Basketball began in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts when its creator, a Canadian physical education instructor named James Naismith, wanted to find a less injury-prone sport than football. He developed this new game as a way for his students to keep conditioned in the long cold months of a New England winter. It consisted of peach baskets and a soccer-style ball. He published 13 rules for the game and took his class of 18 students and divided them up into two teams of nine players. The object of the game was simple; to try and get the ball into the peach baskets that had been nailed to the lower railing of the the gym's balcony...one on either end. Whenever a player managed to score a point, when he got the ball into the basket, the game came to a halt so the janitor with his ladder, could retreive the ball from the basket. After a while, the bottoms of the peach baskets were removed so the ball could easily fall through. The first public basketball game was played in Springfield, Massachusetts on 11 March, 1892.
The YMCA played a major role in the spread of this new game throughout the US, Canada, and the world. As early as 1893, the first European match was played in the Montmartre area of Paris. About this same time, matches were being played in China, India, Japan, and Persia, as well. In 1917, when American troops began fight in Europe during WWI, the American Expeditionary Force took the game of basketball with them wherever they went. Together, with the troops, there were hundreds of physical education instructors who know how to play the game of Basketball. Mr. Naismith spent nearly two years in France, during this same time period, and brought his new invention to the French people.
The first professional league was founded in 1898. Six teams took part in the National Basketball League. The first champions were the Trenton Nationals, followed by the New York Wanders, the Bristol (CT) Pile Drivers, and the Camden Electrics. The league was abandoned in 1904. The original Celtics are considered to be the fathers of basketball and were presented as the "World's Basketball Champions." The players had to sign a contract to play with them. Jim Furey organized matches and the team, much like a circus, moved from town to town on a daily basis. The original Celtics are incorrectly thought of as the forebearers of the modern Celtics but, really, the only thing they share is the name. The greatest level of activity in basketball, outside of the YMCA, was in US colleges. Vanderbilt University was the first college team play an outside opponent, the YMCA in Nashville, Tennessee, on February 7, 1893. The first recorded game between two college teams was played between Hamline University and Minnesota A & M on 9 February, 1895.
The NBA has helped to popularize basketball worldwide through the big name athletes, like Michael Jordan, that have played the game throughout the years. In 1992, the American Olympic "Dream Team" also helped basketball to gain prominence with international audiences. The exhibition team, The Harlem Globetrotters, have continued to bring excitement to the game, both at home and abroad. The Globetrotters succes have earned them the reputation as Basketball's goodwill mmbassadors.
I'm very lucky. I've seen the both the Harlem Globetrotters play and I've had the opportunity to visit the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. As most of you know, I'm not much of an athelete, but I do like to try out new things. Frogs, generally, make pretty good basketball players...we can jump really high without much effort. I may be the lone exception to the rule, however. Perhaps it's because I spend too much time sitting at the computer. But I will certainy give the game my "best shot" this weekend.
Whatever you do, and wherever you go this first full weekend of 2017, please stay safe and have FUN! See you back here on Monday.