the inventor of
James Naismith was born to
Scottish immigrants in Ramsay Township, near
Almonte, Ontario, Canada, on November 6, 1861. He
attended the grade school at Bennie's
Corners near Almonte and then Almonte High
School, and was known as an excellent athlete at
both, but not as a good student. He entered McGill University, Montreal, in 1883,
where he participated in football, rugby,
lacrosse and ground gymnastics, and earned a
Bachelors Degree in Physical Education. He
attended Presbyterian College of Theology in
Montreal 1887-1890, earned a degree in religion
from Presbyterian Theological Seminary in
Montreal in 1890, and became a physical education
instructor at the YMCA Training
School in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891.
Soon after he joined the faculty in
Springfield, Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick Jr.,
the superintendent of physical education,
challenged Naismith to create a new indoor game
"that would be interesting, easy to learn,
and easy to play in the winter and by artificial
light." The game he came up with was based
on a children's game called duck-on-a-rock,
in which players throw small rocks at a
"duck" placed on top of a large rock in
an attempt to knock the "duck" off. He
had the school's janitor nail a peach basket on
an overhead rail at each end of the school
gymnasium, wrote a set of rules, and the first
game of what he called Basket Ball was played on
December 21, 1891.
Basket Ball was an immediate hit in
Springfield, and by 1892 was being played in
gymnasiums throughout the Unied States. Naismith
replaced the peach baskets with iron hoops and a
hammock-style basket in 1893, but the
now-familiar open-ended nets would not be
introduced for another ten years; until then,
someone had to be assigned to retrieve the ball
every time a basket was scored. Naismith
published his 13 rules in 1894. The first ever
college basketball game was played on January 18,
1896, when the University of Iowa invited student
athletes from the new University of Chicago for
an experimental game; the final score was Chicago
15, Iowa 12.
Naismith left Springfield in 1895 and moved to
Colorado, where he studied medicine at Gross
Medical School (from which he graduated in 1898)
and served as physical education director at the
Denver YMCA. In 1898 he became director of the
gymnasium, campus chaplain, and basketball coach
at the University of Kansas. Ironically, Naismith
was the only head basketball coach for KU to have
a losing record during his tenure (1898-1907) --
In 1916, at the age of 55, Naismith
volunteered for the Kansas National Guard and
served a short term of duty as a chaplain during
the 1916 Mexican border war against Pancho
Villa. In 1936, a contingent of basketball
coaches, fans, and supporters raised funds to
send Naismith to Berlin, Germany, where he saw
basketball played as a medal sport for the first
time. He retired from KU in 1937, and died of a
heart attack in Lawrence on November 28, 1939.
Original Rules of Basket Ball
- The ball may be thrown in any direction
with one or both hands.
- The ball may be batted in any direction
with one or both hands, but never with
- 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.
- The ball must be held in or between the
hands. The arms or body must not be used
for holding it.
- 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.
- A foul is striking at the ball with the
fist, violations of Rules 3 and 4 and
such as described in Rule 5.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The time shall be two 15-minute halves
with five minutes' rest between.
- The side making the most goals in that
time shall be declared the winners.
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