BASKETBALL is one of the fastest and most exciting of all team sports. It requires excellent team-work with coordination between all players. It is desirable that all players have agility, strength, speed and endurance, but there have been many examples of players who succeed at high levels of the sport yet compensate for a lack of athleticism through intelligent application of the basic fundamentals. Before the best cooperation is possible it is necessary that every player must be competent in all phases of the game – in ball handling, dribbling, shooting, rebounding, faking and defending.
Basketball was invented in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith- a remarkable man. He was ordained a Presbyterian minister and fully qualified Doctor of Medicine although he never accepted a pastoral oversight of a church and he never took up a private medical practice. Dr. Naismith's calling was teaching and he was Professor of Physical Education at Kansas University from 1898 until he died in 1939. But Dr. Naismith's outstanding and lasting legacy is basketball, a game that had its humble origins at Springfield College and is now played by millions all over the world.
When Canadian born Naismith was young he decided to be a minister of the church and entered Mc Gill University in Montreal. A natural athlete, he won honours there in a wide range of sports including all around gym work, football, track and field and tug of war. He became a member of the faculty at Springfield College in Massachusetts after graduating. The football students at Springfield needed a game to keep them fit during the off season. The terms of reference were these, easy to learn, interesting, playable indoors or any sort of ground and capable of robust exercise without the roughness of football.
Naismith's new game of basketball met all these needs and proved successful from the first moment the ball was tossed in the air.
While the rules have been changed from time to time the principles of basketball today almost the same as when Naismith first planned them. There were few rules in the early days and sometimes as many as fifty players on each side. In 1894 it was decided to use five or nine a side depending on the size of the gym and in 1897 the maximum five a side was established as the standard.
Basketball was introduced to the Olympic Games in 1936in Berlin. The matches were played outdoors on clay courts which were normally used for tennis. The gold medal game was played in rainy conditions and won by the United States of 19-8 against Canada. The half time score was 15-4 indicating a very evenly contested second half. When the Olympics were resumed in London in 1948 after being suspended during World War 11 the basketball tournament was held indoors But throughout Europe, many games were played outdoors until as late as 1970 when basketball was played almost exclusively indoors with timber the most favoured floor surface.