History Of Basketball

Dr. James Naismith

Dr. James Naismith (Wikipedia, under public domain, Search engine creative common, cropped derivative)

It was a scene that’s played out in gymnasiums all over the country, if not the world. Only in one particular instance, thanks to the idea of a creative physical education teacher, the activity that took place would soon become one of the most popular sports in the world.

When Was Basketball Invented

On a typical chilly day in southwestern Massachusetts, back in December of 1891, a 30-year old physical education teacher devised a new way to entertain the students of the School for Christian Workers (now Springfield College). The P.E. teacher took the 18 men in the gymnasium, split them down the middle into two groups of nine players, and organized what would be the first basketball game ever. Since the sport didn’t exist prior to that one afternoon in late 1891, the nine students per side attempted to shoot a soccer ball into two baskets that were otherwise used to transport peaches.

That young P.E. teacher was presiding over this game, who would eventually go down as the proverbial father of basketball, was named James Naismith.

Dr. James Naismith

A native of Almonte, Ontario, the Canadian-born James Naismith studied physical education at McGill University in Montreal. Playing a game called “duck on a rock” while growing up in Canada, it was there that Naismith discovered the idea of lofting the ball over someone’s head and having it land in a particular location. That became the basis for the jump shot, which would obviously be a cornerstone for the way basketball is played.

Naismith was a good athlete himself, playing lacrosse, rugby, and soccer at McGill University, while also becoming a member of the school’s gymnastics team; in the latter, he won multiple medals for outstanding performances.

Naismith went on to become the Director of Athletics at McGill University but eventually left that position to become a physical education teacher at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts.

First Basketball Court
First Basketball Court (Wikipedia, under public domain, Search engine creative common, cropped derivative)

Where Was Basketball Invented

In an unusually harsh New England winter, Naismith — as the school’s P.E. teacher — struggled to come up with ways to entertain an otherwise rambunctious group of students. The head of the school’s P.E. department at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts was named Dr. Luther Glick, and the man was known for his particularly short temper and impulsive behaviors. Glick ordered Naismith to come up with an indoor game that would serve as an “athletic distraction” for the students. And thus, the game of basketball was born.

Given that Springfield, Massachusetts effectively became the birthplace of basketball, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Hall of Fame of the National Basketball Association is located there, with the Hall of Fame bearing Naismith’s name as the creator of basketball.

Founder Of Basketball

Seven years after ideating the game of basketball, Naismith earned his medical degree in Denver, Colorado, and subsequently received the “doctor” title before his name. And thus, “Dr. James Naismith” now becomes the answer to the question asked by many sports fans and trivia questions all over the world of: “who invented basketball?”

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