Thousands of years ago, there weren’t as many sports as there are today. Just like the finches of the Galapagos Islands, sports have evolved to become better and have branched out to create more ways to toss a ball.
Basketball is one of the most classic of sports. Two hoops, one ball and two teams going at it.
An ancient sport that is very similar to basketball is the unofficially named Mesoamerican ballgame, invented in the year 2500 B.C. If you have ever seen the DreamWorks movie “El Dorado,” you will know exactly what this game entails.
It was a popular sport across ancient Mesoamerica and played by this region’s major civilizations. The Mesoamerican ballgame had the likeness of basketball. It had two vertical circles, or “hoops,” set up across from each other, and two teams would use every part of their bodies to try and send the ball through the opposing team’s circle.
Of course, it had its differences as well, as it was often used to determine the victim of human sacrifices for religious ceremonies.
While ancient sports have the similarities of basketball, it is by no means the oldest sport in the book, being first invented in 1891 by James Naismith. During a seminar, Naismith was tasked with creating a non-violent game that could be played indoors during the cold winter months.
It was first played in a local gym, where they used peach baskets for hoops and a ladder to get the ball out of the basket after every shot. This is why a basketball hoop is often referred to as “the basket,” since the hoop was originally a peach basket.
Naismith wrote 13 rules for the game, and the concept was the same as today’s version: to pass, score and play defense. In the original game, players scored just one point instead of two after successfully getting the ball into the basket.
The original rule when it came to fouls was that if either team committed three consecutive fouls, it counted as a point for the other team.
Over time, the basket was traded for an open-ended hoop with a net, which brought more speed to the game because you didn’t have to climb a ladder to get the ball every time someone scored.
As it gained popularity, another element was added to the game of basketball: the backboard. This changed the strategy of shooting and brought more ways to score into the game.
Basketball first became a national sport in Berlin in 1936, when it was implemented into the Olympic games. Later, the NBL (National Basketball League) and BAA (Basketball Association of America) merged to create the NBA (National Basketball Association).
Before merging, the BAA brought the 3-point line into the sport, which made for higher scoring games.
Basketball went from a mediocre sport to a national level sport. It is one of the most popular sports in the world and has produced some of the greatest athletes. Seeing how far the game of basketball has come, Naismith must have gotten an A–plus on his assignment during that seminar in 1891.