History of Basketball

Basketball originated in 1891 when James Naismith was assigned to teach a physical education class at a YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) training school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Naismith was asked to invent a new game to keep the young men occupied (a game that could be played inside, and during the winter when it was very cold outside).

James Naismith, at the time, was a thirty-one-year-old graduate student. After graduating from Presbyterian College in Montreal with a theology degree, Naismith embraced his love of athletics and headed to Springfield to study physical education under Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick, superintendent of physical education at the College.

history of basketball

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Two previous instructors had already tried and failed to devise activities that would interest the young men. Dr. Gulick placed this problem directly in Naismith’s lap, asking Naismith to see what he could do with the class. Naismith’s challenge was to create a game that was easy to assimilate, yet complex enough to be interesting. It had to be playable indoors, and by a large number of players all at once. It should provide plenty of exercise, and be played without the roughness of football, soccer, or rugby (to lessen the chances of injury in the smaller space utilized to play the game). He put a lot of time and thought into his new challenge.

It was to become an adaptation of many games of its time, including American rugby (the passing part), English rugby (the jump ball), lacrosse (use of a goal), soccer (the shape and size of the ball), and something called duck on a rock, a game Naismith had played with his childhood friends in Bennie’s Corners, Ontario. Duck on a rock used a ball and a goal, but the goal could not be slammed through. This called for a goal with a horizontal opening high enough so that the ball would have to be tossed into it, rather than being thrown.

Naismith approached the school janitor, hoping he could find two square boxes to use as goals. The janitor came back with two peach baskets instead. Naismith then nailed them to the lower rail of the gymnasium balcony, one at each end. The height of that lower balcony rail just happened to be ten feet. Since the basket still had a “bottom” to it a man had to be stationed at each end of the balcony to pick the ball from the basket and put it back into play. It wasn’t until a few years later that the bottoms of those peach baskets were cut to let the ball fall loose.

Naismith then drew up the thirteen original rules, which described the method of moving the ball and what constituted a foul. A referee also was appointed. The game would be divided into two, fifteen-minute halves with a five-minute resting period in between. Naismith’s secretary typed up the rules and tacked them on the bulletin board. A short time later as the gym class met, the teams were chosen with three centers, three forwards, and three guards per side. Two of the centers met at mid-court, Naismith tossed the ball, and the game of “basket ball” was born.

Naismith’s new game was an instant success. Word of this new game spread like wildfire. A few weeks after the game was invented, students started introducing the game at their own YMCAs. The rules were also printed in a College magazine that was mailed to YMCAs around the country. High schools and colleges began to introduce the new game, and by 1905, basketball was officially recognized as a permanent winter sport.

The rules have been tinkered with, but by-and-large, the game of “basketball” has not changed drastically since Naismith’s original list (from the history of basketball) of “Thirteen Rules” was tacked up on a bulletin board at Springfield College. Naismith drew up the rules for the new game in “about an hour.” Most of them still apply in some form today.

 The original “13 Rules” of Basketball (history of bball) – Click Here!

The first professional basketball league was formed in 1898; players earned $2.50 for home games, $1.25 for games on the road. Currently, there are players earning over $20,000,000 per season, and let’s not forget the endorsements.

 Basketball is an American born game that is now played by more than 250 million people worldwide.

Check out our database of video clips – Example Youth Inbounds Play

history of basketball

These are just the bullet points of the History of Basketball. There are tons of resources regarding the history of basketball that can go into more detail than the story told on this webpage. The History of Basketball is a very interesting and remarkable one – Thank You to James Naismith for inventing a game that is now one of the most popular sports played today.

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History of Basketball

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