On this day in 1891, 125 years ago, Almonte, Ontario native James Naismith derived a new sport, "Basket Ball" at the Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA to fill the void between football and baseball seasons.
The concept of basketball was born from Naismith's school days in the area where he played a simple child's game known as duck-on-a-rock outside his one-room schoolhouse. The game involved attempting to knock a "duck" off the top of a large rock by tossing another rock at it.
In Springfield, Naismith was faced with the problem of finding a sport that was suitable for play inside during the Massachusetts winter for the students at the School for Christian Workers. Naismith wanted to create a game of skill for the students instead of one that relied solely on strength. He needed a game that could be played indoors in a relatively small space. The first game was played with a soccer ball and two peach baskets (hence the name 'basket') used as goals.
Naismith later described those first moments of play in mid December 1891: "There were eighteen in the class; I selected two captains and had them choose sides. When the teams were chosen, I placed the men on the floor. There were three forwards, three centers, and three backs on each team. I chose two of the center men to jump, then threw the ball between them. It was the start of the first basketball game and the finish of the trouble with that class."
James Naismith devised a set of thirteen rules of basketball:
- The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
- The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands, but never with the fist.
- 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 running at good speed.
- The ball must be held in or between the hands. The arms or body must not be used for holding it.
- No shouldering, holding, pushing, striking or tripping in any way of an opponent. The first infringement of this rule by any person 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 substitution shall be allowed.
- A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violations of Rules 3 and 4 and such as described in Rule 5.
- If either side make three consecutive fouls it shall count as a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).
- Goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the ground into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edge and the opponents move the basket, it shall count as a goal.
- When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field and played by the first person touching it. In case of 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 them.
- 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 the power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.
- The referee shall be the judge of the ball and decide when it 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.
- The time shall be two 15-minute halves with five minutes' rest between.
- The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winners.
Basketball was introduced at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Today basketball has grown to become one of the world's most popular sports.