The History of Basketball

From peach baskets to worldwide sport


Basketball was not always the same game we all know today.

Jocelyn Klinghard, Staff Writer

Sutton High School loves its basketball teams, and we aren’t the only ones. From cheering fans to passionate players everyone plays a part in the season. The game is not only considered the most-played sport but it is also the only professional sport to originate in the United States.

However, not many people know the history behind this beloved sport.

James Naismith, a Canadian American physical educator, invented the game of basketball in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts. His reason behind the sport was to create a game that would keep his students active during the winter.

James Naismith stands with the components of his new game. (

When his students from, what now is known as, Springfield College were forced to stay inside to avoid the New England storm the usual activities included marching and strength training. Naismith decided that by inventing this game students would get the same thrill they would normally feel when playing games like football.

His version of the game is not the same as what first comes to mind. In fact, basketball used to be spelled with two words!

The first form of basketball was simply a game of throwing a ball into a basket, not just any basket, a peach basket. Even though the peach basket wasn’t what this inventor had in mind, the long wide shape of the baskets used for holding peaches was perfect to catch the ball.

He had originally asked a janitor to bring him two boxes that would work as goals. When the janitor came back with two peach baskets Naismith decided to work with what he had. Taking these peach baskets, he decided to nail them to the wall of the gym’s balcony.

This is the first basketball court, created from peach baskets and nails. (

The goal was to create a sport that wasn’t too complex to learn but also interesting enough that people could enjoy it. He also needed to find a way that the students could keep up their physical activities while playing the game.

People may be surprised to discover that the first-ever game of basketball wasn’t exactly a competitive game that ended in shaking hands. This game ended in a brawl. The first players ended up kicking and tackling each other on the court. Presently if this type of fighting broke out, a referee would step in and take control, but clearly, the game didn’t start off like that.

A direct quote from an interview with Naismith shares insight into the effects of the brawl, “One boy was knocked out. Several of them had black eyes and one had a dislocated shoulder. After that first match, I was afraid they’d kill each other, but they kept nagging me to let them play again so I made up some more rules.” This quote is from the only known recording of Naismith, and it truly represents the history behind the making of the rules of the game.

The first-ever copy of Naismith’s rules of Basketball sold for 4.3 million. (

Not all of his rules were written at once. In fact, they were constantly being modified until they reached what is now known as the “original 13 rules“. Even though some of these rules are not still used in the game today there are a few that stuck around.

In Naismith’s original rules, the games were meant to last 35 minutes, two 15-minute halves, and a five-minute half-time. Now games can go on for 2 hours!

The first public game was played on March 12th, 1892. Almost 200 spectators came to witness this game being played. Many were curious about the sport since nobody had heard of it or seen it played. Weeks after this game was introduced to the public its popularity grew daily.

The original rules of the game were printed in a magazine and introduced to colleges around the world. Soon after, in 1905, the game was officially declared a permanent winter sport. However, even before this colleges started to hold games against each other.

With all of this popularity, the first professional league was created in 1898 called the National Basketball League (NBL). This league was made up of six different teams. Unfortunately, it only lasted five years and was dissolved in 1904. The league was reintroduced 33 years later.

Today, basketball is much bigger than Naismith ever intended it to be. It was only meant to be a thrilling game that students would be able to play to escape the New England storms, but it grew into so much more.

The game of basketball has come a long way to become the game we all know and love. The history behind it shows people just how much a small thing can grow.