Kayla Wood, Charlotte North

Lacrosse to return to Olympics at 2028 Los Angeles Games

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Kait Devir
Alexandra Licata
Oct 16, 2023

Lacrosse will return to the Olympics at the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Following a recommendation from the LA28 Organizing Committee, the International Olympic Committee approved the addition at its session in Mumbai, India.

The sport was last included as a demonstration sport at the 1948 Games and a medal sport at the 1908 Games, which were both held in London.

“It’s been so long since lacrosse has been in the Olympics and when you think of the meaning of it, the Olympics is the pinnacle of any competition,” said Athletes Unlimited Director of Sport for Lacrosse, Abi Jackson. “I’m so happy for these athletes that are going to have an opportunity to represent their country playing a sport that is so critical in their lives and in our lives as members of the lacrosse community.”

The Olympics will feature the Sixes discipline, a fast-paced version of lacrosse played on a smaller field (70 x 36 meters), with fewer players (6 v 6), a condensed game length (four 8-minute quarters), and a 30-second shot clock.

Not only is Sixes expected to bring exciting competition to the world stage, but it also highlights a more accessible form of the sport for both youth and underserved communities – a priority of the group tasked with proving Lacrosse a worthy candidate.

“I think it’s going to provide kids, younger kids, with a more positive opportunity to learn the game without the restraining line. In traditional lacrosse and the attacking players and the defensive players, your opportunities to touch the ball are more limited,” Jackson said. “But in a Sixes format, everyone is involved because everyone has to be involved.”

The United States Women’s National Team most recently took home the gold medal in the World Lacrosse Super Sixes tournament. The format was also featured for both men and women at the 2022 World Games, where 30 nations across Europe, Asia and the Americas qualified.

“This is the ideal way to take the sport of lacrosse and mix it in the most sort of comprehensive manner with athleticism and allow some of these athletes – who just have these unbelievable engines and they have this incredible athletic prowess, whether it be speed or power or quickness – They’re really able to get super creative and put on a pretty phenomenal show, I think, for the world.”

Lacrosse being named to the Olympic Games follows a multi-decade initiative. It is the oldest team sport in North America and originated among Indigenous communities, where it held significant cultural importance as the Creator’s Game.

The sport gained full International Olympic Committee recognition in 2021 and a group representing men’s & women’s professional lacrosse in the U.S. and across the world were then tasked with demonstrating why the sport should be included at the 2028 Games.

“We had to be able to demonstrate that lacrosse is a game that is accessible. We had to demonstrate diversity or a trajectory towards increasing diversity and with this particular sport it’s tough in that arena,” Jackson said. “However, such a big part, obviously, of [Athletes Unlimited’s] mission, and the PLL as well, is outreach and getting more players and youth players at all ages of underrepresented communities to participate in lacrosse.”

Jackson, who grew up in Boston, recalls seeing the sport, which was primarily available in private schools, begin being offered by public schools as well.

Over the last 20 years, the sport has grown exponentially on both a collegiate and youth level. In 2020, U.S Lacrosse reported that lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport among the youth demographic. The sport is played in nearly every state but is an officially sanctioned state championship sport for both boys and girls in 24 states. Most recently, it was added to Wisconsin (2024) and Tennessee (2025).

“I think as it’s a pretty established fact, that lacrosse right now is pretty homogenous. The quality comprehensive programs that have deep infrastructure, they’re typically in wealthy areas in the suburbs of cities,” Jackson said.

“And now I think us, as sort of the leaders in the sport, are now going to be charged with how we can redistribute that passion and focus and infrastructure to some of these more underrepresented and non-traditional areas, not only of urban areas, but of the country … And I think Sixes will help us do that. And the more people that are playing, the more diverse the sport the sport gets and the more rich our culture becomes.”

Lacrosse will be joined by Baseball/softball, cricket (T20), flag football, and squash as additional sports for the 2028 Summer Games, which will take place from July 14 to July 30, 2028 in and around Los Angeles, Calif.

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