If we speak of the most popular games in Canada, most respondents would name ice hockey and soccer as their favorite sports to watch or to play. However, according to the National Sports of Canada Act, there are two national sports in Canada which are hockey and lacrosse. In this article, we will discuss both and go back into the past to see how these two sports developed into a national game of the country. The second part of the article is dedicated to the other sports events of Canada and their perspectives in the nearest future.
In 1964, it was found out hockey was related to as the primary sport of Canada non-officially. The same investigation was done regarding lacrosse, so there was a bill filed to determine the principal official sport in Canada. There was a range of discussions in Canada to make the choice, but finally, both sports were accepted by dividing them into two separate groups: national summer sport and national winter sport. Even though lacrosse is the official summer sport in Canada and ice hockey is the winter sport, the events are held during the whole year indoor and outdoor.
Lacross is the game of the Native Americans. The first mentions of lacrosse are associated with the 17 century before Europeans had established their colonies on the territories of the modern USA and Canada. Just like today, it was a game between two teams. However, at those times, each team had from a hundred to a thousand men. Thus, fields for the games were up to three kilometers long. This was a rather special sort of game which is hard to imagine nowadays: matches could last up to three days: not only due to the total number of players that could reach 2.000 people but also great enthusiasm and spiritual and religious basis. Before each lacrosse game, all players held their clubs in the air and called to the gods. In addition, lacrosse was a part of training for warriors as it requires a lot of stamina and agility. Sometimes such events were used instead of battles.
Today lacrosse has different variations and is also is a match between two teams of 10 or 6 people. The aim of the game is to score a goal into the posts of an opponent team with a small ball. The ball is driven by a special Lacrosse club: it looks like a hockey club but it has a net on its end which makes the whole construction look more like a butterfly net. The ball is mostly kept in the air.
The Europeans discovered Lacrosse in the 17 century, but they did not adopt it until 1844 when there was the first match in the Montreal Olympic club. The game was held between French and Native Indians opponents. Several years after, in 1856, the game was recognized, and the Montreal Lacrosse Club was established. It brought up the first official edition of a rulebook. This rulebook was edited by George Beers, who determined the size of a field, the number of players, and other nuances of the game. This rulebook was recognized and accepted by the National Canadian Lacrosse Association.
There are more than 30 lacrosse federations all over the world, but Canada still remains the principal country where lacrosse is the official national summer sport. The Canadian Association is the oldest one in the world and Canada annually holds junior and senior championships. There are two main types of a lacrosse match: box lacrosse and the open-air one. There are four box lacrosse games and three open lacrosse cups in Canada. It was also included in the Summer Olympics twice but now it is not acknowledged as one of the Olympic sports.
Lacrosse became a national game of Canada for its high demand among college and amateur leagues. There is the National Lacrosse League with two divisions and many amateur teams. The main advantage of the game is that amateur events do not require any special fields and can be played actually within the whole year, although is it officially recognized as the National Summer Sport. It is not so widespread in the world like the NHL and other national games like basketball, football, baseball, or hockey. For instance, if you check the Superbetting.com website, you will find that the search request ‘Lacrosse’ offers only five bookmakers who accept online bets on lacrosse events.
Ice Hockey is a game that instantly associates with Canada. Unlike Lacrosse, which is also the national sport, ice hockey is incomparably more popular. There is an ice hockey rink in reach city and every school, college and university have its own junior league. The major matches are always fully booked at the very beginning of sales and top stars of ice hockey become the idols of the nation. Hockey is Canada’s favorite sport and a national game.
The history of ice hockey is rather contradictory. It is commonly believed that hockey takes its origins in Montreal, however, some pieces of evidence claim that it set in Ontario or New Scotland. In addition, it is a well-known fact that games with similar rules played on ice with the use of clubs existed before ice hockey was declared a separate game: games of this kind were rather popular in Holland, England, and Scandinavian countries. Although there are many controversies about the game’s origin, the motherland of classical ice hockey played now worldwide is Canada.
Again, there are many versions, and one of them claims that it all started with field hockey in England. When Canada became a part of Great Britain in 1763, English officers borrowed and domesticated hockey in Halifax. The local citizens made welcome the new sport and played it on an amateur level. However, Canadian winters have always been rather harsh, so field hockey naturally transformed into a winter game. Instead of skates, people used cheese cutters fixed on their boots, and pluck was replaced by a heavy ball. There were up to 50 players in each team and the field was limited by the size of a frozen river or lake which acted as a hockey rink.
The first formal game of ice hockey took place in Ontario (former Kingstone) in 1855. Twenty years later, Montreal held the first official ice hockey match which was highlighted by the local press. It looked more like modern hockey, with teams of nine people in each and a wooden club instead of a ball, which was used before. At that time, there was no special ice hockey equipment, and it was borrowed from baseball. However, this was the first game with the hockey goalposts on a field.
After that, ice hockey became a game of all the national sports events; however, there were no declared rules that could take a game to an official, national and international level as it happened later. Finally, in 1877, students from a Montreal university invented the first seven rules of ice hockey and later the puck design made of rubber. After some time, hockey games became so popular, that it was presented at the annual Winter Carnival, and in 1885 the first Hockey Amateur Association was founded.
Ice hockey became to gain much traction and soon it was recognized as a very popular sport in Canada. At the end of the 20 century, lord Frederic Arthur Stanley established a championship that is known today as the Stanley Cup, one of the most prestigious trophies in the international sports world. Since 1910, expert teams started to participate in the Stanley Cup championship. In 1917, the National Hockey League was established and ice hockey was declared official Canada’s national sport.
NHL is a professional sports organization that combines hockey teams of the USA and Canada. At the moment, most sports experts recognize Hockey League as one of the strongest ones in the whole world. Today NHL is one of the major sports leagues of North America. The first NHL season started in 1917; four teams were taking part in this season.
NHL is the only professional league in North America with clubs from both capitals: Washington and Ottawa. In addition, NHL has the more Canadian units than the other major leagues. The six biggest cities of Canada — Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, and Edmonton — have their local representatives.
The first official international tournament took place in the Winter Olympic Games in Antwerpen. Since that, the World Championship and Olympic Games went along. From 1920 to 1952 Canada’s National team won tournaments at the Olympic games; once it was the national team of Great Britain, which consisted of athletes of Canadian origin. The main opponent for Canada was the team of the USSR that managed to beat the success of Canada in the period from 1964 till 1976.
To sum up: two national sports were declared as Canada’s national sports. The national summer sport is Lacrosse, and the national winter sport is lacrosse. However, sport in Canada is not limited by these two titles and there are much more popular games in which Canadians are rather successful — both in local tournaments and world cups, and Olympic games.
Even though curling is not recognized as Canada’s national sport, it is still rather popular — not as much as hockey and lacrosse, but there are Canadian representatives on Olympic Games and there are several strong professional clubs in Canada. Curling comes from Scotland and mainly developed there. However, the USA and Canada also played curling and created their own teams and associations.
There are men’s and women’s organizations in Canada that play in the winter Olympic games. The women’s team is one of the strongest in the world and won multiple curling tournaments in the Winter Olympic Games and world championships.
Although baseball is usually related to American sports means, it is also loved by Canadians. There is only one Canadian team in the Major League of Baseball, but they have managed to win it two times in a row in 1992 and 1993. Visiting a baseball game is quite a traditional recreation for Canadians; as this is not the most popular sport in the country, it is possible to get good last-minute tickets. There is also a version of baseball played specifically in Canada but it is not accepted on a more or less wide level.
The main managing organ of baseball is the Baseball Canada in Ottawa which was set in 1964. It is a part of the Olympic Committee of Canada and the International Federation. However, Canada has never shown any excessive results in this mean of sports: their highest trophy in the major sports events ever was a bronze medal on the World Championship.
Canadians have developed their own variant of football. So, football can also be called Canada’s national sport. It is not an Olympic summer sport and not really popular worldwide, but it has it is own Canada’s National League and several successful local events. Both Canadian and American football started from rugby, but each country accepted its own rules and nuances. Many people suppose that the Canadian version is a bit more exciting but the American version remains much more famous and money-making so many top Canadian players opt for contracting with American Leagues striving for making a career.
The principal difference between Canadian football the American one is the field size: the Canadian version has a pitch of 10 yards more. This allows playing in teams of twelve players, while the US footballers play in teams of 11. The end zone size is also different and Canadians made it twice the size of the one in the USA. In addition, there is no fair catch in Canada’s football.
Canada’s professional league has two divisions with two teams in each. The games are held from July to November. Most colleges of the country also have their own leagues, so this sport is rather popular; it has not managed to become an international game, though.
While hockey, lacrosse, curling, and Canadian football are played as the national games of Canada, the most popular Canadian sport in terms of attendance records. Besides hobby players and college clubs, there are professional leagues with Canada’s Premier League as the highest one. There are men’s and women’s football clubs in the country that play within the country and worldwide. They have quite high rankings according to FIFA records and the most expert athletes are the soccer players in Canada.
It might be surprising for those who are not much into sports and have just a general idea of what sports games are played in Canada, but it is one of the most popular Canadian sports today. In addition, this is the sport that was invented thanks to a Canadian. In addition, Canada, and particularly Toronto, played a leading role in the development of top basketball players successful in the Olympic Games and world championship series. Today it has become of the most popular sports games in Canada and there is a range of reasons for this.
Most likely basketball grew a significant sport in Canada due to the country’s modern population. The vast amount of citizens are immigrants who come from countries not really familiar with hockey and far less with lacrosse. Thus, they opt for other sports which are less specific like tennis, soccer, and basketball. In addition, the new Canadians are quite rejected by prices that have to be paid to lean the main sport of Canada, so basketball and soccer simply turn out to be more affordable.
If before Canada was mainly related to a huge community of basketball fans, it is now a great basis for the NBA along with the big American cities that are the motherland of best basketball stars. For instance, Michael Jordan, Karim Abdul Jabbar, Carmelo Anthony, and others are from the USA, but today more and more major personalities are produced by Toronto schools.
According to different sources, tennis is not so widely played in Canada even as a hobby, not saying of any major events; most people who are willing to build a career in tennis, tend to migrate from Canada to join any international training team. There are several professional championships held in Canada: Quebec Cup, Open Championship of Vancouver, Open Championship of Canada. The US Open Series, organized from 2004, also includes men’s and women’s participants from Canada.
Athletes from Canada compete in the most major world events including the Summer and Winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games, FIFA, Cricket, and Rugby World Cup. In addition, there is a women’s football team that plays for Canada in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Canada shows the best results in a game of hockey in the Winter Olympics.