Native Americans are said to be the inventors of lacrosse—it's the modern-day version of the indigenous game of baggataway—so a recent gesture by Ireland's lacrosse team is not only a generous one, but a nod to the sport's history. Only eight international lacrosse teams were chosen to participate in the next World Games, a multi-sport event typically held the year after each Summer Olympics, and the Iroquois Nationals didn't make the cut, despite finishing third in the sport's 2018 world championship. Per CNN, the team was deemed ineligible because it doesn't represent a sovereign nation, and because it doesn't have an Olympic committee. However, after outcry throughout the lacrosse world, the International World Games Association did a 180 and said the Iroquois Nationals could compete—except all eight teams had already been selected for the 2022 games, the Irish Post reports.
That's when Ireland Lacrosse—which Sports Illustrated notes had been especially angry about the original decision to disqualify the Iroquois Nationals—stepped up. "Ireland Lacrosse has made the decision to voluntarily vacate its position" in the tournament, "upholding the highest ideals in international sport," the team said in a statement. "It's simply the right thing to do," Ireland Lacrosse CEO Michael Kennedy added. "As much as our players would have been honored to compete, we know the right thing is for the Iroquois Nationals to represent our sport on this international stage." The Iroquois Nationals expressed their gratitude. "Your actions have spoken louder than words showing everyone the true power of sport, and the spirit of lacrosse," the team tweeted. "We will never forget that." It also changed its team colors to those of the Irish tricolor: green, white, and gold. (Read more uplifting news stories.)