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Slam Dunk! Let’s all Honor James Naismith, the Inventor of Basketball

Slam Dunk! Let’s all Honor James Naismith, the Inventor of Basketball

Today marks the birthday of James Naismith, the man we can thank for one of America’s favorite sports.

James Naismith (1861-1939) was a Canadian-American physical educator, physician, coach, and innovator.  In 1891, at age 30, he came up with the game of basketball.  Naismith wrote the original rule book for the sport and went on to found the University of Kansas basketball program.  Naismith lived to see basketball become an official Olympic sport (1936) and saw the birth of the National Invitation Tournament (1938) and the NCAA Tournament (1939).  To celebrate the grand achievements that this man reached in his lifetime, let’s all learn more about James Naismith and enjoy these fun facts.

1) Naismith invented basketball as a way for the youth to stay active indoors during harsh winters.  He analyzed rugby, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, and football in hopes of incorporating the best aspects of each sport into his new game.

2) The first games of basketball featured teams of 9 who used a soccer ball and peach baskets as hoops.  At the beginning, dribbling wasn’t allowed and players in possession of the ball had to remain stationary.  After every basket, the game was restarted with a jump ball.

3) Naismith became the first basketball coach in the country when he set up the program at Kansas University.   Ironically, he is also the only coach in Kansas University to have a losing average over the course of his career (55-60).

4) Basketball was never Naismith’s favorite sport.  He actually preferred the rigor of gymnastics and wrestling.

5) Over 450 million people play the sport worldwide, according to the Federation of International Basketball Associations, following only golf, baseball, table tennis, cricket, and tennis.

Personally, I have always had a love of the sport as a player.  I have seen changes in the game in my life time.  When my mother played, women were allowed to dribble only once and then to pass the ball.

When I started playing basketball in grammar school, there were six players on a team.  Two forwards, two guards, and two rovers.  Only the rovers could go full court.  It was thought at the time that girls were too weak to travel full court.  Fortunately, when I entered high school that archaic thinking had changed and we were five to a team, and we all traveled full court!

Join us at The Maria Sanchez Show in remembering James Naismith in honor of his birthday.  Don’t forget to check out our latest program, Shadow Politics with Senator Michael D. Brown. Tune in on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. PDT/7:00 p.m. EDT.

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