Without Cold Winters, We Might Not Have Basketball

Not Sure If This is What Naismith Had in Mind and It's Not Clear We Ever Would Have Heard of Michael Jordan if it Weren't For Cold Massachusetts Winters

Women's Basketball Was introduced to Smith College A Few Months After 1st Men's Team. This is Smith practice in 1903

On This Date in History: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland.  Not sure why Cleveland was picked except maybe the state and city provided good tax incentives.  But, at least its in a big city.  Baseball’s Hall of Fame is in tiny Cooperstown, NY.  I love that town.  The Pro Football Hall of Fame is in Canton, Ohio.  The Hockey Hall of Fame was supposed to be in Kingston Canada but funding dried up.  Eventually, it ended up in Toronto.  I think the first time the term “Hall of Fame” was used was in 1900 when the Hall of Fame for Great Americans was established at New York University, now Bronx Community College.  Then, the sporting world jumped on the bandwagon.  I believe that myth, folklore or history suggests that baseball was first played in Cooperstown and football in Canton, which is why those towns were chosen.  The Basketball Hall of Fame is in Springfield, MA because, on this date in 1892, the first basketball game was played.

Dr. Naismith's gym class produced the first basketball team. They consisted of nine players and their coach, pictured here on the steps of Springfield College Gymnasium. Back row: John G. Thompson; Eugene S. Libby; Edwin P. Ruggles; William R. Chase; T. Duncan Patton. Center: Frank Mahan; James Naismith. Front row: F. G. Macdonald; William H. Davis; Lyman W. Archibald.

It was invented by James Naismith, probably during the Christmas holidays in late 1891.   It really came about as a matter of necessity than anything else.   See, Naismith was a Physical Education teacher at the YMCA International Training School in 1891.  Today, it is referred to as Springfield College.  It gets cold in Massachusetts in the winter.  He had to find an indoor game of “athletic distraction” for the students.  He considered outdoor games such as Lacrosse and Rugby but thought they were too rough, though he did figure a way to eliminate tackling of Rugby was to disallow running and he liked the idea of the goals of LaCrosse.  Then, he remembered a game from his youth called Duck on a Rock.  Something about trying to knock a “duck” off the top of a large rock by throwing another rock at it.  I guess the prospects of throwing rocks in a closed building wasn’t too appealing but he did gain some inspiration from his recollection of that game.

1936 Olympics Are remembered as the Nazi Olympics by many and the Olympics of Jesse Owens humiliating Hitler. But For Naismith, they were the showcase for his game

The rules of the game have evolved.  Originally, Naismith used soccer balls and the baskets were peach baskets.  No one thought of punching a hole in the bottom of the baskets so, when a goal was scored, either a long dowel had to be used to punch the ball out or a guy on a ladder had to climb up to retrieve the ball.  So, the game wasn’t as fast paced as it is today.  Also, originally, bouncing or dribbling the ball as one moved was not part of the rules.  But, you couldn’t run with it either.  It was strictly a passing game.  The court was also half the size of the modern playing area.  Many people today say that basketball players are the best athletes in the world, but I suppose that was not the case back in the day.   Due to the popularity of the YMCA, the game spread rapidly across America and eventually was adopted by organizations in other countries.    Naismith lived to see the little game he invented become an Olympic sport in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.  By that time, the game had evolved to include movement being allowed as long as a player bounced, or dribbled the ball; the dimensions of the court were doubled; the number of players for each team at any given time was reduced from 9 to 5 and there was an introduction of a free throw line for foul shots.  Oh…and someone did figure out that it might be a good idea to have baskets with an open bottom end.   It is interesting to note that basketball is the only sport in which the women’s game developed simultaneously with the men’s game as Smith College took up the sport in 1892, shortly after Naismith had invented it in Springfield.

Here are the original 13 rules as outlined by Naismith:

  • 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.
  • Thursday Morning low still isnt here

    Weather Bottom Line:  The song remains the same.  The shortwave ridging did materialize on Tuesday afternoon but only served to dry the air enough to take out the fog and get the temperatures to the mid to upper 40’s.  There probably was some freezing fog on surfaces like cars and handrails Tuesday morning but road temperatures probably weren’t low enough to cause problems.  Anyway, we still have the pokey low coming in from the west along the stalled frontal boundary.  Look for chilly rain off  and on through early Friday.  Rain chances will go up throughout the day on Wednesday and crescendo on Thursday.  Saturday still looks okay but Sunday…we may even hear some thunder and see some lightning.  At this point, models are hinting at colder air for the last week of January, possibly a little snow.  But we’ll see…the data has been inconsistent and its more than a week away.

    One Response

    1. Good article. It makes you wonder what other common sports of the future are waiting to be invented.

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