James Naismith was a sports inventor and coach who invented basketball in 1891. He was born in Canada and was raised a Christian. He eventually moved to the United States where he spent the remainder of his life. He graduated college at McGill University and then moved to work at a YMCA where he invented basketball. Eventually he started a basketball program at Kansas University. Basketball has changed over the years and is now a universal sport. He will be remembered because of his contributions to sports and entertainment (Biography.com).
James Naismith was born on November 6, 1861 in Almonte, Ontario, Canada to Margaret and John Naismith. He was orphaned at the age of ten when his parents died of typhoid fever. They both died within three weeks of each other. Naismith and his siblings went to live with their uncle, who raised them from then on. James Naismith went to Bennie’s Corner one room school. His academics in early school were not his main priority, and he spent most of his time playing sports and messing around with his friends. Naismith attended Almonte High School for two years, and then he dropped out. Four years later, he returned and finally graduated (Encyclopedia.com).
In 1886, Naismith went off to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He studied hard and played many sports. He got a degree in philosophy and graduated in 1887. He then went on to earn a degree at McGill’s theological school. Naismith thought about becoming a Christian minister but instead followed his dream and became a physical educator. He moved to Springfield, Massachusetts and got a job at a YMCA. He took courses at the YMCA and eventually got a degree in physical education. This allowed him to combine faith and physical education, his two main interests (Encyclopedia.com).
In the summer, the athletes had many sports options that they could choose from, but during the winter the options were very limited. In the year 1891, Naismith was the head of the Indoor Physical Education Program. Luther Gulick, the head of the whole physical education program, instructed Naismith to come up with an indoor sport that was not too rough but would keep athletes in shape (encyclopedia.com)
Naismith had two weeks to come up with a sport that met the objectives that he was given. At first he thought of bringing in games like lacrosse or soccer but the gymnasium was much too small for a game like that. With time running out, he remembered a game that he played as a little kid called “Duck on a Rock”. Duck on a rock is a game where rocks are thrown at a different rock on top of a boulder to try and knock the rock of the boulder. Naismith also took inspiration from the lacrosse players, while watching them throw balls into a box at the gym. Naismith had the idea to attach peach baskets high on the wall and cut holes in the bottom so players could throw the ball in the basket to make a goal. Naismith drew up the rules for his game in about an hour. His original rulebook had thirteen rules and most of the rules are still in use today (historybits.com).
In December of 1891, the very first game of basketball was played. The game was an instant success. The YMCA printed an article about basketball along with the thirteen original rules in their newspaper that was printed across the country. Students at the YMCA took basketball to their home country and in just over two years, basketball was being played in over a dozen countries. Naismith didn’t like to draw attention to himself and, although his students wanted him to name it “Naismith-Ball”, he chose the name basketball (encyclopedia.com).
Naismith worked as a physical educator at the YMCA for a while longer, but then left and went to the University of Colorado Medical School. He got a medical degree from the University in 1898. Naismith then went to Kansas University where he became the physical educator and chapel director in 1898. Naismith started the first basketball program at Kansas University and coached a total of 110 games, winning 55 and losing 60. He remains Kansas’s only basketball coach to have a losing record. Naismith was also a founding member of the Kansas School of Religion (Kansan.com).
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James Naismith invented a sport that millions of people watch everyday, and is a way for young and old athletes to stay fit. As a child, he loved playing games and sports which increased his interest in becoming physical educator. His experiences as a physical educator helped him have the knowledge and creativity to come up with a new sport. He was able to make basketball one of the biggest sports in history. What started out as a game with peach baskets and thirteen simple rules, has evolved into a sport loved and played by millions of people.