15 January 1892: the rules of basketball are published

Canadian PE instructor Dr James Naismith, working at a YMCA training school, published the 13 rules of basketball on this day in 1892.

The origins of many sports get lost in the murk of time. Traditional games are adapted, embellished, and codified – sometimes by more than one governing body – over many years, until they evolve into the games we know today. Basketball, however, isn't one of those sports. It was invented by one man, on this day 124 years ago.

Dr James Naismith was a Canadian PE instructor who was working at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was asked by the school's principal to come up with a game that was easy to learn, could be played indoors in a relatively confined space, and that would keep the students active during the harsh winters.

As a boy at school, Naismith had played a game he called duck-on-a-rock, which involved knocking a small stone off the top of a larger stone by throwing a third stone at it. It was this game that he morphed into basketball. And on 15 January 1892, he published the sport's 13 rules. The rules have undergone some changes since they were published, however. Originally, there was no dribbling – that was introduced in 1901. The free throw was introduced in 1895. And the number of players per side wasn't stipulated – the first game had teams of nine a side.

But after being adopted by many colleges in America, the game took off remarkably quickly. By the 1920s there were hundreds of professional teams in the US. It became an Olympic sport in 1936, and now, it is decidedly big business – especially in the USA. The world's biggest league, America's National Basketball Association (NBA), was formed as the Basketball Association of America in 1946, and became the NBA in 1949. A national league wasn't formed in the UK until 1972, after a few abortive attempts in the 1960s. The current British Basketball League started in 1987, and boasts 11 professional teams.

Recommended

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain
This day in history

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain

On this day in 1999, the national minimum wage was introduced in Britain, bringing an instant pay rise to 1.9 million low-paid workers.
1 Apr 2021
27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party
This day in history

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party

Responding to the need for a single political party to represent the trade unions, the Labour Party was formed on this day in 1900.
27 Feb 2021
24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement
This day in history

24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement

On this day in 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer made their engagement official in front of the world's press at Buckingham Palace.
24 Feb 2021
24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down
This day in history

24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down

On this day in 1809, celebrated playwright Richard Sheridan was effectively ruined when the Drury Lane theatre went up in smoke.
24 Feb 2021

Most Popular

What is hyperinflation and could it happen here?
Inflation

What is hyperinflation and could it happen here?

The Bank of England has been accused of the kind of money-printing that could lead to Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation. But that's very unlikely to happe…
4 May 2021
Copper has hit a ten-year high, but this could just be the start of a huge bull market
Industrial metals

Copper has hit a ten-year high, but this could just be the start of a huge bull market

The price of copper is at its highest for ten years. But supply constraints and a massive rise in demand mean it’s not going to stop there, says Domin…
5 May 2021
Micro-cap stocks: how to get huge returns from tiny firms
Small cap stocks

Micro-cap stocks: how to get huge returns from tiny firms

Micro-cap stocks are often overlooked, but the British market has plenty of them and their potential is massive. Max King picks the best two investmen…
3 May 2021