Monday, 4 February 2013

Origins of Basketball, disambiguated

During my life, I have heard three separate places lay claim to the invention of the sport of Basketball, and do so with conviction. The source of this confusion lies with this guy:

James Naismith, who is considered the father of the sport.

Canadians will remember this video being played on the CBC (do they still do the heritage moments?) which features a rather cranky seeming Naismith explaining the game to a bunch of kind of derpy looking americans;

The reason Naismith features here as a Canadian is because he is one. Born in Ontario and educated at McGill, where he obtained his BA in phys-ed, anyone looking into this guy will soon come to realize that, although born a Canadian, the sport really wasn't invented here. Sure, it was rattling around in Naismith's head for years before he made it into a real game, but it wasn't as though he came from McGill with the handbook of Basketball fully formed in his McGill school sweater pocket. That's right, this Canadian heritage moment is just another government lie, boys and girls. Moving on.

Naismith moved on too, to Springfield Massachusetts, where he taught at the local YMCA (I suppose that explains the levels of derp in the above video), and it was there that the game became fully fledged, and started to catch on, spreading through YMCA networks like wildfire. WILDFIRE, I SAY. Okay, so probably nothing spread much like wildfire in 1892, (except for wildfires) but you get the idea. It seems that Naismith did not stay in Springfield long, moving on to Denver where he pursued a medical degree. However, Springfield Mass. is the home of the basketball hall of fame: 

Which features an appropriately gigantic basketball, so I think you could very validly make the argument that Springfield is the home of the sport.


After getting his medical degree, Naismith moved to Lawrence Kansas, where he taught at the University of Kansas for many years. KU's basketball program began in 1898, shortly after Naismith arrived on campus. Apart from training up the Phog, Naismith was, reportedly, a pretty shitty coach. HOWEVER, basketball caught on like crazy insane in Kansas (seriously, you should go there), and so that state, having possessed Naismith for longer than anyone, has also laid claim to the invention of the sport, or to being its "home" (I'm not sure which).


Anyway, basically, you can blame Naismith and all of his moving around for the confusion about where Basketball comes from. For me, I'd go with Springfield . . .but then, the CBC *did* put a lot of effort into that well done history minute, so I might have to rethink that . . .

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