Who invented basketball?

Basketball, or basket ball, as it was originally called, was invented in December, 1891 by James Naismith, who was, at the time, a physical education instructor at the International Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. Tasked with developing a competitive activity that could be completed safely, indoors, during the winter months, Naismith drew on his knowledge of association football, gridiron football and field hockey, among other outdoor sports, to come up with his innovation.

Naismith draughted the original rules of the game, which were published, by public demand, in the YMCA campus newspaper, The Triangle, the following January. Some of them, such as those governing travelling fouls and physical contact between players, are still the basis of the modern game. The original basketball ‘hoops’ were simply two wooden peach bushel baskets nailed, ten feet off the ground, to the balcony rail at each of the gymnasium, from which the ball could be retrieved by students in the balcony following a goal. The original ball was just a regulation association football.

Naismith originally played basketball with nine players a side, simply because that was the number of students in his physical education class. He subsequently wrote that the game could be played with anything between three and 40 players a side, depending on the playing space available, but modern five-a-side basketball became enshrined in the rules as early as 1897.

The rules, and equipment, of the game continued to evolve. Backboards, to make scoring easier, were an early addition and the peach baskets were eventually replaced by a metal rims and bottomless nylon nets, which allowed the ball to pass through. Dribbling was introduced in 1901, by which time Spalding had become the official manufacturer of custom-made basketballs.

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