The game of basketball (then known as "basket ball") began in 1891 with 18 men in a in Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA gymnasium. It has since grown into a sport that more than 300 million people play worldwide. The man who created this extremely popular sport was Dr. James Naismith.
James Naismith had humble beginnings. He was born near Almonte, Ontario and started his school years in a tiny place called Bennie's Corners. He became an orphan at the age of ten when both his parents succumbed to Typhoid Fever at which time he lived with his his siblings at the home of his maternal grandmother until her passing two years later. James then went to live with his uncle, Peter Young. He attended high school in Almonte adn though he worked before and after school, he always found time to play.
At McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Jim (James) Naismith chose to put sports aside and concentrate on his studies. He was eventually persuaded by other students to join the athletic program soley for the purpose of staying in shape. He began winning the university's highest honours for athletes and eventually graduated as one of the top ten in his class. He later became instructor of physical education at McGill.
Jim often visited the Y.M.C.A. in Montreal and left his former home behind to continue studies there. Naismith and several other students were asked to create an indoor game that would bring recreational sports into the gymnasium as a distraction through the brutal New England winter. Naismith was then assigned as the indoor physical education program instructor. The process of creating an indoor game was difficult but recollection of a childhood game soon had his idea well its' way to reality. He developed basketball´s original 13 rules and the game of basketball.
Naismith avoided the glory of competition, publicity and self-promotion. It is sad that he never had the chance to see basketball become the wildly popular it is today, Naismith´s biggest thrill came when basketball become an Olympic sport at the 1936 Berlin Games. Creating the game of basketball never brought him fame or fortune during his lifetime, but enormous recognition following his passing in 1939.
The Life and Times of Dr. James Naismith
The Naismith Visitor Centre
The Canadian Inventor of Basketball
Naismith´s Sport Resulted in Basketball Fever
Photo courtesy of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame