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Who Invented Basketball?

Dr. James Naismith is credited with the invention of basketball.

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Basketball is a game of ten players from two teams, each team having five players. The athletes play with limited contact on a rectangular court where a team can score goals by shooting a ball through a raised basket that the opposing team defends at the end of the court. Basketball is of a fully known and exact origin, unlike most sports which have obscure origins. Specifically, the inventor of basketball wrote an account of the game indicating the first basketball game was played on December 21, 1891.

Origin of Basketball

Dr. James Naismith is credited with the invention of the game while working at Springfield College, then the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. Dr. Luther Gulick, the physical education director, asked Naismith to develop a new game that his students could play during winter periods when they were indoors. The game aimed to assist in keeping track and shape among the field runners. Naismith came up with basketball as a development of a game from his childhood, "Duck on a Rock."

Dr. Naismith chose to use the soccer ball to replace the rock since it is quite safe when thrown and could not cause a lot of injuries when it hit the players. The nature of the game was to throw this ball into the peach basket fixed at a certain height of the wall. Naismith positioned the basket high up on the wall to also minimize injuries that he had observed to mostly occur near the goals of other sports as defenders and players from the opposite team become more aggressive at these points.

The "Conspiracy Theory" Origin of Basketball

The "conspiracy theory" came up in the 1950s and has become the alternative explanation of the origin of basketball. The theory asserts that the inventor of the game was Lambert G. Will. He was the head of YMCA in Herkimer, New York, and the theory claims that he invented basketball almost one year before the assertion of the first game by Dr. Naismith. The primary evidence for the theory's claim is the picture of the game with 91-92 written on it which possibly (but not necessarily) implied there was a team formed before Dr. Naismith's game.

Developments in Basketball Over Time

One interesting fact about the first basketball is that the peach baskets of the game did not have any openings at their bottoms. Therefore, it means that whenever a player from any team scored a goal (getting the ball in the basket), someone had to retrieve it by climbing a ladder up to the basket. The process of retrieving the soccer ball was time-consuming since the game had to be paused.

Consequently, a small hole was put at the bottom of the basket so that a ball could be knocked out using a wooden dowel that was long enough to reach the basket. Still, the ball could not come out of the basket on its own since the hole was not large enough to allow it drop down, but at least it was more efficient than when there was no hole at all. Fortunately, in modern-day basketball, the hole at the bottom of the basket has been made to be even larger to allow the ball to drop down through it whenever a player scores a goal.

Furthermore, in the first basketball, dribbling was forbidden, and it was only passing the ball that was allowed while a player with the ball was in place. A significant development in the modern day basketball is that dribbling is now part of the game.

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