James
Naismith
Father of
Basketball
Angela Lumpkin
University of Kansas
His Early Years
 He
was born on November 6, 1861, in
Almonte, Ontario, Canada, the son of
Scottish immigrants (John and Margaret
[Young] Naismith).
 He attended a one-room schoolhouse in Bennie’s
Corners near Almonte, where he developed strength
and skill in physical activities.
 He became an orphan at age nine (along with older
sister Annie and younger brother Robert) when his
parents died from typhoid fever.
 He was then raised by his unmarried uncle, Peter
Young, and learned lessons from him in honesty,
initiative, reliability, and self-reliance.
His Education
 He
graduated from Almonte High School in 1883, but
only after dropping out and working for four years.
 He earned his B.A. in physical education from
McGill University in Montreal in 1887.
 He graduated from Presbyterian College of Theology
in 1890 (while teaching physical education at McGill).
 He attended the YWCA Training School in 18901892, serving on the faculty from 1891-1895.
(It was there in 1891 he invented basketball).
 He earned his medical degree between 1895-1898
while serving as Physical Director of the YMCA in
Denver.
 McGill
James Naismith, Student
University—Literary Society; debater; cited for
Honors in Hebrew and philosophy and was one of the
top ten in his class when he graduated at age 25
 Presbyterian College—he was associate editor of the
Presbyterian College Journal; president of the
Philosophical and Literary Society; active in the
Missionary Society; each year, he was recognized as
the second highest academically in his class
 YMCA Training School—he was so competent that
he joined the faculty while completing the two-year
program (committed to development of whole man)
 Gross Medical College—graduated at age 37½ while
working full-time
James Naismith, Athlete
 McGill
University—gymnastics; rugby; lacrosse; he
won the top medal as the all-around gymnastics
champion in his junior and senior years
 Presbyterian College—rugby
 Played for the Shamrocks, a professional lacrosse
team
 While a theology student, he began to consider how
he might help men through athletics, rather than the
ministry.
 YMCA Training School—played rugby and football
 Played basketball only twice—once at the YMCA
Training School (1892) and once at KU (1898)
Need for a New Game
 Structured
gymnastics work was not exciting or
enjoyable. A new, interesting game was needed.
 There was no competitive game for the winter months
(between football and baseball seasons).
 The first players, who were in a class
for preparing YMCA secretaries,
seemed to be interested in participating
only in something playful, yet competitive.
 Naismith told Dr. Luther Gulick, who assigned him
the class, “All that we have to do is to take the factors
of our known games and recombine them, and we will
have the game we are looking for.” (p. 33)
 He tried modifications of football, soccer, and
lacrosse but without success.
 All
Take the Best from the Rest
team games used a ball; a bigger, lighter ball was
easier to handle; could be easily caught and thrown;
and no other equipment needed.
 To eliminate roughness, tackling, and physical contact,
there could be no running with the ball, other than the
steps needed to stop.
 To advance the ball, a player would have to throw or
bat it with his hand, not fist, in any direction.
 Remembering the lobbed, arching shots from Duck
on the Rock and to prevent men from defending a
goal on the floor, the objective of the game should be
to throw the ball at a elevated box above their heads.
 Starting the game by throwing the ball up between just
two players would reduce roughness.
The Circumstances
 No
basketball, so a soccer ball
was used
 No boxes available, but had
two peach baskets
 No standard for the baskets, so
the baskets were nailed to the
balcony (which just happened
to be 10’ high)
 There were 18 students in the
class, so the first game was
played with 3 forwards, 3
centers, and 3 backs on each
team
December 15, 1891
“The game was success
from the time that the first
ball was tossed up. The
players were interested and
seemed to enjoy the game.
Word soon got around that
they were having fun in
Naismith’s gym class, and
only a few days after the
first game we began to have
a gallery.” (p. 57)
A
In the Beginning…
student who played in the first game suggested that
the name of the new game should be “Naismith ball.”
The inventor declined saying that name would kill the
game. So the student suggested “basketball.”
 Females played basketball almost
immediately (on an early team was Maude
Sherman, the future Mrs. Naismith).
 The first rules (the original 13) were published in the
YMCA’s school newspaper, the “Triangle,” in January
of 1892 under the heading “A New Game.”
 This new game was spread by the YMCA as
international students took the game home from their
studies at the YMCA Training School.
 The rules were published in many languages.
Thirteen Original Rules*
1. The
ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands
(never with the fist).
3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from
the spot on which he catches it; allowance to be made for a man
who catches the ball when running at good speed.
4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body
must not be used for holding it.
5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking, in any way
the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first
infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul, the
second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or, if
there was evident intent to injure the person for the whole of the
game, no substitution allowed.
6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violations of Rules 3, 4
and such as described in Rule 5.
7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count as a
goal for the opponents. (Consecutive means without the
opponents in the meantime making a foul.) (*Naismith, 1941, pp. 53-55)
A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the
grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those
defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball
rests on the edge, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall
count as a goal.
9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the
field and played by the person first touching it. In case of a
dispute, the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The
thrower-in is allowed five seconds. If he holds it longer it shall
go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game,
the umpire shall call a foul on them.
10. The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls
and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been
made. He shall have power to disqualify men according to Rule
5.
11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the
ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall
keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made
and keep account of the goals, with any other duties that are
usually performed by a referee.
12. The time shall be two fifteen minute halves, with five minutes
rest between.
13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared
the winners. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of
the captains, be continued until another goal is made.
8.
Basketball Equipment
1895 — Five
players to a side
 The ball—first made in 1894
 The goal evolved
 Peach baskets (used a ladder to retrieve the ball)
 Peach baskets with a hole drilled in bottom; used a
pole to punch out the ball
 Cylindrical wire baskets with a chain to allow the
ball to drop
 Black iron rim with heavy cord nets
 The backboards—to prevent interference from fans
 Screen to wood (1905) to plate glass (1909)
 The court—imaginary boundary lines to regulation
dimensions
Attributes Developed by Basketball
 Initiative
 Agility
 Accuracy
 Alertness
 Cooperation
 Skill
 Reflex
judgment
 Speed
 Self-confidence
 Self-sacrifice
 Self-control
 Sportsmanship
 “When
he meets an entirely
new condition, he can not
depend on the coach, but must
face the emergency himself. I
consider initiative one of the
most valuable attributes, and
the present tendency of the
player to depend on the coach
for the next more largely
destroys the opportunity of
acquiring this quality.” (p. 184)
 Amos
Alonzo Stagg, the famous University of
Chicago football coach and friend from the
YMCA Training School, recommended him for
a position at KU. Stagg may have told
Chancellor Strong that Naismith was an allaround athlete, medical doctor, and Presbyterian
minister, who did not smoke, drink, or cuss.
 Note the “helmet” being worn by Naismith. He
is credited with inventing the football helmet.
 He
Career at KU
became the Director of Physical Education
and Campus Chaplain in 1898.
 As Chaplain, he conducted one-hour required daily
devotional exercises (later weekly and then voluntary).
 As Director of Physical Education, he taught the
required hygiene course for freshmen, gymnastics
classes, and a kinesiology course.
 He established intramural athletics for all students.
 He introduced fencing, rowing, track, and lacrosse,
and got a golf course built on campus.
 At the age of 76 and after 39 years of service to KU,
he retired in 1937.
James Naismith, Coach*
 Established
KU’s first team,
which played initially on
February 3, 1899
 He told one of his players,
Forrest “Phog” Allen, “You
can’t coach basketball, Forrest,
you play it.”* (Phog Allen
coached KU’s basketball team
for 39 years.)
*KU Basketball Media Guide
 1898-1899
 1899-1900
 1900-1901
 1901-1902
 1902-1903
 1903-1904
 1904-1905
 1905-1906
 1906-1907
 Overall
7-4
3-4
4-8
5-7
7-8
5-8
5-6
12-7
7-8
55-60
James Naismith, Coach
 Most
games were played against YMCA teams or
athletic clubs, not colleges.
 The points scored were much lower; for example, in
the first season, the team’s high game score was 31
points; twice the team scored only 5 points in a game.
 His teams had no adequate home court; they played in
rented space off-campus or in Snow Hall with its 11’
ceiling, but mostly away games (often without him).
 The first real basketball court in Robinson
Gymnasium was not ready for use until the 1907-1908
season when Phog Allen coached the team.
Coaching
Legacies
James Naismith, Family Man
 In
1894 he married Springfield, Massachusetts,
native Maude Sherman. Mrs. Naismith suffered
from deafness due to typhoid fever suffered
before the birth of the second of their five
children (Margaret; Helen; Jack; Maude Annie;
James).
 Although he raised his family according to a strict
religious code a behavior, he was playful with his
children and a reluctant disciplinarian.
 He was accomplished in woodworking. He built
and refurbished numerous pieces of furniture and
helped construct a couple of the houses in which
he and his family lived.
James Naismith, Educator
 He
was interested in using sports to develop men
morally, spiritually, and physically, as Luther Gulick
and the YMCA stressed.
 He used his ministerial preparation to teach moral
lessons, his medical education to measure, heal, and
care for their bodies, and his physical education
expertise to teach them sports to strengthen their
bodies and to emphasize sportsmanship.
 He zealously took anthropometric measurements of
his students, in part to prove that basketball was not
too strenuous.
 His book Basketball—Its Origin and Development was
published posthumously in 1941.
James Naismith, Citizen-Soldier
 In
1915, although 54 years old and a Canadian
citizen, he volunteered to serve as chaplain
with the Kansas National Guard. In 1916, he
served with the First Regiment, Kansas
Volunteer Infantry in General Pershing’s
Punitive Expedition to quell the Border War
with Mexico. His taught sports and sex
education to keep soldiers out of trouble.
 Continuing his commitment to the goals of
the YMCA, between 1917-1919 he helped
provide athletic activities to soldiers in France
and while directing the Bureau of Hygiene
taught sex education to soldiers. He stressed
vigorous physical exercise, sexual morality, and
social hygiene.
James Naismith, Public Servant
 For
years, he was a popular Sunday School teacher.
 He was a popular speaker with the Chautauqua
program, on topics ranging from child development
to the physical development of college athletes
to the origin of basketball.
 As an ordained minister (from 1916), for years he
filled Presbyterian pulpits in and around Lawrence.
 He was an active member of and honored by the
Douglas County and Kansas Medical Societies.
 Throughout his career, he lectured on behalf of the
YMCA and was honored by the YMCA and
Springfield College (YMCA Training School) for his
distinguished service.
Ambassador for Basketball
 He
threw up the ceremonial first ball for the
inaugural game of basketball in the 1936
Olympic Games in Berlin and presented the
first gold medal to the U.S.A. team. (His trip
was sponsored by the National Association
of Basketball Coaches through “Naismith
nights” when one penny was collected for
each ticket sold.)
 He was named Honorary Chairman and life
member of the National Basketball
Committee and Honorary President of the
Basketball Coaches’ Association and
International Federation of Basketball
Leagues.
 Received
the
Legum
Doctorate
degree from
McGill
University
(1938)
 Received
Honorary
Doctor of
Divinity from
Presbyterian
College in
Montreal
(1939)
 Canadian
Honors
Sports Hall of Fame (1955)
 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall
of Fame (the first inductee in 1959)
 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame (charter
inductee in 1961)
 Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame (1986)
 Ontario Sports Legends Hall of
Fame (1996)
 McGill University Sports Hall of
Fame (inaugural inductee in 1996)
From his Citation in the Naismith
Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame:
 “As
basketball's popularity
grew, Naismith neither
sought publicity nor
engaged in selfpromotion. He was first
and foremost an educator.
He embraced recreational
sport but shied away from
the glory of competitive
athletics.”
Remembering James Naismith
 From
the eulogy that
appeared in the Journal of
Health and Physical
Education, Naismith was
described as "a physician
who encouraged
healthful living through
participation through
vigorous activities" and a
builder of "character in
the hearts of young
men."
He died in Lawrence on November 28 , 1939.
I will be a man
Strong in body,
Clear in mind
Lofty in Ideals.*
*Written on the flyleaf of the New Testament he carried in France as a YMCA leader during WW I
References




James Naismith. Available from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Naismith
Naismith, J. (1941) Basketball—Its origin and
development. New York: Association Press.
The original Dr. J. Available from
http://www.frozenhoops.com/id10.html
Webb, B. L. (1973; 1994). The basketball man—
James Naismith. Lawrence, KS: Kappelman’s
Historic Collections.
100th Anniversary of
James Naismith's Birth
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James Naismith Father of Basketball