The History of Basketball – Fitness Research Paper
Dr. James Naismith came up with the idea of basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1891. Dr. Luther Gulick, head of Physical Education at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School,
ordered Naismith to create an indoor game that would provide a distraction for students throughout the winter. He developed the original 13 rules and thus the game of basketball emerged.
The first official game of basketball was believed to be played on December 21, 1891. Naismith’s gym class in Springfield, Massachusetts, played it. The equipment used to play the first game was a soccer ball, peach baskets, and nine players to each team. Since then, there have been major changes to the game.
The court dimensions for any basketball court have not changed very much. The sideline, the line where the bench and stands are, is ninety-four feet long. The baseline, line underneath the hoop, is fifty feet long. The three-point line is nineteen feet, nine inches from the hoop. The free throw line is fifteen feet from the hoop. The hoop is ten feet above the ground. Each basket is worth two points, foul shots are worth one point, and of course the three-point shot from outside the three-point line.
Adding to the original 13 rules to basketball, we now have quite a few more. The rules started to change about two years after the original 13 were developed. The first rule changes were the four fundamental principles of the game. Players with the ball must not make progress, the goal is above the head of the players, roughness is eliminated, and a player may not receive the ball by use of contact, these are the four fundamental principles. Five players were allowed on the court from each team after 1897 since the original nine were too many players to have on the court at one time. Players were allowed unlimited fouls up till 1908 when the five foul limit was adopted. Once a player reached the foul limit they were removed from the rest of the game.
The next two rules were changes of equipment. Glass backboards replaced the wood ones, and a basketball was invented, so the soccer balls were no longer needed. In 1906, the hoops were changed from peach baskets to metal baskets. The metal baskets had a hole in the middle and a pole was used to hit the ball out of the hoop. Climbing a ladder was originally how the ball was retrieved after a shot was made. Finally, in 1913, the hoops we have today were developed, the metal rims and net. This was the last edition to the equipment rule changes.
The next major changes that helped to increase the speed of the game were the dribbling and shooting rules. Dribbling was allowed from the beginning; however you were not allowed to dribble in and take a shot. In 1934, this rule changed and we now have lay-ups and fast breaks. A jump ball is when the referee tosses the ball up at half court and two players jumped to win the ball out of the air. Jump balls were used for everything from fouls to some sort of play stoppage until 1937 when the uses of jump balls were eliminated.
Free throws, otherwise known as foul shots, have been around since 1895, but it was only since 1923 that the person fouled had to shoot the foul shots. Anyone could shoot the foul shot, in which case teams had one player who specialized in foul shooting, this rule had to change because of disadvantages towards each team. Throughout the 1940’s, all different kinds of shots were developed. The jump shot was first brought into play, along with dunking. In addition to dunking, goaltending was right there to defend it.
The game speed picked up immensely with all of the rule adaptations. To increase the game speed even more, the three-second rule was added along with a 24-second shot clock in the 1950’s. Another time change is the addition of the 10-second rule, which is used when the offense has the ball and is bringing the ball up the court. The ten seconds is how long they have to bring the ball across mid-court. These new rules went against the offense so that they could not stall the ball. The final rule change to help the game was the three-point line and three-point shot which were introduced to the game in the 1960’s.
There were a number of basketball leagues throughout the years. However, most of them were unsuccessful after so many seasons. The first basketball league was the National Basketball League (NBL), which developed in 1898. The first professional league was the American Basketball League (ABL) which formed in 1925. In 1936, basketball was recognized as an Olympic Team. The National Basketball Association (NBA), which is still exists today, was formed in 1949. The Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League combined to form the NBA. The NBA had seventeen teams in three divisions.
The last league to develop was the American Basketball Association (ABA) nicknamed the Lively League. The ABA existed for nine seasons from 1967-1976. This league differed from every other league because they used red, white, and blue colored basketballs. The ABA was more of a show league then anything else. The ABA and NBA were rival leagues. In June 1976, the rivalry ceased. The leagues joined together. The four strongest ABA teams survived the merger. The teams were the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs. The other ABA teams vanished along with the league itself. Julius “Dr.J” Erving, (one of the most well known basketball players in his day) played in ABA before the merge.
Women’s basketball was always around but was not a popular event for men to watch. After Naismith invented basketball, a girl’s school nearby caught on and started to play as well. The woman who started women’s basketball was Senda Berenson, a teacher of physical education at Smith College.
Berenson thought that there should also be a separate set of rules for women. She devised a few rules. She divided the court in to three sections. For a five-woman team, there were two shooting guards, one center, and two forwards. The shooting guards scored all the points, the center distributed the ball to the guards, and the forwards played defense and passed the rebounds they got to the center. Playing defense on a nine-woman team were two forwards and a goal keeper. On offense there were two guards and a goal guard. In the center section there were three centers, a forward center, back center, and jumping center.
In contrast to men’s basketball, the women were allowed three dribbles a piece, than could hold the ball for three seconds before passing it to a teammate. If the player took more dribbles, or held the ball longer then three seconds a foul was called. The first set of rules for women’s basketball was published in 1901. The rules followed with Berenson’s original idea. Snatching or batting the ball was not permitted and was considered a foul. Also, the court was divided up in three sections. The number of players on the court ranged from 5-10 due to how big the gym was.
In 1903, the rules changed again. The number of players now ranged from 6-9. Play was stopped constantly during basketball games because of the fouls and the hoop. The hoop still had a basket with a bottom on it. The open net hoops were against the rules for fear of the ball going through the nets so quickly the officials will not know if the team scored or not. Every time a player was fouled; it lead to a foul shot. If someone held the ball too long, stepped out of bounds, or even double-teamed a player who was attempting to shoot got a foul called on them and a foul shot was awarded to the other team.
To keep the game more feminine, the rules committee suggested making sure the women were not using slang, chewing gum, or sitting on the floor and that their appearance was acceptable. Unsportsmanlike conduct was introduced to prevent kicking, hair pulling, and slapping, any display of temper was to be considered a foul. If the coaches shouted at one of the players, whether good or bad, it was considered to be a foul. I believe this is where we get the technical foul rule used today.
The dribbling rule was eliminated in 1910 but restored in 1913 because of complaints that the game was boring. Defensive restrictions were also made. The two-handed, overhead pass and shot was perfected because it was very hard to block. Defensive players had to remain in a vertical plane and could not lean over because it gave them an advantage for blocking shots and passes. For a time, the two-handed, overhead shot was only worth one point instead of two points because it was impossible to block without breaking the vertical plane.
Women of all ages started to play basketball. The sport was becoming very popular for younger girls. Basketball was started to be played in high school, as well as college. However, women did not have an official league to play in after college. For a while, they did not have an Olympic team either.
The Olympic team developed in the 1970s. All women who had a lot of talent played in the Olympics. That is until April 24, 1996, when the NBA introduced the idea of having the Women’s National Basketball Association. The WNBA began playing in June of 1997. Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo, and Lisa Leslie were the first players to sign with the WNBA in October 1996. Other member of the Olympic Gold Medal team also joined the WNBA. To start the league, there were eight teams, and those eight teams still exist today.
Basketball has come far from the first game in 1891. Many men and women have made names for themselves over the years. Some of the best players in basketball consist of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, and Magic Johnson just to name a few. Sheryl Swoopes, Susie McConnell, Cynthia Cooper, Lisa Leslie, and Rebecca Lobo are some of the best players to have played in the WNBA. Along with these greats, there are many aspiring basketball players out there who will make a name for their selves in years to come.
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