What is the national sports of Canada? It’s ice hockey, right? It has to be. After all, you can’t go anywhere without seeing another Canadian with a hockey jersey on—and that’s even before you get to Canada! (There are few sights more common when you fly from New York to Toronto than a crowd of well-dressed businessmen in suits and ties, each one with his own hockey sweater.)

But here’s the thing: Canada doesn’t actually have an official national sport. That may seem surprising to anyone who loves sports and lives in the United States or any other country with an official national pastime, but it’s true: while many countries have declared their favorites as their “national” sports, none have done so more emphatically than Canada. And yet, even if Canadians don’t have a national sport, they do play two sports that are considered “national” by some

Ice hockey.


Ice hockey is a team sport played on ice. It is played by two teams of six players each. Who try to score points by shooting a hard rubber puck into the opponent’s goal. Each team has three periods of play; the game ends when one team scores more goals than the other during an overtime period. There are also penalties for illegal actions, such as checking opponents too hard.

The ice hockey rink is rectangular and measures roughly 200 feet (60 meters) long by 85 feet (26 meters) wide. The goals are 6 feet tall. With rounded corners so they can’t be easily knocked over by accident or with brute force. There’s also a crossbar 3 inches above the goal line so pucks don’t get stuck in it!

Each team has five players on its own side of center ice and four players on their opponent’s side at any given moment during play. Two forwards, two defensemen (or “D”), and one goalie (“G”). A sixth player—usually another forward—is used as an alternate. If needed due to injury or fouls committed against members of either team



Lacrosse is a traditional Indigenous game that can be traced back thousands of years. It involves teams of 12 players and is played with lacrosse sticks and balls. Although it has been played in Europe since the mid-1800s; lacrosse did not become popular outside of Canada until the 20th century.

Canada first participated in international competitions at the 1904 Olympics in St Louis. Where they beat Britain by one goal to win gold medals for Canada’s national sport (then known simply as “lacrosse”). Lacrosse was also included at the 1908 Olympics in London but was not as successful there: Canada lost both games against Britain.

They both are.

Lacrosse and ice hockey are both Canadian sports. In fact, they’re the only two official sports of Canada.

In this sense, “national” means that the game originated in Canada and is played by Canadians. This definition is useful for excluding other popular Canadian games like curling (which originated in Scotland) or rugby (a sport that was invented by British soldiers stationed in Canada), but it doesn’t tell us much about what makes a good sport for Canadians to play—or why we should care about lacrosse and ice hockey at all!

Both lacrosse and ice hockey have been designated as national sports under the National Sports Act of 1994

Both lacrosse and ice hockey have been designated as national sports under the National Sports Act of 1994, but not all Canadians are aware that Canada has no official national sport. While the debate may never be settled, the matter is more complicated than it appears on its face.

Both lacrosse and ice hockey were first played by First Nations people on this continent thousands of years ago. Both games are still very popular in Canada today—lacrosse is played during summer months while ice hockey is played during winter months. But which one should be considered our nation’s number one pastime?


In 1994, the Canadian government passed an amendment to the National Sports Act declaring lacrosse and ice hockey as Canada’s official national sports. The decision was made based on the fact that both of them historically have been “traditionally and universally recognized” throughout the country. It’s a fitting choice since they’re two of Canada’s most popular sports anyway! So if you’re wondering which sport is king in Canada, your answer is: Both!

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