An American History of Basketball

by : Bryan Pilkington

The original beginning of the popular game of basketball has always been open to debate. Possibly missionaries in China invented it or the game could have just evolved from other ball orientated games. In the late 19th Century basketball had many similarities to team handball. Team handball required two teams of seven players to attempt to score by trying to throw a ball into a goal on the ground.

Around 1891 a Canadian minister working as one of the staff in a college for young professionals began to develop the sport of basketball. He was wondering what indoor sporting activity the students could practice to keep themselves fit and healthy in the wintertime. After researching various indoor sports that were around at the time suitable for a gymnasium he came to the conclusion he would be better off devising his own sporting activity.

He gathered together two peach baskets and wrote down a few basic rules. The peach baskets were nailed 10 feet high on opposite ends of the gym and he used sacks for nets. The students originally played with soccer balls and had to poke the ball out of the peach basket every time the ball went in.

On January 20th 1892 the players walked out onto court for the first official basketball game. The game was played in a YMCA gym on a court that was half the size of a regular modern day basketball court. Women also began to play the sport in the same year, as the sport was gaining popularity. As the early years went by the game rules were changed and refined into modern day rules. Initially the YMCA popularised the game of basketball but as it became more popular it attracted more rowdy crowds and occasional rough behaviour from the players, so it was slightly discouraged from the missions.

A brown ball was later used to replace the longstanding soccer ball. It was not until the 1950s that an orange ball was introduced to the game. This was designed with more bounce, and an increased visibility to the players and spectators. The game was now becoming very popular with its enthusiastic supporters. The art of dribbling the ball was then introduced, almost as a by-product of having an extra bouncy ball. Today basketball can be added to the list of games played world wide. It is also a game invented by North Americans, and to many an integral part of American culture.