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James Naismith

Biography of Canadian James Naismith who invented basketball.


Basketball player being guarded by defender
Thomas Barwick/ Stone/ Getty Images
In December 1891, Canadian-born James Naismith, a physical education teacher at the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) training school, took a soccer ball and a peach basket into the gym and invented basketball. In 1893, James Naismith replaced the peach basket with iron hoops and a hammock-style basket. Ten years later came the open-ended nets of today. Before that, you had to retrieve your ball from the basket every time you scored.

James Naismith - Background

James Naismith was born in Ramsay township, near Almonte, Ontario, Canada and attended McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. After serving as McGill's Athletic Director, James Naismith moved on to work at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891. The game of basketball was inspired by a children's game James Naismith knew called duck-on-a-rock, in which players throw a small rock at a "duck" placed on top of a large rock in an attempt to knock the "duck" off. While at Springfield, James Naismith invented basketball as a sport to play indoors during the cold Massachusetts winters. The first game of basketball was played with a soccer ball and two peach baskets used as goals. After changing the peach baskets for open hoop nets, James Naismith soon wrote thirteen official rules for the game.

First College Basketball Game

The first ever college basketball game was played on January 18, 1896, when the University of Iowa invited student athletes from the new University of Chicago for an experimental game. Final score: Chicago 15, Iowa 12, a bit different from the hundred-point scores of today.

In 1963, college games were first broadcast on national TV, but it wasn't until the 1980s that sports fans ranked basketball up there with football and baseball.

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