The invention of basketball ..............................
When Massachusetts PE teacher James Naismith was given two weeks to invent a new indoor game, his headmaster could never have imagined that it would become one of the most popular – and lucrative – sports in the USA. The challenge was to provide an “athletic distraction” to a class of particularly rowdy schoolboys during the cold winter months. It had to be playable in small spaces and “not too rough” – this boisterous bunch had a habit of being somewhat overzealous with a ball, and the headmaster was tired of having to deal with the resulting injuries.
Naismith decided that a big, soft ball would be the safest option. He also knew that he’d have to minimise the opportunity for contact between players, so decided that the ball could only be passed – tackling or running with the ball was strictly forbidden (it wasn’t until many years later that ‘dribbling’ was introduced). Fruit baskets were nailed up at each end of the gym to act as goals, and every time a point was scored, the game had to be halted while the janitor climbed up and retrieved the ball. It wasn’t perfect, but the boys loved it. And there wasn’t a single casualty.