The fate of the 2021 Olympics is still up in the air, but athletes are already looking ahead to the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. Unfortunately, the Iroquois Nationals — ranked number three in the league — wasn’t included on the list of men’s lacrosse participants because they don’t belong to a sovereign nation, organisers said. It’s worth noting, too, that the Iroquois actually invented the sport.

Lyle Thompson, an Iroquois Nationals player, said to NPR, “It was a disappointment and sort of boiled my blood. 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.”

Indeed, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which the team represents, originated the sport.

A petition to include the Iroquois Nationals got over 50,000 signatures and caught the attention of the Games’ organizers. They recognized their mistake, but since the roster of teams was already full, they couldn’t do anything to change the situation.

To make room for the Iroquois Nationals to compete, the Irish lacrosse team bowed out of the tournament. Sonny Campbell, a player for Ireland Lacrosse, said, “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. We support them, and if it means we’ll give up our spot, then so be it. But the Iroquois, they need to be there.”

The Nationals expressed their appreciation for the selfless move, and Thompson vowed not to squander the opportunity. “The Iroquois Nationals are going to put together the best team the world has ever seen,” he said, “and representing not just the Iroquois Nationals, but Ireland lacrosse also.”