International Men

December 12, 2012

Canadian Lacrosse Association Says No to Fighting

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter

"Fighting in the sport is an unnecessary risk," the Canadian Lacrosse Association said.
© Tim Prothero/

The Canadian Lacrosse Association, the country's governing body of the sport, issued a statement on fighting Monday, essentially moving to ban it from all levels of the game in Canada effective for the 2013 season.

Fighting traditionally has been allowed in indoor Canadian box leagues, in a form similar to hockey, but the new CLA rules state that if any player takes part in a fight, from minor to senior level, they will be ejected from a game. However, the new language also leaves some gray area for officials to determine an instigator. If that happens, the non-offending player will not receive a game misconduct.

The change does not apply to the National Lacrosse League, which is not governed by the CLA. Nor does the ruling alter Canadian field lacrosse, where fighting has not been allowed.

"The Canadian Lacrosse Association and its Board of Directors hereby declare that they are opposed to fighting in the game of lacrosse," the CLA stated in a press release, adding that is has approved rule changes that "positions Canadian lacrosse on the international stage as a world leader in maintaining the integrity of the game."

The changes to the CLA's Rule 45 on fighting include:

a) A major penalty and game misconduct penalty shall be assessed to any player/goalkeeper who fights. A goalkeeper penalty shall be served by a player who was on the floor at the time of the infraction. The major penalty must be served in its duration.

b) If there is an instigator or clear aggressor in a fight, a major penalty and a game misconduct plus any other penalties shall be assessed to the offending player(s). Where an instigator or clear aggressor penalty is assessed the non-offending player shall not receive a game misconduct under 45 (a).

The CLA cited safety as the reason for imposing stiffer punishments.

"Fighting in the sport is an unnecessary risk — it is a dangerous activity for any athlete to be a part of," the organization stated in a press release. "Incidents of concussions can increase with every fight that happens; it is becoming more apparent that a blow to the head area has the potential to cause severe and long-term injury.

"The health and safety of all participants in Canada's national summer sport is amongst the leading concerns of the Canadian Lacrosse Association — changes to Rule 45 demonstrates our collective assertion that fighting in the game will not be tolerated and lends additional protection to our participants."

There have been reports that the Western Lacrosse Association, a Senior A league with teams based in British Columbia, would not abide by the new rules, but the Victoria (B.C.) News reported Tuesday that it would.

"My understanding is that it's a compulsory ruling, and we'll be examining that, but if that's the case, then [the WLA] will go ahead under the current rules," WLA commissioner Casey Cook told the newspaper.

"It's a first step," British Columbia Lacrosse Association vice president Ron McQuarrie, who was was part of the CLA's committee to review fighting, told the News. "It's an improvement, and people know that. Will there still be fighting [this year]? Probably, but there will be consequences. Fighting doesn't play a part in sports, except the UFC. We felt people will recognize this is a good move. It's where we want to take our box game."

For more details, check out the full press release and a CLA Q-and-A.

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