October 09, 2007

Nike wants to brand lacrosse

Iroquois shedding light on roots of lacrosseLyons, 77, was once a world-class goaltender for Syracuse. Now, besides serving as an activist for a slew of Native American causes, he is honorary chairman of Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse, which competes as its own country at international tournaments. At the World Indoor Championships in May, they lost in overtime to Canada in the final, the team's best finish. Lyons spent a recent Saturday here - in the center of the old Iroquois territory--with other Iroquois officials to meet with representatives from Nike and Johns Hopkins University. Their aim is to craft a plan that will make sure every child who picks up a lacrosse stick will know the game wasn't born in Northeast prep schools.

"We want to show our ownership of lacrosse to the world," said Dave Bray, once an All-American midfielder at Cornell, now a board member for the Nationals and the main liaison between the Iroquois and Nike. "It's our game, and now we have the voice to tell the world."

The voice is sporting behemoth Nike, which plans to use its resources to turn the Nationals into a brand, selling their black and gold uniforms everywhere from Iroquois reservations to Japan. Nike, as an avenue to enter the lacrosse business, took an interest in the Iroquois as the game's founders, which major manufacturers like Brine and Warrior Lacrosse hadn't tapped into.

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