The History of Basketball
In 1891 at the Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA, physical educator, James Naismith, struggled with a rowdy PE class which was confined to indoor games throughout the harsh New England winter, and thus was perpetually short-tempered. Under orders from Dr. Luther Gulick, head of Springfield YMCA Physical Education, Naismith was given 14 days to create an indoor game that would provide an “athletic distraction”: Gulick demanded that it would not take up much room, could help its track athletes to keep in shape and explicitly emphasized to “make it fair for all players and not too rough.”
The first game of “Basket Ball” was played on December 21, 1891. In a handwritten report, Naismith described the circumstances of the inaugural match. In contrast to modern basketball, the players played nine versus nine, handled a soccer ball, not a basketball, and instead of shooting at two hoops, the goals were a pair of peach baskets.
Of this first day of basketball Naismith recounts the following, “As I walked down the hall, I met Mr. Stebbins, the superintendent of buildings. I asked him if he had two boxes about eighteen inches square. Stebbins thought a minute, and then said: ‘No, I haven’t any boxes, but I’ll tell you what I do have. I have two old peach baskets down in the storeroom, if they will do you any good.’ I told him to bring them up, and a few minutes later he appeared with the two baskets tucked under his arm. They were round and somewhat larger at the top than at the bottom. I found a hammer and some nails and tacked the baskets to the lower rail of the balcony, one at either end of the gym.¹ This was about 10 feet from the floor. I then put the 13 rules on the bulletin board just behind the instructor’s platform, secured a soccer ball and awaited the arrival of the class. The class did not show much enthusiasm but followed my lead. I then explained what they had to do to make goals, tossed the ball up between the two center men and tried to keep them somewhat near the rules. Most of the fouls were called for running with the ball, though tackling the man with the ball was not uncommon.”
In contrast to modern basketball, the original rules did not include what is known today as “the dribble”. Since the ball could only be moved up the court via a pass, early players tossed the ball over their heads as they ran up court. Also, following each “goal” a jump ball was taken in the middle of the court. These were the humble beginnings of the game of basketball – a game born in the fertile mind of one creative, and persistent physical educator named James Naismith. Naismith lived long enough to see basketball included in the 1936 Olympic Games. Today basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world.
The Original 13 Rules of Basketball:
The Inventor of Basketball, James Naismith, originally drafted a set of 13 Rules of basketball on December 21, 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts for the YMCA. Here are those original rules:
The ball is to be an ordinary Association football (i.e. soccer ball)
- The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
- The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands, (never with the fist).
- A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man running at good speed.
- The ball must be held in or between the hands. The arms or body must not be used for holding it.
- No shouldering, holding, pushing, striking or tripping in any way of an opponent. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game. No substitution shall be allowed.
- A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violations of Rules 3 and 4 and such as described in Rule 5.
- If either side make three consecutive fouls it shall count as a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).
- Goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the ground into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edge and the opponents move the basket, it shall count as a goal.
- When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field and played by the first person touching it. In case of dispute the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds. If he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on them.
- The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have the power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.
- The referee shall be the judge of the ball and decide when it is in play in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made and keep account of the goals with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.
- The time shall be two 15-minute halves with five minutes’ rest between.
- The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winners. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.
How to Play Proto B-ball
With Proto B-ball, Sportime is pleased to take you back-in-time to the original game of basketball! As a Throwback Ballgame, Proto B-ball is a basketball game that seeks to transport your Physical Education class back-in-time to the way PE classes first played basketball. James Naismith’s original 13 rules of basketball are the basis for the rules of Proto B-ball. It is time now to hop into the Throwback Ballgame time-machine and get ready to experience the original game of basketball! Here is how to play Proto B-ball:
- Setup: First, setup the play area by placing the two Proto B-ball “peach baskets” on either end of the basketball court. Attach the peach basket to either your big red bases, or by using the wall-mounts for each basket.
- Teams: Basketball was originally played by two teams of 9 players on each team. Divide the class into two teams of 9 (18 players total on the floor). There were originally 3 forwards, 3 centers and 3 backs. The forwards focused on offense and scoring. The backs focused on defense and the centers played both offense and defense.
- Start of Game: In Proto B-ball, the game begins with a jump-ball, like in modern basketball.
- Scoring: All baskets made are worth only 1 point.
- No dribbling: In Proto B-ball, dribbling is not allowed. The ball can only be advanced by passing it to another player. Once a player has the ball, he must stop running. No player can take more than 2 steps with the ball in hand. If a player takes more than 2 steps with the ball, he must forfeit the ball to the other team due to a travelling violation.
- Out-of-bounds: Out-of-bounds and throw-ins are handled the same way as in modern basketball.
- Fouls: Fouls are called for the same types of infractions that are considered to be fouls in modern basketball. There are no free-throw shots in Proto B-ball.
- Individual fouls: If an individual player fouls once, then the other team gains possession of the ball for this first personal foul. If the same player fouls a second time, then his team loses possession of the ball, and he is penalized by having to stand outside the play area until a basket is scored by either team. Once a basket is scored, he may return to play the game.
- Team fouls: If any one team fouls consecutively, three times in a row (without the other team fouling), then the opposing team is credited with a goal (1 point). Once the point is credited to the opposing team, the team who just committed the foul will then receive the ball, and the game continues.
- Duration of Game: Exactly like the very first game of basketball ever played, Proto B-ball has two 15 minute halves, with a 5 minute half-time. There are no time-outs in Proto B-ball.
Click below to view our PDF Activity Guide