Basketball: From small town to big time

Metro News Service
Wednesday, March 2, 2022

When the weather cools, the action heats up on basketball courts across the country. Basketball is a popular winter sport that has been ingrained in North American culture since its inception in the late 19th century.

Basketball is believed to have originated at Springfield College (once known as the International YMCA Training School) in Massachusetts. Male students were restless once football season ended and needed a sport that could provide exercise and help them work off steam. A physical activity instructor named James Naismith was tasked with coming up with a game that students could play indoors under artificial light without the roughness of football, soccer or rugby.

Naismith came up with a game that employed peach baskets nailed to the lower rail of the gymnasium balcony — one at each end. He then came up with the initial 13 rules of moving a ball across the court and getting the ball in the baskets and what constituted fouls, according to Springfield College.

The first game consisted of nine players on each team because Naismith’s class included just 18 students. The final score of the inaugural basketball was just 1-0, but over time players began to excel at basketball, and the game gradually became more popular.

Basketball is now popular across the globe. The National Basketball Association has opened 12 international offices and has started broadcasting games to more than 200 countries and territories. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in 2018 that he believes that basketball can be the No. 1 sport in the world (soccer currently holds that ranking). Young people are increasingly playing the sport, and rapid growth in China and India also has fueled basketball’s popularity.

Total NBA revenue hit $8 billion last season, according to Forbes, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Little did James Naismith know when he put up peach baskets and tossed a soccer ball that his sport would one day become a global phenomenon.