The Borneo Post - Good English

– inventor of basketball



James Naismith was a Canadian sports coach who, in Dec of 1891, took a soccer ball and a peach basket into the gym at the Springfiel­d, Massachuse­tts YMCA and invented basketball. Over the course of the next decade, he worked to refine the game and its rules and build its popularity. In 1936, basketball had become an official event at the Olympic Games in Berlin.

Naismith was born in Ramsay township near Ontario, Canada in 1861. It was during his childhood years that he developed a love of sports and learned to play a neighborho­od game called “Duck on a Rock,” which later influenced the developmen­t of basketball. According to the Naismith Basketball Foundation:

“Duck on a Rock” which was a game that combined tag with throwing. Players formed a line from a distance of 15-20 feet from the base stone. Each player used a fist-sized stone. The object was to dislodge the “guards” stone from the top of the base stone, by throwing, taking turns. The guard would be positioned in a neutral area away from the thrower. If one succeeded, they would go to the back of the line. If you missed the guards’ stone, the “chase” would be on and if tagged before the stone was recovered, the players would trade places.

Over time, they discovered that if the stone was hurled like a baseball it would bound far away and increase the likelihood of being caught by the guard. The players developed a lobbed arcing shot that proved to be more controllab­le, more accurate, and less likely to bounce away, thus increasing their chance of retrieval.

Naismith attended McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, followed by theologica­l training at Presbyteri­an College. After serving as McGill’s athletic director, Naismith moved on to work at the YMCA Training School in Springfiel­d, Massachuse­tts, in 1891.

Invention of Basketball

At the YMCA Training School, athletes found themselves at loose ends between the end of the football season and the start of the baseball season. Several trainers were asked to develop a sport to keep students physically active during the down season; the new game was to have two stated objectives: “make it fair for all players, and free of rough play.”

After considerin­g the balls and rules of play for several popular sports including rugby, lacrosse, football, and soccer, Naismith developed a basic game that involved throwing a soccer ball into peach baskets. The larger soccer ball, he felt, would slow down play to avoid collisions.

After a few experiment­s with the game, Naismith realised that rough play was inevitable near the goals and that players carrying the ball would be tackled. He also placed the goals overhead, and opened the bottom of the nets to allow the ball to drop out; in addition, rememberin­g his childhood experience with “Duck on a Rock,” he developed a new kind of lobbing toss for the game. Ultimately, he establishe­d 13 basic rules for the new game he dubbed basketball.

Following his time at the YMCA, Naismith went on to work for the University of Kansas, initially as a chaplain. At that time, basketball was played at the college level, but competitio­n was usually between YMCAs. It was Naismith and other Kansas coaches who helped push the game into greater prominence, though Naismith himself did not seek the spotlight.

The first-ever college basketball game was played on Jan18, 1896. On that day, 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 lived to see basketball adopted as an Olympic demonstrat­ion sport in 1904 and as an official event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, as well as the birth of the National Invitation Tournament in 1938 and the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championsh­ip in 1939.

James Naismith died of a brain haemorrhag­e in 1939 and was interred at Memorial Park Cemetery in Lawrence, Kansas.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfiel­d, Massachuse­tts, is named in his honor. He was an inaugural inductee in 1959. The National Collegiate Athletic Associatio­n also rewards its top players and coaches annually with the Naismith Awards.

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