Basketball origins


Howard At Play

February 24, 2002

Everyone knows Dr. James Naismith invented basketball, one of the quintessential American games, in Springfield, Mass. But do you know:

* When? And why? It was the early 1890's Naismith, a physical education instructor, was given 14 days to come up with a new game as an "athletic distraction" for a rowdy class at the School for Christian Workers.

* The basketball had not been invented. So what did Naismith's players toss into peach baskets? It was and "association football," known today as a soccer ball.

* An American game devised by an American, right? Nope. Naismith was Canadian-born and earned two college degrees in Montreal before he got his doctorate in physical education at Springfield College.

* What event did Naismith count as his biggest thrill? The game's introduction as an Olympic sport during the 1936 Berlin Games. He died three years later.

SOURCE: The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

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