World Is Watching: World Games Might Be More Important than World Cup

The inclusion of lacrosse into the World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, is a major achievement in the quest for Olympic recognition.


Team USA will head to Europe for the FIL World Cup, which takes place in Guildford, England from July 12-22. But most of the roster won’t head home after the competition is over.

Instead, 15 players will travel to Wroclaw, Poland, for the 2017 World Games — where lacrosse is appearing for the first time in its history — for a four-day tournament from July 27-30.

Based on the progress the Federation of International Lacrosse has made to date and the trajectory of former World Games sports, the inclusion of lacrosse into the Games is a major achievement in the quest for Olympic recognition.

Almost a decade ago, the Federation of International Lacrosse laid out the plan that, it hoped, could get lacrosse into the Olympics by 2024. Part of that plan included joining organizations required by the International Olympic Committee, like Sport Accord — the umbrella organization for international sports federations — the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the International World Games Association.

Since 1981, the IWGA has hosted the World Games the year after the Summer Olympics in cities around the globe. The event features non-Olympic sports looking to get extra exposure as they attempt to take the next step to Olympic recognition.

Six nations — United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Japan and Poland — will send women’s lacrosse teams to this year’s World Games. It’s the first time lacrosse has appeared in a multi-sport world competition since it was last included in the Olympics in 1948 in London.







“Playing in the World Games in Wroclaw is going to be exceptional,” said Shelly Maher, FIL director of women’s lacrosse. “For us to be able to have six women’s teams there for the very first time displaying the best women’s lacrosse that we can put on will be a tremendous opportunity to show other sports what lacrosse is. We’re going to take the opportunity to promote women’s lacrosse and therefore lacrosse to a wider audience than we’ve ever had the chance to do before.”

Numerous sports, like badminton, beach volleyball and triathlon, appeared in the World Games before becoming official Olympic sports. The path is clear for a sport like lacrosse, but it will have to compete against the rest of the sports appearing at the World Games — including dance sport, squash, tug of war, sumo and karate.

“[The World Games are] regarded as the Olympics for non-Olympic sports,” said Ron Balls, FIL men’s competition committee chair. “We have to be there, competing with great teams and great play, because there will be IOC members watching those games.”

The World Games exposure could be crucial now that the FIL has submitted an application for provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee. Even the president of the IWGA, Jose Perurena, labeled his Games as “complimentary to the Olympic movement.”

Whether it will lead to lacrosse’s recognition by the IOC is yet to be determined. Judging by the requirements set forth by the IOC itself, inclusion into the World Game is a big step — potentially the biggest yet.

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