The very first game of basketball was played on December 21, 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts. The creator was James Naismith, a 30-year-old physical education faculty member at the YMCA International Training School (later to be named Springfield College.) He was tasked with creating a game that could focus young men and be played indoors in the winter. He was given two weeks to do so.
Naismith knew he wanted the game to be interesting to keep the attention of players and yet easy to play and safe. He drew upon his knowledge of a childhood game called duck-on-a-rock, a game involving throwing a small rock placed on top of a larger rock. He also combined his knowledge of rugby and football to come up with “Basket Ball,” a game with only 13 rules that Naismith wrote on a scratchpad in less than an hour. To help keep players safe from injuries, he allowed no contact.
At the first game, the height of the goals was placed at 10 feet, determined solely by the height of the Y’s indoor running track. The score of the first game was only 1-0 as Naismith hadn’t yet thought to cut out the bottoms of the peach baskets. Instead, someone had to climb a ladder to claim the ball, which was a soccer ball, from the basket.
The game was a success from the start and word spread. Within a few days, the class was attracting a crowd. Teachers from a nearby girls school asked the Y to organize a girls team. A newspaper reported it as “an uproarious game accompanied by much yelling.” In 1936, basketball became an Olympic sport.
Today, James Naismith would be amazed at what his “simple” game has become. Thanks to his imagination, terms like “March Madness,” and “Final Four” are part of America’s collective vocabulary. Basketball is played and enjoyed at schools and YMCAs around the world by children and adults.
We have basketball programs for all ages, youth through adult – check out our brochure!