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Q & A: Basketball History

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
can you tell me about the inventor of the basketball? How has the basketball changed since it was first made? How has the game changed since it was first played?
- Jason (age 12)
Beck Middle School, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, United States o

Hi Jason,

According to , basketball began in 1891 at what is now Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts (it used to be called the "School for Christian Workers", and they used a YMCA gymnasium). The inventor was James Naismith, and his original 13 rules of the game can be found on the web site. He was given "14 days to create an indoor game that would provide an `athletic distraction` for a rowdy class through the brutal New England winter."

You can browse the NBA’s rules on the web (there are too many to include here) at Lots of things like having a special rule for players who shatter backboards probably didn’t occur to Mr. Naismith.

The basketball itself has changed only a little over time. The original balls I believe were made of a leather covering over an inflated rubber ball, perhaps with a layer of cloth for stiffness in between. These days you can still buy balls made like that, but there is now a large variety of imitation leathers and plastics that balls are made of. I just went shopping for a basketball a couple of months ago and found a dizzying array of all different models at all different prices at the local discount store.


(published on 10/22/2007)

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