Different Basket, Same Game

Take an empty peach basket, add a lumpy ball and a gymnasium full of restless kids and you have the makings of the most popular indoor sport ever created.

Shooting hoops (aka basketball) began in a Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA gymnasium in 1891. Its creator, a physical education teacher named Dr. James Naismith, was just trying to create a way for his rowdy kids to blow off steam indoors during the icy winter months.

He nailed a discarded peach basket that he found in the cafeteria trash (with an intact bottom) onto a 10-foot elevated track, came up with 13 basic rules (most of these rules still apply today), and gave his students a ball (originally, a soccer ball was used—the basketball we use today wasn’t developed until later). Needing to remove the ball from the basket every time, Naismith eventually cut out the bottom of the basket, which allowed the ball to fall through.

The game spread like wildfire around the country and eventually the world. In 1898 the first professional basketball league was formed. The first pro players were paid less than $3 a game. That’s a far cry from the millions that players earn professionally today.

Today everyone shoots hoops–on the playground, in school gymnasiums, in enormous stadiums. It’s even an Olympic sport.

The game has evolved in the last 100+ years: the basket, the backboards, the ball, scoring, the court, timing, the rules. But at it’s core, the game remains the same: get the ball in the basket. End of story.

[Basketball remains the most popular indoor sport in the world, played worldwide by more than 300 million people. Dr. Naismith could never have imagined his game of Peach Basket would be come a world phenomena.  And if you’re interested in reading The Original 13 Rules of Basket Ball, written by Dr. James Naismith in 1891, read on. Just a note: basketball was originally two words and these original rules were published in the Springfield College school newspaper, The Triangle, January 15, 1892.

1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.

2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands (never with the fist).

3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.

4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.

5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.

6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of Rules 3, 4, and such as described in Rule 5.

7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the mean time making a foul).

8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.

9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field of play by the person first touching it. In case of a dispute, the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds; if he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on that side.

10. The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.

11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made, and keep account of the goals with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.

12. The time shall be two 15-minute halves, with five minutes’ rest between.

13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.]



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