Run, jump, and slam-dunk!
The first all-American sport, basketball is the great socio-economic equalizer. Race, gender, wealth, and other factors mean nothing on the court. Anyone can play! City dwellers, farm families, and suburban sportsmen can all practice their lay-ups and slam-dunks. Little is needed, just a dimpled round ball and a 10-foot rim.
WHAT WAS THE ORIGIN OF BASKETBALL?
According to sports legend, the game was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a Presbyterian minister and medical doctor. His specialization was in sports medicine. (Oddly, Naismith never actually preached or practiced medicine.)
While teaching at Springfield College (then a school for training YMCA leaders), in Springfield, Massachusetts, Naismith began seeking an indoor athletic activity for cold New England winter months. He nailed a couple of one-bushel peach baskets to the ends of the YMCA gym.
With nine players present, the first basketball game was played on January 20, 1892. The playing area was approximately half the size of a 21st century basketball court. Players began the game with a soccer ball, which they tossed into the fruit baskets. Each time a point was scored, the ball had to be retrieved with a ladder.
By the early 1900s, a metal rim and chicken-wire mesh net had replaced the fruit baskets. (Thus, basketball players became known as “cagers.”)
WHEN DID THE 10-FOOT RIM FIRST APPEAR?
When Naismith nailed the baskets to the YMCA gym walls, they were 10 feet from the ground. Thus began the tradition.
Incidentally, Naismith was philosophically opposed to patenting inventions, so he never earned any sizable sums for his invention of basketball. In fact, his personal financial situation grew so dire that a bank repossessed his home several years later. Had he only known the value of his creation, he might have died a very rich man.
In 1936, basketball was recognized as an Olympic sport. Teams competed in the Berlin Winter Olympics that year. (The USA team won the gold medal by beating the Canadians 19-8.) Tirteen years late, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed.
WHAT ARE THE BASIC SPECIFICATIONS FOR A BASKETBALL COURT?
A basketball rim must be exactly 120 inches (10 feet) above the ground.
Incidentally, the rim is 18 inches in diameter and positioned 6 inches in front of the backboard. The backboard is 3 feet high and 6 feet wide.
A standard basketball court is 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. (Some high school and college courts are ten feet shorter.) The free-throw line is 15 feet in front of the backboard.
The orange rubber basketball used today was created by Tony Hinkle in the 1950s.
Today, portable basketball hoops are popular on playgrounds and private driveways. These offer adjustable heights. Even toddlers can shoot hoops, using child-sized rims. Now, that’s more my speed!