of New Jersey’s women’s lacrosse team, who states that female players “usually walk off the field with some pretty big black and blue marks.” It continues to talk about an injury that she received while playing, as well as injuries of other women lacrosse players. The article seems to paint the picture that the two sports are not that different after all, and ends by stating that “the one constant in lacrosse, women’s or men’s, is aggression.”
However, I content that the most significant difference between the two versions of the sport is aggression, not the one thing that is constant between the two. The men’s version of lacrosse, described by the article as “football on Viagra,” encourages violent behavior and body contact amongst players. Checking is seen as one of the most fundamental tactics of the men’s game, where a similar act could get a woman fouled out. Stick design, positioning, and many other factors play into how shockingly different the levels of contact in the two versions of the sport are.
Instead of trying to convince the audience that the women’s version of the sport can get just as aggressive as the men’s, it would have been more effective to acknowledge and question why the two versions are so different from one another. Is it because of the catharsis hypothesis—are men simply more aggressive by nature, and therefore need an outlet to take out their frustrations? In order to be respected does the women players need to portray increased beauty and grace? Were rules put in to place to minimize violence in the women’s version because they are supposed to “avoid getting roughed up, hurt, or dirty?
It is no secret that women’s lacrosse is a watered-down and less aggressive version of men’s lacrosse. Are the differing rules beneficial to women, because it increases participation and interest in the sport among women, or does it reinforce stereotypes that they are lesser and weaker than men?