James Naismith: How the physical education teacher created basketball

Google is celebrating the anniversary of the day professor, doctor, and coach Dr James Naismith published the rules to the game he had invented, basketball.

Born on 6 November 1861 in Ontario, Canada, Naismith showed an interest in sports and physical education early on.

The interest would carry him to college at McGill University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1888, and where he would also begin his career as a physical education teacher.

Naismith’s career eventually led to his move to the United States, where he took a job at the YMCA International Training College in Springfield, Massachusetts.

According to the Google Doodle, it was in Massachusetts where Naismith would invent the rules of basketball in 1891, after he was tasked with creating an indoor game to keep students occupied during the winter months.

His invention, known at the time as basket ball, included features of soccer, football and hockey, and rugby and consisted of two teams of nine.

The game, introduced to his students on 21 December, proved popular immediately, with Naismith publishing the original rules of the game a year later in “The Triangle”, a college newspaper.

Despite the success of his new game, Naismith’s focus remained on teaching and education. In 1898 he received his medical degree from the University of Colorado, before founding a basketball program at the University of Kansas, where he also took on the role of physical education director.

By 1936, the sport had made its way to the Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where Naismith was honoured with the role of throwing the ball for the tip-off of the first game.

After his death in 1939, the popularity of basketball only grew, with the sale of the pages he wrote the original 13 basketball rules on in 1891 selling for $4.3m in December 2010 just one testament to his lasting legacy.

“Here’s to Dr James Naismith – thank you for creating one of the world’s favourite pastimes!” the Google Doodle reads.

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