History Of Basketball: Who, When, Where and How It Was Invented?
Basketball…hoops game…court game…we all know it today as a game that’s played by two opposing teams, each consisting of 5 players.
And the players score points by throwing the ball through horizontal hoops at an elevated height.
It’s no doubt that this game has grown to become one of the most popular sports in the US and the other parts of the world (with over 300 million players).
But have you ever asked yourself how it all began?
If yes, we’ve got all the facts with us. In the following article, we’ll discuss the full history of basketball—including who invented basketball, when, where, how, and many other details.
Who Invented Basketball?
James Naismith is credited with inventing the hoops game.
Aftergraduating with a theology degree from Presbyterian College in Montreal at 31, Naismith followed his love for athletics and enrolled for Physical education at Springfield College (known as YMCA Training School back then).
Around that period, physical education was a relatively new and unpopular discipline. It was taught by Luther Halsey Gulick, who is today regarded as the father of recreations and physical education in the US.
Around the winter of 1891, the weather turned chilly and his class couldn’t participate in outdoor sports such as lacrosse and football.
To help them burn the energy they have built for staying inactive, all the gymnasium class offered to them was calisthenics, marching, apparatus work, etc.—which the students quickly found boring compared to lacrosse and football.
A faculty meeting was conducted to find a solution to the restlessness expressed by the students. And by the end, Gulick tasked Naismith to come up with a new sport within a one week period.
It was then that Naismith, the class instructor, flashed back to the 1891 summer session, when Gulick challenged them to come up with an interesting, easy to learn and play game in the winter and by the use of artificial light.
Naismith then put his creativity into work and came up with what we all know today as the basketball game.
He approached the school janitor and requested him to find 18” square boxes that he’d use as goals. The janitor could only find 2 peach baskets, each of which Naismith nailed to the lower rail of gym balcony (at a height of 10 feet).
A man was then stationed at each goal to get the ball out of the basket and back into play. However, the peach baskets bottoms were cut a few years later to allow the ball fall loose after a score.
He then drew the first 13 rules of basketball that explained how to move the ball and what would be counted as a foul. The first team was formed and a referee was appointed. He tossed the ball at the middle of the playground and the first basketball game went down!
Here’s the ONLY audio recording of the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, telling the story of how it all started.
When Was Basketball Invented?
After the new game was born, in the winter of 1891, it becomes an instant success! The word of a new game spread so fast that a few weeks after the first game, all the other YMCAs has already began playing it.
The 13 rules of them game were printed in College Magazine and sent to all the other YMCAs around the country via mail.
The fact that the college had well-represented student body internationally, it was easy to introduce the new game to the other countries as well.
College and high schools also took up the new game. And by the year 1905, basketball became officially recognized as the top winter sport.
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Where Was Basketball Invented?
The exact place where the basketball originated has sparked some confusion. This is especially due to the failure to establish any relation between the Springfield College and the YMCA—both of which directly relate to invention of basketball.
Part of the confusion comes from the fact that the institution has never been known as Springfield College until in 1954. It was originally known as the “School for Christian Workers.” All through it changed three times and the names include: the YMCA Training School, International YMCA Training School, and theInternational YMCA College.
Springfield College, since being founded in 1885, has always remained a private, independent institution. Though the college has enjoyed beneficial collaborations with YMCA for a long time, it never had any formal ties to the movement.
A small sign found at the corner of the building where Naismith invented basketball, however, compounded all this confusion.This building is located in the corner of Sherman and State streets in Springfield, Massachusetts. The sign bears the words “Armory Hill Young Men’s Christian Association,” and is also visible in the building’s old photos.
Historians speculate that Armory Hill YMCAowned this building, and that James Naismith was a YMCA employee.
Things however took a different curve in 2010 when some historic Springfield College and YMCA documents were discovered. They indicated that the gym in which the first basketball game was played wasn’t in YMCA institution buta building that belonged to School for Christian Workers, which is the present day Springfield College. The Armory Hill YMCA could’ve rented some space in the building for its activities, and probably put up the small sign to pull in customers.
Until otherwise rediscovered, the fact remains that the basketball origin is Springfield College.
How The First Game Was Played
The first ever basketball game was played on the 21st December, 1981 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The gym they played in was pretty small (at 50 x 35 ft. compared to the modern day court that measures 94 x 35 ft. Naismith, the inventor of basketball, pinned the 13 rules of basketball on the gym bulletin board and nailed two peach baskets at the two ends of the gym.
He then divided his class of 18 students into two halves, making it two teams. In other words, each team has 9 players—divided into 3 forwards, 3 centers, and 3 guards. He then introduced the basketball rules to them.
Team A players were: William R. Chase, Edwin P. Ruggles, Lyman Archibald, William H. Davis, Finlay G. MacDonald, Frank Mahan,T. Duncan Patton, Eugene S. Libby, and John J. Thompson.
Team B players were: Henry Gelan, George Day, Franklin Barnes, Benjamin S. French, Genzabaro Ishikawa, Raymond Kaighn, Ernest Hildner, Wilbert Carey, and George Weller.
A referee was also appointed and made to understand all the basketball rules and what would be counted as a foul, score, etc.
When all was set, two centers from each side met at the center, where Naismith tossed the ball and the game started.
The game ended with scores reading 1-0, where team A was the winner. The only goal that made them victors was scored by William R. Chase at a distance of 25 feet away from the peach basket.
Before we end this post, let’s take a quick look at the “The 13 Rules of Basketball” that Naismith came up with:
That’s everything you need to know on how basketball was invented. Just a quick recap, James Naismith is the one who invented basketball. He was tasked by Gulick, the father of physical education, to come up with a game that could be played in winter.
The first game was played 21st December, 1981 in Springfield, Massachusetts. It involved two teams, each having a total of 9 players.
The first ‘court’ was smaller than the modern one and the hoops used were peach baskets.
The first game ended in 1-0, with William R. Chase making as the first ever to score a goal in the history of basketball game.