During the winter of 1891 at the YMCA
Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, a
physical education instructor by the name of James
Naismith asked the janitor to hang up two boxes, each on the
opposite side of the gymnasium, so his students could
participate in an experimental game he had devised. The janitor
was unable to find boxes, but found two peach baskets instead,
ultimately leadingto the coining of the name basketball. By
January 20, 1892, the first official basketball game was played
between two nine-man teams using a soccer ball under the
guidance of Naismith.
Originally, a ladder was set up to help retrieve the
balls from the peach baskets. Once metal baskets became popular,
a pole was used to knock the ball out of the hole of the metal
basket. Thiseventually evolved into the use of a metal hoop
with an intertwined cord netting attached to the hoop.
Backboards were created in order to curtail spectator
interference with the shots made by the players. The use of the
soccer ball was ended, replaced by laced leather balls with
rubber bladders, then the laces were removed from the ball, and
finally leather-covered balls were introduced, which still
remain in use even until today.
The rules of basketball originated from a frequent
participant of rugby matches, who disliked the physicalness of
sport. He felt that basketball would be a much better game if
the amount of physical play was restricted by implementing a
system of rules that would restrict physical play. Naismith
decided to adopt 13 rules which he termed the "fundamental
principals " of the game of basketball. The rules contained a
penalizing system for offensive and defensive players if they
broke any of the rules of the game. Virtually all of Naismith’s
original rules have lasted for more than one hundred years in
the rule books of the game of basketball.
Basketball’s popularity quickly soared to new heights.
Within a decade of its invention, women’s teams began to form.
Intercollegiate basketball games were also being played soon
after the invention of the game. Princeton, Harvard, Yale and
Cornell were the first colleges to adopt a basketball program.
In the earliest games usually no more than 15 to 20 points were
scored. This style of play was maintained for a number of years
as the ivy league teams dominated the college basketball
spotlight. Eventually, other colleges began playing basketball
seriously teams, causing the need for a league to be formed, and
thus the NCAA was created.
Basketball’s popularity spread to such countries as
Canada, France, and Australia and in 1904 was introduced into
the Olympic games. Professional leagues were formed as the
sport gained a tremendous following. Improvements like three
point lines and the shot clock helped to transform the way
basketball was played into the faster paced higher scoring game
that it is today.
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