Sports Gazette

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The Lacrosse player hoping to represent Native America at the 2028 Olympics

Kyle Jackson is one of the many professional Lacrosse players around the world dreaming of the 2028 LA Olympics.

It is a dream that has been made possible by the announcement on the 16th October that Lacrosse is one of five new sports to be played in LA.

What is special about Jackson though, is the nation that he represents; the Haudenosaunee.

Jackson with his daughter after the Haudenosaunee (Ho-den-o-show-nee) played Canada in the 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championships

Lacrosse originated in Native America and the first version was played there centuries ago before French-Canadian imperialists took an interest. The sport has since been developed into the game we see today.

The Haudenosaunee team represents the six Native American nations of the Iroquois Confederacy in upstate New York, Ontario and Quebec. These are the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora.

They play in international competitions and regularly compete at the top level. The men’s team recently won a bronze medal at the 2023 World Championships.

Jackson and his teammates during the 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship

For Jackson, the Olympics is a dream for two reasons.

The first is obvious; the Olympics is the pinnacle for most athletes. It is the first time that Lacrosse has featured in the Olympics since 1908 and to be involved in that, in Jackson’s words, would be “one of the coolest things in the world.”.

The second is out of his hands. The Haudenosaunee is not a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or the United Nations which means that, currently, they would not be able to compete at the Olympics.

There is definitely a feeling amongst those within the sport of Lacrosse that the Haudenosaunee should be allowed to play.

In a statement after the announcement that Lacrosse would be at the Olympics, the sport’s governing body, World Lacrosse, said that it is committed to finding “creative solutions to showcase the sport’s history and enable a pathway for the Haudenosaunee to participate in the Olympics while respecting the Olympic Games framework.”

Jackson is adamant on the issue: “At the end of the day, the game was created by Native American people.

“The reality is, the game would not be the same if the literal creators of said game were not involved, it would be kind of crazy to imagine.”

The Haudenosaunee beat Australia 11-6 to win bronze at the 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championships

It is not the first time that the Haudenosaunee team have encountered issues with international competitions.

Before the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships, the team were denied visas by the British government because their tribal passports were not recognised in Britain.

In the 2022 World Games, the Irish team dropped out of the tournament in order to free up a place for the Haudenosaunee because they were not originally in the tournament due to not being recognised as a nation.

In an emailed statement on the 12th October, the IOC said that the United States and Canada could include athletes from the Haudenosaunee in their teams. But that is a decision that would not come lightly to Jackson.

“I’ve thought about it and the reality is, I don’t know where I would stand if the Haudenosaunee was not to be a part of it.

“We talked about who you are and what you’re all about and for me to just kind of jump ship to another country, I would have a hard time doing that because over the last couple of years I’ve been so dedicated to playing for the Haudenosaunee and making that my sole prerogative.

“I’ve thought about it a lot, I’ve conversed with my wife about it, and no scenario has come into place where I’ve sat there and gone, well I think I’ll just go play for Canada or the US.

“Because it would go entirely against everything that the Haudenosaunee is all about; staying in unison.”

Jackson celebrating the Haudenosaunee’s bronze medal at the 2023 World Lacrosse Mens Championships

Usually played in a ten-a-side format, the Lacrosse will be played as a ‘sixes’ tournament during the Olympics. The decision was made for two reasons: to keep the number of athletes at the Olympics down and for the games to be more exciting to watch. Jackson feels that, if involved, the Haudenosaunee would compete for a medal.

“It’s all about who the best athletes are. It’s not who is the best defensively or offensively.

“So, if we put the proper people in for that format, I absolutely believe we can win a medal and it would be the greatest thing in the entire world to do so.”

The ‘creators’, as the Haudenosaunee are known, should be in LA in 2028. It is akin to a Football World Cup without England or a Cricket World Cup without India. The only difference is that the presence of the Haudenosaunee team won’t contribute much to the IOC’s potential revenue from the 2028 Games.

It is a complex issue and the IOC have not been particularly flexible in the past but plenty within the sport hope they will make an exception.

The story of the Irish team’s generosity in the 2022 World Games; giving up their place so the Haudenosaunee could compete is evidence of this. There have also been vocal fans on social media who have said that if the Haudenosaunee cannot play at the Olympics then Lacrosse should not be played.

Lacrosse is going to be at the greatest sporting event in the world for the first time in more than a century, and its rich history should be showcased. It would add interest and excitement while allowing players like Jackson to represent their heritage on the biggest stage of all.


  • Michael Thomas

    Sports writer, cricket fan (emphasis on fan, not expert) and self-pitying West Bromwich Albion supporter. Always open to researching and writing about different topics.