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Unlike other sports whose beginnings are a little bit indefinite Basketball is the creation of one

Canadian named James A. Naismith.

James A. Naismith was born in Almonte,Ontario in Nov 6 1861. Orphaned at age 8, Naismith

returned to Almonte High School at age 20 to complete his education. After high school he

attended McGill University. Naismith showed lots of talent in athletics and was voted the university

top all-around athlete twice in a row. Today he is still known as one of Canada’s greatest Rugby

and Lacrosse players ever.

After college Naismith immigrated to the United States Of America to pursue a dream of being

a physical-education teacher. He enrolled in the International Young Mens Christian Association

Training School in Springfield,Massachusetts (Now known as Springfield College). Before long

Naismith joined the staff as a P.E. teacher.

One day during the cold winters of Springfield in early December 1891 Luther H. Gulick who

was the head of the physical-educaton department noticed that the students were getting bored

with their usual indoor activities of calisthenics and gymnastics. So he asked Naismith to create a

indoor game for the students to enjoy during the winters.

Naismith first tried to adapt popular outdoor sports such as Rugby, Lacrosse, Soccer, and

Football. Naismith did’nt have any luck with these sports because they were much too dangerous

to play on a hard gymnasium floor. So Naismith made up his mind to invent a indoor game by

himself. He first decided to have the game use a large ball because a small ball would be too hard

to control. Then Naismith decided the ball that would be most appropriate would be a soccer ball.

Naismith relized that in order for his game to have no physical contact, the players would have

to be forbidden to run with the ball. To move the ball around the court the players would have to

pass it to each other.

Naismith wanted boxes hung on the two balconies of the gymnasium so that the players would

have to shoot the ball into the boxes with skill and not with force. Then he got the idea that the

opposing team could prevent the other team from scoring by blocking the ball with their bodies.

Naismith asked the custodian, Pop Stebbins, to find a pair of boxes each 18 inches square.

Pop could’nt find any suitable boxes so he gave Naismith a pair of peach baskets . Naismith

instructed Pop to nail a basket on the balconies that were on each end of the court. The height

that the peach baskets were hung was exactly 10 feet and it remains that height to this day.

In mid-December Naismith tried his game out on the18 students of his class. He had 2 teams

of 9 and his instructions to the games was simply ” throw the ball into the basket”. The game was

very crowded because of the 9 players to a side instead of the usual 5 as it is now. Another

reason was because the gymnasium was only 35 feet by 50 feet (A regulation court is 50 feet by

94 feet). There was very little teamwork or co-operation in that game because whenever a player

got the ball all the other players surrounded him. A student named William Chase scored the only

basket of the game. Now that Naismith had a game for his students

he needed a name for it. One of the students suggested the name “Naismith Ball” but Naismith

rejected that suggestion and named the game “Basketball”.

On March 11 1892 Basketball had it’s first regulation game. The game was between the

students of Naismith’s class and the teachers of Springfield College. There were 7 men to each

side. In the future this would be revised to 9 players, then to 8, and finally to 5. There was a crowd

of about 200 spectators. The result of the game was that the students won 5-1.

Many changes have been made since Basketball was invented such as the backboard, the

bottomless nets, dribbling, and the free throw. The backboard was created to prevent the

spectators from interfering with the shot. The bottomless nets were invented so the referee

would’nt have to climb up a ladder to retrieve the ball from the basket after every point. Dribbling

was invented to speed the game up and let the teams get in more scoring. The free throw was to

replace the old rule of 3 fouls and the other team gets an automatic point.

Basketball was spreading all over the world in a short amount of time. A part of the reason for

it’s sudden fame was because of Naismith students. Wherever Naismith’s former students went

they would introduce the game of Basketball to other people who were eager to learn. Soon

Basketball was being played in YMCA gyms all across Canada and the United States of America.

College soon got into it and had it’s first game in Febuary 9 1895 when Minnesota State School of

Agriculture played Hamline University of St. Paul. Minnesota won that game 9-3. By 1895 more

than 40 colleges had Basketball teams. Later the N.I.T. college tournament was established in

1937 and then a year later the N.C.A.A. was started.

Many pro Basketball leagues were established but not many could economically survive and

were forced to close down. Back then there was the N.B.L., A.B.L., A.B.A. and the world’s most

popular pro Basketball league, the N.B.A.(The National Basketball Association). The N.B.A. was

first started in 1946. The league was called the B.A.A.(The Basketball Association of America)

back then until it changed it’s name in 1949. Basketball is also a sport event in the Olympics. It

was first an Olympic event in 1936. All these leagues and events may not have been successful

but in one way or another helped Basketball to become the fastest growing sport on this planet.

Even though Basketball was invented by a Canadian there are only 3 Canadians in the

N.B.A..They are Bill Wennington of the Chicago Bulls, Rick Fox of the Boston Celtics, and Steve

Nash of the Pheonix Suns. Maybe the new Canadian N.B.A. franchises the Toronto Raptors and

the Vancouver Grizzlies will inspire more Canadians to take part in the sport of Basketball.

As for Naismith, he married a woman named Maude Sherman. In 1895 at age 34 Naismith

moved to Denver, Colorado. There Naismith attended Gross Medical School (Now known as

University of Colorado School of Medicine).He graduated in 1898 and got his medical degree.

He still wanted to be a teacher so he then became a coach at the University of Kansas. He

retired in 1937. He died at age 78 on November 28 1939. In those 78 years that he lived he has

changed many Canadians lives by creating Basketball and will forever be regarded as The Father

Of Basketball.


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