DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Lyle Thompson has been playing lacrosse for a long time.
LYLE THOMPSON: I had a stick in my hands the day I was born. My grandfather played the game. My great-grandfathers played the game. Lacrosse has really become a part of our tradition.
GREENE: Thompson is one of the best lacrosse players in the world. He plays for the Iroquois Nationals in New York, a team that represents the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Haudenosaunee are actually the originators of lacrosse, what they call the medicine game.
THOMPSON: All my life lessons really come from the game of lacrosse, playing in those medicine games, those traditional medicine games and using a traditional wooden stick.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
So it makes sense that the Nationals are really good - third best in the world, actually. But when invitations went out for the 2022 World Games in Alabama, they weren't on the list. Organizers said the Nationals couldn't compete because they are not a sovereign nation.
THOMPSON: It was a disappointment and sort of boiled my blood to be like, this again?
MARTIN: There was a petition calling for the Nationals' inclusion that got 50,000 signatures. The game's organizers recognized their mistake, but the roster was already full. Enter Ireland - their team was set to play.
SONNY CAMPBELL: None of us would be going to Birmingham, Ala., in the first place if it wasn't for the Iroquois and giving us the gift of their medicine game.
GREENE: That is Sonny Campbell there, a player for Ireland Lacrosse. He says the Irish team wanted to do more than make a statement. So last month, they dropped out of the tournament, allowing the Nationals to take their spot.
CAMPBELL: They are not the only ones who are sick of this. We support them. And if it means that we'll give up our spot, then, you know, so be it. But the Iroquois, they need to be there.
GREENE: Lyle Thompson says this move was unexpected.
THOMPSON: You know, a sense of me felt bad because they're sort of sacrificing and giving up their opportunity. But part of me felt like this is the right move. And I do truly believe that.
GREENE: Thompson says Ireland's sacrifice won't be in vain.
THOMPSON: The Iroquois Nationals are going to put together the best team the world has ever seen and representing not just the Iroquois Nationals but Ireland Lacrosse also.
GREENE: Lyle Thompson set to compete for the Iroquois Nationals at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Ala.
(SOUNDBITE OF ENEMIES' "FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY")
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