The history of basketball and its inventor
Many sports have mythical origins, but as a relatively young invention of the modern world, basketball has an unambiguous origin story and an undisputed founder. Dr. James Naismith was a Canadian native who moved to Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States to teach physical education at the International YMCA Training School, where he invented basketball in 1891.
The game was meant to provide his rowdy students with an avenue for indoors physical activity during the cold winter months, in a manner that emphasized skill and minimized unnecessary contact between players. The result was a game that prioritized passing and soft lobs at a goal positioned high above the ground. The uncomplicated title of ‘basketball’ was agreed upon, and the game has advanced since the early days of soccer balls and peach baskets.
Although the game grew exponentially in its popularity, Dr Naismith was initially less than enamored with his invention and expressed his affinity for other sports. He started the legendary Kansas Jayhawks basketball program but did not ironically did not manage to amass a winning record in his own game, and downplayed the complexity of coaching the game.
Despite this, the development of basketball could not be halted. Soldiers, missionaries and teachers alike all spread the game across the globe, while talented travelling teams started to tour the States and put on shows. Colleges began their own programs as well, way before professional leagues entered the mix.
Today, the game is played and watched by millions all over the world, with the NBA holding fort as the premier competition. The late Dr Naismith is still remembered fondly within basketball circles, with the Basketball Hall of Fame and the FIBA World Cup trophy both named after him.