Dr. James Naismith is known world-wide as the inventor of Basketball. He was born in 1861 in

Ramsay township, near Almonte, Ontario, Canada. The concept of basketball was born from his

school days in the area where he played a simple child’s game called duck-on-a-rock outside of his schoolhouse. The game had a purpose to knock a “duck” off the top of a large rock by throwing another rock at it. Naismith then went on to attend McGill University in Montreal, Quebec,Canada.

After serving as McGill’s Athletic Director, he moved on to the YMCA Training School in

Springfield, Massachusetts, USA in 1891 where there the sport known as basketball was born. In


Naismith was then faced with the problem of finding a sport which was right for playing inside during the

Massachusetts winter. Naismith wanted to create a game of skill for the students instead of one that uses

only strength. He needed a game that could be played indoors in a small space. The first game was played with a soccer ball and two peach baskets used as baskets. At that time went a person made a basket the basket was called “goal” so in the following rules the word “goal” means the basket that was made.

Naismith devised a set of thirteen rules of Basketball:

1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.

2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands, but never with the fist.

3. 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.

4. The ball must be held in or between the hands. The arms or body must not be used for

holding it.

5. 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.

6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violations of Rules 3 and 4 and such as described in

Rule 5.

7. 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).

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. The time shall be two 15-minute halves with five minutes’ rest between.

13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winners.

In addition to the creation of the sport, Naismith graduated as a medical doctor, and so interested

in sports physiology and what we would call today sports science and as Presbyterian minister, with

an interest in philosophy and clean living. Naismith watched his sport, introduced in many

nations by the YMCA movement as early as 1893. Later on Basketball was introduced at the Berlin

Olympics in 1936. Today Basketball has grown to become one of the world’s most popular sports.

The early game suffered from some problems. The ball had

to be retrieved from the basket with a step ladder, and the

game could be played by any number of players up to

forty. Somebody then came up with the idea of knocking

the bottoms out of the peach baskets thus having the soccer

ball fall through the basket. In 1897 a norm had been

estbalished that allowed only five people to a side.

The first professional league was founded in 1898. The first

collegiate association was formed in 1902. Women started

taking up the game before the turn of the century.

With basketball growing in popularity, improvements had

to be made. A metal hoop was introduced in 1893, and

backboards were installed to prevent spectators from

interfering with the players. The soccer balls that were

originally used were replaced by regulation basketballs.

1891 – Dr. James Naismith invented the game of


1892 – The first public basketball game is played.

1893 – The first women’s basketball game is played

and the first backboards are introduced.

1894 – Basketballs replace soccer balls.

1898 – The first basketball professional league is


1949 – The NBA is formed.

1954 – The 24 second shot clock is introduced.

1976 – The ABA and NBA merge.


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